Playing with a sense of urgency, while gaining a measure of redemption, were high among the Greenwich girls hockey team’s goals entering their rematch against Darien Friday evening.
A week ago, Darien’s strong squad dealt the Cardinals a humbling six-goal loss, so Greenwich was eager to make a much better showing on its home ice in its regular season finale.
Hannah Goldenberg’s sterling performance in goal and Sophie Roth’s first-period tally provided a significant spark for Greenwich, which forged a 1-1 tie against Darien in an FCIAC game held at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.
The Blue Wave, who posted a 7-1 win over the Cardinals at Darien Ice House on March 3, outshot Greenwich, 48-14 and Goldenberg made an eye-opening 47 saves. Darien (6-2-1) trailed 1-0 after the first period and tied the score with a power play goal in the second period.
“Our team gave 110 percent effort today and I can’t ask for anything more,” said Greenwich coach Alex Lerchen, who emphasized the importance of playing with urgency to his squad prior to the game. “We played the majority of the game short-handed and were outshot, 48-14. They had an 8-1 advantage in penalties, so credit our penalty kill for working so hard.”
Lerchen and the Cardinals once again witnessed another rock-solid game from Goldenberg.
“We know what type of goalie she is and what she can do in games, she’s shown it all season,” Lerchen said. “She was amazing tonight.”
Sophomore forward Sophie Roth scored Greenwich’s goal off an assist from her sister, senior defender Delaney Roth. Darien’s goal came from sophomore Chelsea Donovan, with senior Nellie Kniffin and junior Ceci Stein each assisting on the tally.
The Blue Wave have the No. 1 seed in the FCIAC locked up and will host No. 8 Ridgefield/Danbury in Monday’s quarterfinal-round. Greenwich (6-4-2), which will be seeded fourth, plays host to fifth-seeded Wilton-Norwalk/McMahon in Monday’s quarterfinals. Should Darien and Greenwich win their quarterfinal games, they will face each other again in the FCIAC semifinals.
Goldenberg made 15 saves in the first period, stopped nine shots in the second period and turned away 18 shots during the third period. In the eight-minute overtime session, she made six more saves for the Cards.
“It would have been nice to get a win obviously, but it’s definitely an improvement from last time, so a tie is always better than a loss and hopefully, we can build on that, because I think we’re going to see them again in the postseason,” Goldenberg said.
Added Blue Wave coach Jamie Tropsa: “Their goalie was phenomenal. I give Greenwich a lot of credit, they played a tough game, they competed hard and they did what they had to do. We moved the puck well, worked hard and looked good, but we didn’t make the plays when we had the chances. Hopefully, we’ll play these guys again after the quarterfinals.”
Greenwich took a 1-0 lead with 10:05 remaining in the first period. Delaney Roth controlled the puck along the boards in Greenwich’s zone off a faceoff, skated down the left side of the ice and slid the puck across to her sister Sophie. Cutting hard toward the net, Sophie Roth, got her stick on her sister’s pass and directed the puck past Darien junior goalie Claire Haupt, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Haupt shared the goalkeeping duties with junior Ella Whitticom for Darien.
“Delaney was taking it up the ice and we always talk in practice about going to the net, so I went to the net and it got it in front and I tipped it in over the goalkeeper,” said Sophie Roth, who is Greenwich’s leading scorer for the season. “Last game against them we didn’t come out with a lot of intensity and it cost us but today we did and it was fun.”
Said Delaney Roth, one of the Cardinals’ captains: “The game that we played last week was not Greenwich hockey. We came out firing and ready to go and wanted to show what our team is all about. I was super excited with how every single person was playing on the ice. I don’t think our team could have ended our regular season on a better note than this.”
Competing on the same team as her younger sisters Sophie and Kelsey is a treat for Delaney.
“It’s always a blast playing with my sisters Sophie and Kelsey on the ice,” Delaney Roth said. “We work really well together.”
On a power play, Darien knotted the score with 4:49 left in the second period. Stein snapped a shot on goal from the right wing that deflected off Goldenberg’s pads and positioned near the left post, Donovan tipped home the rebound, evening the score at 1-1. The Blue Wave threatened to take the lead on numerous occasions late in the second period and in the final period, but Goldenberg stood out in goal. Donovan, senior Lucie Edwards and freshman Maggie Bellissimo were among the Darien players who tested Goldenberg with challenging shots on goal, but the Cardinals goalie kept it a 1-1 game.
“We can’t get that many chances and not score and that’s just the shots on goal,” Tropsa said. “Defensively, I thought we played well. We moved the puck well, overall, they played well.”
The Cardinals played plenty of defense, as the Blue Wave drew eight penalties, compared to one for the home team. Junior Tess Marciano, Delaney Roth and senior Emiri Fukuchi had to work extra hard to contend with Darien’s consistent pressure in Greenwich’s zone.
“I thought there was a lot more jump to our step,” Lerchen said. “There was a lot more urgency to our play. This is the level we’ve come to expect from this team and what we’ve been searching for. We’ll be ready to go Monday.”
Said Goldenberg: “We’ve definitely seen a lot of improvement from the start of the year, which is always a good thing. I think we have a few areas that need work, but overall we’re getting a lot better, so I think we can do a good job at FCIACs.”