One for one to begin its season, Staples went into Darien with an enormous early season challenge, going head on with a team that is at the top of the FCIAC on a consistent basis.
And while Darien didn't win by a considerably lopsided margin on Wednesday at home, Kyla Johns and the rest of the Blue Wave attack made sure the Wreckers didn't hang around for too long. In controlling both ends of play, Darien picked up its second straight shutout victory, 3-0, over Staples.
Johns scored each of Darien's first two markers with 24:19 and 20:09 remaining in the first half, respectively. The first came after she received a pass from Georgia Cassidy, and the second was on a tip-in off a shot from Sloane Bessey.
"Honestly, I just saw the ball go behind the goalie and tried to smack it in," Johns said. "Our team has really been working on a lot of teamwork -- the passing, we've been working on shooting a lot. We got a lot of shots on goal, but we've got to work on getting it into the goal."
Darien gave itself considerable breathing room when Cassidy scored on a scramble in front of the Staples cage with 3:09 remaining in the first half.
"We were very happy to get on the board early. That's one of our goals this year is to attack, get on the board early, breathe a little bit," Darien coach Mo Minicus said. "It would have been nice to convert a little bit more offensive play. It was packed in. It was hard to perhaps get a clean goal off of open play. From that, we just have to execute our corners better."
Staples coach Ashley Del Vecchio believed her team was a bit more focused on defense in the second half when they shut out Darien for the final 30 minutes.
"I thought we played really well. Darien obviously is very strong every season. It's a new team that we have, so we're still getting used to playing together," Del Vecchio said. "They had a lot more corners against us, and we were able to keep them out. I just think we kind of cleaned it up. We were more focused on getting low."
Staples goalie Jodie Baris was instrumental in keeping her team in the game, often aggressively coming out of the cage to make several of her 14 saves. Darien controlled the ball, registering a commanding 21-0 edge in shots.
"She was huge," Del Vecchio said. "She communicates a lot with defense and she's a great part of the team."
Darien's defense yielded just two penalty corners compared to nine for the Blue Wave.
"That was definitely (Katie Shanahan), Jackie (Brokaw), Mollie (Riegel), Kelsey (Bumgardner)," Johns said. "We have a really, really good defensive line."
Up next for the Blue Wave is Friday's home tilt with fellow unbeaten New Canaan.
"Our defense steps up so well. We have such faith in them. They're just strong, they're reliable, they're strong," Minicus said. "(New Canaan) will be a battle. We're happy we're home. It's always nice to play on your home turf. We'll prepare as best as we can and see what happens."
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DARIEN 3, STAPLES 0
STAPLES 0 0 -- 0
DARIEN 3 0 -- 3
Records: Staples 1-1; Darien 2-0. Goals: D -- Kyla Johns 2, Georgia Cassidy. Assists: D -- Cassidy, Sloane Bessey. Goalies: S -- Jodie Baris (14 saves); D -- Danica Hornick (0). Shots: S -- 0; D -- 21.