Field hockey: Darien, Staples battle to 1-1 tie
Published 6:47 pm, Thursday, October 13, 2016
DARIEN—Conceding a goal less than two minutes into a game wasn’t the ideal start the Staples field hockey team — which had only given up a goal season prior to Thursday — envisioned when they took the field against rival Darien.
The Wreckers didn’t panic though, and slowly took control of a game that included numerous chances for the visitors. But Darien’s backline and senior goalie prevented a Staples triumph.
Blue Wave goalie Kalli Coughlin preserved a 1-1 tie for her team as she made 13 saves, thwarting nearly every shot that came her way. The one that got through — and earned a point for Staples in the FCIAC standings — came off the stick of Gabriela Vega with 17:45 left in the second half.
“We got put on our heels in the second half,” Darien coach Mo Minicus said. “When the goalie goes down it’s up to her defenders to clean up the cage. I’m proud of my team for starting off strong.”
The two talented teams continued their stellar seasons as the Wreckers remained undefeated with the result and moved to 10-0-2, while Darien is now 10-1-2.
“We certainly had more shots and corners, and I’m really pleased,” Staples coach Ian Tapsall said. “We’re still on an upward curve; we just have to finish on finishing in the circle.”
Katie Elders converted a pass from Campbell Mathias to give Darien a 1-0 lead on the first chance of the match from either team. The Blue Wave had posted three straight shutouts since a 3-1 defeat to Wilton Oct. 4.
“It was huge,” Minicus said. “We needed to get them early so we didn’t let them get into their groove defensively.”
But Staples turned up the pressure to begin the second half, running its penalty corner tally to double digits and consistently getting the ball into the circle. Vega finally converted a goalmouth scramble midway through the second to give Staples hope of a rare win over its rivals.
“It was the classic scramble in front of goal which we should be scoring more off of,” Tapsall said. “Once we get a shot off all sorts of stuff can happen.”
The rest of the opportunities were saved by Coughlin and the teams played 10 minutes of 7-on-7 overtime. A shot from Darien off a penalty corner early in the period was the only significant chance.
The Wreckers were unsure of their standing in the FCIAC hierarchy when they entered the final week of September, but a win over New Canaan and draws with Wilton and Darien have provided a lift ahead of the postseason, which begins in two weeks.
“It was fitness last season which we managed to take of, but I didn’t think that we would be doing this well,” Tapsall said. “It’s a testament to the character and the intelligence of these girls. They listen and they produce on the field.”
The Blue Wave are also in a strong position; Minicus believes her team needs to work on defense in key moments.
“We’re not getting it out of the circle fast enough,” Minicus said. “We need to fine tune that part of defense.”
STAPLES 1, DARIEN 1 (OT)
STAPLES 0 1 0—1
DARIEN 1 0 0—1
Records: Staples 10-0-2; Darien 10-1-2. Goals: S—Gabriela Vega; D—Katie Elders. Assists: D—Campbell Matheis. Goalies: S—Bridget Mulloy (1 save). D—Kalli Coughlin (13).