DARIEN -- After receiving quite the scare from 16th-seed Staples in the opening round of the Class L state tournament, No. 1 Darien left little doubt Monday which field hockey team would advance to the state semifinals.
Playing host to No. 9 Greenwich, the Blue Wave scored the game's first four goals -- by four different players -- en route to a 4-1 quarterfinal victory over the Cardinals. Darien will clash with No. 4 New Milford on Wednesday at a to-be-announced time and place for the right to play in the state title game. New Milford advanced by picking up a 1-0 triple-overtime victory over New Canaan on Monday.
"They started off strong, they executed and they pounced. It was a full team effort," Darien coach Mo Minicus said. "We needed every goal we got today because Greenwich is so fast. They've got really threatening forwards, and every goal put them that much farther away. I'm just happy for everybody who contributed."
Darien got off to a fast start and took the lead when Kat Huber sent a pass to Kyla Johns for a one-timer goal. Just a few minutes later, Darien boosted its lead to 2-0 on an unassisted goal by Lexi Perticone, who scored off of a rebound just over 10 minutes into the game.
"We took it down the left side, someone shot it, the goalie hit it out and I was there for the tip," Lexi Perticone said. "(The fast start) was the biggest thing. (When) we played Staples, it was a close game the whole entire time. We needed to get momentum and keep it going once we scored our first goal."
Darien took a commanding 3-0 lead with 4:57 remaining in the first half when Hollis Perticone found Claire Culliton for the marker. The Blue Wave scored in the second half when Hollis Perticone scored with 21:54 remaining.
Greenwich's Emily Brash gave her team a glimmer of hope when she chipped her shot into the back of the Darien cage, after receiving a pass from Elizabeth Stillman, with 17:53 on the clock. The Cardinals couldn't get any closer despite dominating the final 20-plus minutes.
"It's just amazing how Darien can do so well year after year because the talent is so thick and so good," Greenwich coach Allyn Orrico said. "I'm proud of the way our girls never gave up. They executed very well in the last 20 minutes. That's what we hopefully can learn from this game. We've got to be that 60-minute team that executes and plays the game for a full 60 minutes."