Hand, Darien play to score­less draw

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - SPORTS - By Dan Nowak dnowak@nhreg­is­ter.com @NHRDanNowak on Twit­ter

MADSION » When­ever Fair­field County In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­letic Con­fer­ence power Darien and South­ern Con­necti­cut Con­fer­ence power Hand get to­gether, strong de­fen­sive ef­forts from both teams is usu­ally a given.

The Blue Wave and Tigers took it to an­other level on Satur­day.

Hand goalie Kylie Gargiulo had eight saves and the Tigers forced the Blue Wave to go 0-for-12 on penalty cor­ners, while Darien goalie Erica Blaze had five saves, in­clud­ing on a penalty stroke, as the teams played to a score­less tie at Hand High.

“Our teams played other de­fen­sive games like this in the past, and I think we ac­tu­ally beat Darien once be­fore, but tra­di­tion­ally when we play, Darien comes away with two or three goals,” Leckey said. “This was a great de­fen­sive ef­fort with great goal­tend­ing by both teams.

“Even though it was a tie it’s still a win for us be­cause it gives us an in­di­ca­tion where we stand at this point of the sea­son. We’re still try­ing to find chem­istry on of­fense, but I knew our goalie would have a tremen­dous game.”

Darien en­tered the game 3-0 and had outscored their three op­po­nents 22-0, but Blue Wave coach Mo Mini­cus viewed the game as her team’s first big test of the sea­son.

“I’m ex­hausted,” Mini­cus said af­ter the game. “Hand’s de­fense was a wall back there. I was ex­cited to play this game be­cause I knew it would be a chal­lenge and give us a barom­e­ter of where our team’s devel­op­ment was at this stage.

“We’re a young team this year but de­fen­sively we were scrappy to­day. I’m just happy we didn’t lose on a penalty stroke.”

One of the Blue Wave’s best chances to score came with 22:30 to go in the sec­ond half. Gargiulo made a shoul­der-high save off a ris­ing shot from Darien’s Shea Van den Broek.

“This was a very hard game, but I try to stay pos­i­tive and I knew in my mind I was ca­pa­ble of hav­ing a per­for­mance like I did to­day,” Gargiulo said. “I just needed to stay in that mind­set. I was fo­cused the whole game and that’s what helped me make the save off that ris­ing shot.

“In my mind, get­ting a tie against a very good team like Darien is a win for us.”

Hand (2-0-1) was pre­sented with the best op­por­tu­nity to come away with a win when the Tigers were awarded a penalty stroke with 1:20 left in reg­u­la­tion. Hand was putting pres­sure on Blaze. A Darien player tried to clear the ball but it hit a de­fender high in front of the Darien goal.

Tay­lor Leckey, Sue Leckey’s daugh­ter, took the penalty shot. She sent the ball to­ward the right post but Blaze was there for the kick save to pre­serve the score­less fi­nal.

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