Warde field hockey drops OT heartbreaker to Darien

October 27, 2016 GMT

FAIRFIELD — As Warde coach Samantha Dileo tried to pump up her team as she talked about their emotional performance in a gut-wrenching overtime loss to Darien Wednesday, she got some validation from an unlikely source.

A Blue Wave parent, leaving the field, yelled over to Dileo. He said that it was the toughest game he’d seen Darien have to play all season and that Dileo, and her players, should be proud of their effort.

They were proud, indeed.

Needing a win — and some help — to capture a berth in the FCIAC tournament, Warde gave Darien everything it could handle before finally falling 1-0 in overtime at Tetreau-Davis field. For most of the game, the Mustangs outplayed and outworked the Blue Wave, looking to steal a win and the two points that could have possibly inched them into the league tourney.

But just 38 seconds into overtime, Darien’s Kendall Wisinski — taking advantage of the space as three players are taking off the field, creating 7-on-7 play — blasted a shot from the right side that beat Warde goalkeeper Julia Warman.

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“We coach them to take every team as a new team and never overlook any opponent,” Darien coach Mo Minicus said. “I was hoping for a better first half, but it took a while for us to settle in … and overtime is always fun, there’s a lot more space and (Wisinski) had a great game. She worked hard today. She was the difference for us in the second half.”

But for most of the game, it was Warde’s Sarah Adams who was the difference. She put together three solid scoring chances and would have given the Mustangs the victory if any had connected.

“Sarah (Adams) was just everywhere,” Minicus said. “She was all over the field. We had had to change our strategy in the second half with her because she’s so dangerous.”

Adams’ biggest threat came with the clock at zero in the second half on a penalty corner where her shot from the top of the circle just missed the far post

“Every team needs their rock,” Dileo said of Adams. “Someone who knows a lot about the game and everyone can rely on to be there and to pick them up. She definitely has been a true leader on the team.”

Knowing that they needed a win — and also needed Greenwich and Trumbull to stumble — Warde came out attacking. It threw a half-dozen shots at Blue Wave keeper Kalli Coughin in the first half, but Couglin came up big each time and kept the game scoreless.

“I thought we were a little flat in the first half, Warde came ready to play and I thought we were definitely on our heels a little bit, we were just a little off,” Minicus said. “We picked it up in the second half, I thought we had much better ball possession, we put the pressure on but their defense was tough.”

Both teams worked with the momentum in the second half —Coughlin coming out to kick away an Adams blast with just 3:50 left in regulation — to force overtime.

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“I’ve told them that this is an entirely different team that came out at the beginning (of the season) and this game proved it,” Dileo said. “This game solidified the work that they’ve put in all season and I do plan to be a force to be reckoned with in the state tournament, if this is the team that we put out on the field.”

Warde lost to the top three teams in the league —Wilton (2-0), Staples (2-0) and Darien — meaning that the Mustangs are right there at the top of the conference ladder.

“They’ve been competitive with every team in the league,” Dileo said. “It wasn’t just this game, they’ve stepped up all season. They play together and they’re a good group. We’re not done and if they play like this, I think a lot of teams in the state (tournament) will be surprised.”

celsberry@ctpost.com;

DARIEN 1, WARDE 0

DARIEN 0 0 1—1

WARDE 0 0 0—0

Records: Darien 12-1-1-0; Warde 6-6-1-1. Goals: D—Kendall Wisinski. Goalies: D—Kalli Coughlin (8 saves); W—Julia Warman (9)