GREENWICH — Oftentimes, it takes freshman players competing on a varsity squad a good portion of the season to settle in and find their niche.
Not so for a pair of freshmen on the Darien girls soccer squad.
Freshman Chloe Humphrey tallied twice and freshman Colette Quinn had an assist to help power Darien to an impressive 3-0 win over Greenwich in an FCIAC game held at Cardinal Stadium on Thursday.
The Blue Wave remained unbeaten, raising their record to 2-0-1. Greenwich, which dropped a tough 1-0 decision to New Canaan on Tuesday, is 0-3 on the young season.
The play was pretty even the majority of the first half, with the Cardinals and Blue Wave each having their moments. Darien scored the go-ahead goal in the 35th minute, courtesy of the freshman duo of Humphrey and Quinn. Controlling the ball off a pass from Quinn, Humphrey knocked a shot from 5 yards out past Greenwich senior goalie Clay Garrett, giving Darien a 1-0 lead.
“Colette made a perfect pass, a through ball and I just tapped it in and finished,” Humphrey said. “The whole game, we had been going back-and-forth, it was kick and run, so we knew we needed to get it on the ground if we wanted to win.”
Garrett made 11 saves in goal for the Cardinals, who were paced defensively by junior Kristen Berzolla.
“We created more opportunities this game than our last game against New Canaan,” Berzolla said. “We were keeping control of the ball, just the last 10 minutes of the first half it started slipping away and we started booting it more, which caused some issues. Communication is important for us, we need to make sure we talk more.”
Leading 1-0, Darien increased its advantage when junior forward/midfielder Nelle Kniffin converted a penalty kick with 1:16 remaining in the opening half. The penalty kick was awarded to Darien when Greenwich was called for a foul during a Blue Wave corner kick in the box.
Kniffin deposited her penalty kick inside the right post, for Darien, which was also sparked throughout by sophomore Maggie Ramsay.
“There’s a lot of pressure on those penalty kicks, but we do a lot of them in practice,” Kniffin said. “It helps to keep a calm head in those situations.”
Darien’s third goal was the result of an outstanding play by junior Kate Bellissimo and Humphrey. Bellissimo lofted a pass from the right sideline toward the box and a charging Humphrey got her head on the ball and headed it by Garrett, making 3-0 in the 61st minute.
“We knew coming to Greenwich it was going to be a tough game, so we came out really strong and motivated to win,” Humphrey said.
Senior goalie Olivia Maniscalco made four saves in the winning effort. Senior Claudia Caruso, junior Sophia Bastek and junior Carly O’Brien created scoring chances for Greenwich, which was led by senior Jordan Moses in the midfield.
“Coming off Tuesday, when we had a really good performance against New Canaan, we were looking on building off that momentum,” GHS coach Simon Rumbold said. “I think we did in terms of intensity, but we lacked a little bit of quality when we had possession. I thought we played into Darien’s hands a little bit.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Humphrey was one of the sparks Darien needed.
“Our freshmen have come in and done well,” Blue Wave coach Leigh Parsons said. “They have settled right in and are becoming a big part of the team.
“We definitely have a lot of team chemistry, which is a big part of our success,” Kniffin said. “We have been doing a lot of technical work and focusing on getting the ball out sooner.”
Said Rumbold: “I saw better signs from our team in the second half, there are some positives to take out of this game, heading into the challenges we are going to face.”
Added Parsons: “After the first 20 minutes of the game, we settled down and started to link up a few things and create some chances. The second half, we tried not to be too frantic with the ball.”