SUFFIELD — With defense being Darien’s calling card, one would think the Blue Wave would be content to sit back and protect their one-goal lead in the second half at all costs.
Instead, No. 8 Darien attacked top-ranked Suffield, resulting in a 1-0 road upset in the Class LL quarterfinals.
Darien will move on to play No. 4 Staples in the semifinals.
“When we get that goal, we settle down and are more willing to play, we don’t play as nervous, so to speak,” Darien coach Leigh Parsons said. “We know we’re sound defensively, but it was important not to sit back, you have to go at them … once you get the flow and that belief, once we’re willing to play our game, it showed in the second half and we stepped it up.”
Darien got that lead 32 minutes into the contest when forward Katie Ramsay found a little space and used it to beat three defenders and sneak in a shot just inside the left post with her off-foot.
The clutch score was of little surprise to Parsons.
“One thing with Katie, we’ve had some good strikers come through and score a lot of goals, but she’s scoring goals in big games,” the coach said. “It’s not just five goals against an easier team, she’s scoring big goals in big games. To have that threat and that ability up there mixed with what we have defensively, we’re dangerous.”
Defensively, the Wave were able to shut out a team that went 16-0 in the regular season and averaged five goals per game.
Now, after an early exit in the FCIAC tournament, Darien is realizing its potential on the big stage.
“It feels good; we knew what this team was capable of this season,” Parsons said. “We were a little disappointed about going out early in FCIACs so the focus was ‘let’s make a good run in states’ we know what we’re capable of and I think we’re showing that…today we took our one moment and we we’re good enough to hold on, so it’s good to be here and being the last four in LL is impressive.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
DeNuzio, Darien. The senior defenseman was instrumental in shutting down one of the top attacks in the state. Whenever it looked like Suffield might break through, DeNunzio was there to save the day.
“As coach, when you have a player like that, you realize she’s even better than she looks,” Parsons said. “…she’s a top player for sure.”
With nine seconds remaining on the clock and the ball on the Suffield side, assistant coach Mike Fraioli looked at Parsons and said, “oh my God, we did it.” The “it” Fraioli was referring to was advancing to the semifinals for the first time in program history.
“We tried to go out and play our game,” DeNunzio said. “We played tough knowing we could make history being the first Darien team going all the way to semis, and that’s what we did.”
Playing an FCIAC foe in Staples means that the two teams will go into the semifinals knowing the tendencies of one another. Darien already defeated the Wreckers 1-0 in the regular season, but the Wave want more.
“We’re definitely ready, we know how they play so we’ll prepare,” DeNunzio said. “We want to get a little revenge on them, they beat us last year twice.”
DARIEN 1, SUFFIELD 0
DARIEN 1 0—1
SUFFIELD 0 0—0
Goals: D—Katie Ramsay. Goalies: D—Christine Fiore (6 saves); S—Ava Boccasille (6). Shots: D—7; S—6.