Fall sports

Undefeated Darien defeats Greenwich in Class L field hockey tourney quarterfinals

Members of the Greenwich High School and Darien field hockey team greet each other following the quarterfinal-round of the CIAC Class L Tournament, a game that Darien won, 4-2, on November 11, 2022, in Darien.

How dominant has Darien’s field hockey team been so far this season?

Through 21 games, the Blue Wave have a record of 21-0, have outscored the opposition, 125-6, and have posted 17 shutouts.

Of the six goals the Blue Wave have yielded this season, three were scored by Greenwich, a team that’s given Darien its toughest games this fall.

Darien has allowed goals in just four games this season, two of which came against the Cardinals, who managed to tally twice when the FCIAC rivals met Friday in the quarterfinal-round of the CIAC Class L Tournament.

Eighth-seeded Greenwich saw its season come to an end, courtesy of top-seeded Darien, which has halted numerous team’s seasons so far. Receiving two goals from senior Ryan Hapgood and one goal and two assists from junior Ashley Stockdale, Darien defeated Greenwich, 4-2 in the Class L quarterfinals.

Greenwich’s Bernie Thompson looks to pass the ball to teammate Kate Donnellan during a playoff game against Darien.

The Blue Wave, who raised their record to 21-0, plays fourth-seeded Glastonbury in Tuesday’s Class L semifinals at Amity Regional High School. Coached by Megan Wax, Greenwich finished its successful 2022 campaign with a record of 13-5-0-1.

“One of the goals we set at the beginning of the year was to not be intimidated by whoever we’re playing,” Wax said. “We wanted to focus on ourselves and executing what we wanted to do.”

Greenwich was edged by Darien, 2-1, at Cardinal Stadium on Oct. 19, before being eliminated by the Blue Wave on Friday.

“This year, especially against Darien, we were able to come out and fight through the entire game and we feel that we have kind of stepped into our own in getting into that mental block of not getting down on ourselves,” Wax said. “What it resulted in was giving them two of their hardest games of the year.”

Greenwich’s Kate Donnellan, front and Klara Mueffelmann, center, in action against Darien in the Class L Tournament.

Sophomore Kate Donnellan and freshman Julia Lattuada scored one goal apiece for the Cardinals, who fell behind 3-0, before rallying to close to within 3-2.

“As a coaching staff, we’re so proud of them and our message to them was, you should be proud of yourself,” Wax noted. “To make an undefeated team work as hard as they did for this win is impressive.”

Darien struck first with Stockdale scoring with 9:04 remaining in the first quarter. Senior Kaci Benoit assisted on the Stockdale’s goal. Sophomore Kate Bock gave the Blue Wave a 2-0 lead when she scored off a pass from Stockdale with nine minutes to go in the second quarter.

Hapgood’s first goal came at the 12:10 mark of the third period off an assist from Stockdale, making it 3-0.

Darien posted a 4-2 win over Greenwich in the CIAC Class LL quarterfinals.

“We chipped away, we knew it was not going to be an easy game,” Darien coach Mo Minicus said. “Going up early takes the pressure off a little bit. The second goal at the half was key. To go into the half 2-0 was important.”

Donnellan got the Cardinals on the scoreboard with a goal with 10:54 left in the third quarter. Lattuada cut Darien’s lead to 3-2 by scoring with 9:43 to go in the final quarter. Hapgood increased Darien’s advantage to 4-2 with 4:12 left to play in the fourth quarter.

“It was 3-0 and then against a team like Greenwich, 3-0 does not feel like a lead,” Minicus said. “It was a great test, their first goal was a good goal on their part. It was a battle. The fourth goal was crucial, because Greenwich is a team that’s not going to give up. And if we were still winning 3-2 anything can happen, so that fourth goal was a little bit of an icing on the cake.”

Greenwich’s season came to an end with a 4-2 loss to Darien in the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs.

Darien took 14 penalty corners and registered 22 saves for the game. The Cardinals drew two penalty corners and had seven shots. Junior tri-captain Kelly Janssen made nine saves in goal for the Cards.

“I’m super proud of all of the girls,” Janssen said. “We should have so much respect for ourselves and for each other. We pushed our limits and we proved ourselves to be a top team in every minute of that game. We held our heads so high and we’ll continue to do so.”

Janssen and Greenwich enjoyed the ultimate challenge of playing the powerhouse Blue Wave.

“I think it was awesome, we wanted to play Darien in our postseason because of how tough a game we gave them last time,” Janssen said. “I think we gave them just as hard a game this time. I think we gave them their two hardest matches of the season and I think that alone we should be very proud of. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get to play them later, but I think that it was really high-level hockey, which is always a good thing.”

Junior Bernie Thompson moves the ball along the sideline for Greenwich in its game against Darien.

The matchup marked the final game for Greenwich’s four seniors – Maddie Hoekman, Maggie Balaguer, Klara Mueffelmann and Lauren Mondschein.

For the game, Mueffelmann intercepted two passes, as did junior Caroline Babb.

The Cardinals’ leading scorer, Mueffelmann powered the team offensively throughout the season. She will continue her field hockey career at Boston College next year.

“It’s always great having this season at the beginning of the school year, because we’ve become such a close family and every single person on the team has contributed so much,” Mueffelmann said. “We weren’t just teammates, we were family, which is our motto.”

“My senior year has been great,” Mueffelmann continued. “Meeting new people from different grades was great and we’ve become so close. Today, we left it all out on the field and we played together and definitely gave everything we had.”

Was is appreciative of her seniors and the intangibles they brought to the team.

“They are such a unique class, we haven’t had a small senior class in a long time,” Wax said. “What was interesting about them was they were able to connect this team in ways that previous teams haven’t been and the cohesion that they created on and off the field was remarkable.”

“They have a crazy high school experience,” Wax continued. “Their sophomore and junior years were insane (due to COVID-19). We’re so proud of them for sticking with it and persevering through the hard school days, the weird sports seasons, all those crazy rules our sophomore year. We are going to miss them hugely, but we’re super excited to follow their successes.”

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