FIELD HOCKEY Darien tops Hand in non-league clash
DARIEN — Field hockey is a sport where slotting in some non-league contests against traditional programs isn’t a heavy lift.
Daniel Hand High School traveled down to Darien High Friday night. And both schools came away better for the battle as Darien emerged with a 6-2 triumph under the lights.
“(Daniel Hand coach) Sue Leckey and I go way back and we both look forward to this game each year,” Darien’s veteran coach Mo Minicus said. “Playing non-league games against Daniel Hand and Garden City (NY) are great challenges. You always want to play the best programs. That’s how you improve. We lost to Garden City. But we found out a lot of things about ourselves.”
PRESSURE EQUALS OFFENSE
Darien (5-2 overall, still 4-1 FCIAC) jumped out to a 3-0 edge in the opening 11 minutes of play.
The Blue Wave amassed 12 penalty corners in the first half. Katie Elders and Bridget Mahoney each tallied twice while Molly Hellman also scored to build a 5-1 halftime cushion. Riley Joyce scored an insurance tally for the Blue Wave with 3:39 remaining.
“We graduated a lot of seniors from last year. But the athleticism of our underclassmen are pushing us,” said Elders, a senior who thrived at the right half position Friday night. “This group has a lot of passion. They all want to be on the field. We’re building camaraderie. We’re building off our collective energy. We have people playing new positions and our roster is very deep.”
Hand junior goalie Karen Newton registered 10 of her 18 saves in the first half.
“I was very happy with how we started,” Minicus said. “We are still tweaking our lineup. We are still seeing what works best. Bridget Mahoney at center forward was so good. And Katie Elders jump-started so much from right half. We won almost every 50-50 ball in the first half.”
LONG TERM BENEFITS FOR HAND
The Tigers made adjustments at halftime and Hand did control a good portion of the action over the final 30 minutes. Grace Hartmann scored in the first half and Anna Beccia tallied in the second half.
Hand (4-2-2 overall) has only lost on the road to FCIAC schools Norwalk and Darien this season.
“I feel like I needed 10 timeouts in the first half to deal with the Darien attack,” Leckey said. “I come to play Darien each year for a reason. To get better. Figuring out how to respond to Darien’s style will make us better down the road.”
Hand will take some of that knowledge forward as its next game is against Cheshire High.
“Darien has talent and tenacity. Mo (coach Minicus) does such a great job of having a team grow over the course of a season,” Hand’s Leckey said. “I’m proud of my girls. They made adjustments. The way we played in the second half showed we can play well against anybody.”
DARIEN 6, DANIEL HAND 2
DANIEL HAND 1 1—2
DARIEN 5 1—6
Records: Daniel Hand 4-2-2; Darien 5-2 overall. Goals: Daniel Hand—Grace Hartmann, Anna Beccia. Darien—Molly Hellman, Katie Elders 2, Bridget Mahoney 2, Riley Joyce. Assists: Daniel Hand—Tessie Sheehan. Darien—Bridget Mahoney, Katie Elders, Molly Hellman. Goalies: Daniel Hand—Karen Newton (18 saves). Darien—Grace Aronson (2 saves)