DARIEN — Consistent with their uniform numbers, Marissa Baker and Georgia Cassidy refer to themselves, respectively, as “Thing 1 and Thing 2.” It is a playful but inaccurate description for the star forwards of the Darien High School field hockey team, who have been teammates — no, linemates — in two sports for six years.
“Sometimes I know where she is without looking up and she will do whatever she can,” Baker said.
That telepathy, developed since first playing youth hockey together in the 6th grade, will be counted on Thursday afternoon, when the Blue Wave host Wilton in the most anticipated game of the season.
“They’ve come into their own athletically,” Darien coach Mo Minicus said. “You see them grow up from shy freshmen to take control athletically. They are smarter. Georgia has always been a savvy little playmaker. Her game has grown, her skills have grown, and Marissa just has always played with intensity. She just wants to play. She’s intense, she’s reactive. Georgia is more cerebral. She sees the field and everything. Marissa just sees the endline and whatever’s in the way. She’s just focused. They are very different in that sense.”
The disparity also applies to their personalities, which was apparent during a recent interview. As Baker said, “She’s a little quieter. I’m a little louder.”
The decibel level rises when the two work together on the field. Baker has 8 goals and 3 assists, while Cassidy has 6 goals and 4 assists. Their play is a big reason the Blue Wave are 6-0 and have outscored opponents by a 34-3 margin.
“They love the sport,” Minicus said. “They love competing, they love their teammates. They go hard and everyone else goes hard.”
They have played on the same in both sports; Cassidy in the middle and Baker on the right side.
“When I get the ball I’m usually low so I know I can trust Marissa and send the ball through to the right and she will pick it up on the sideline or endline and drive it into the circle,” Cassidy said.
Darien had won or shared five of the previous six FCIAC titles before losing to New Canaan in the final a year ago. The Blue Wave avenged that loss last week. They rebounded to win their seventh state title in eight years, but it was a share with Glastonbury after the teams played to a 1-1 tie.
“This year our main strength is how much depth we have,” Cassidy said. “We’ve been subbing the forwards a lot. Me, Marissa and two other forwards start the game, try to get it started and get some early goals. Once we do it there are four forwards on the sideline who can pick it up and try to get the same job done.”
Minicus said the players’ symbiotic relationship has benefited the program during their recent run. Cassidy was brought up to the varsity midway through her freshman year and scored the first goal in the state final; Baker is a three-year starter.
“They play hockey together and I’ve seen it with other hockey players on my team,” Minicus said. “You have to move. You can’t just stand around. Pass and move. They do know where the other is going to be and they find each other and they bring out the best in each other.”
“Sometimes I know where she is without looking up,” Baker said, nodding in her friend’s direction.
While both players are at the same level during games, they don’t arrive from the same starting point.
“I get nervous before every game, not matter who we are playing,” Cassidy admitted. “Even though we are innerly motivated, before games Marissa knows how nervous I get and have my own bubble and she can take charge and get the team fired up.”
Baker added with a chuckle, “She gets a little tense. I get a little crazy.”
While this will be the last year the two will play competitively together, they will continue to share another bond. Both will play field hockey in college; Cassidy is headed to the University of North Carolina, Baker to Middlebury.”
“I’m going to be darker blue and she’s going to be lighter blue,” Baker said. “Blue pride forever.”
Baker said the two still have many games to play together and are trying not to contemplate the time they will no longer be on the same team or line.
“You never think as seniors this is my last time with this or last time with that,” Baker said. “We just try not to focus on those things.”