DARIEN -- Thursday afternoon's clash between the New Canaan and Darien girls soccer teams at Darien High School was basically the towns' rivalry in a nutshell: A well-attended, physical, emotional contest that wasn't decided until the final seconds.
And, in the latest installment, the Rams and Blue Wave both earned a point in the standings after an extraordinarily evenly-played 1-1 tie.
"It was good that we didn't crumble because some teams would under that pressure and that hysteria. All the emotions and the adrenaline were running very high and sometimes that can take over the way the game is played a little bit," New Canaan coach Kirk Bamford said.
Both teams had their fair share of scoring chances in the first half, but it wasn't until just 10 seconds remained that either could light the scoreboard.
With New Canaan applying pressure on Darien's side of the field, Eileen Dinnie's shot was stopped by Darien goalie Phoebe Taylor, but teammate Kyla Persky was right there to bury the rebound from short range.
"I saw one of my players, Eileen Dinnie, running in front of the goal. I figured I might as well follow it up and see if I can make the chance," Persky said. "When you get two players who really want it and are motivated to get it, then you get a physical game."
Despite seeing his team surrender the lead with so little time left in the half, Darien coach Leigh Parsons believed that the Blue Wave had thus far played the better game.
"The most important thing for me is how we responded after a little slip-up with 10 seconds left," Parsons said. "It would have been easy for us to get our heads down and think the game's over, but we stuck in and took it to them. There are a lot of positives against a very good team. We needed a game like this against one of the top teams."
Darien was on the attack to start the second half, and the tandem of Katie Cronin and Kelly Karczewski finally enabled the Blue Wave to break through. Cronin sent a ball high into the air in front of the New Canaan net, and Karczewski's well-struck header tied the game at 1-1.
"There was a scramble around the goal, and one of our players Katie Cronin, who is a freshman and she's doing awesome, hit a nice floater up. It was me and another girl right in front of the goalie and it was a big header right into the side netting," Karczewski said. "(New Canaan's late goal) was tough but it was really a wake-up call for us. In the huddle, we had more intensity than we've ever had. I think we're going to go on a roll after this."
Although Darien enjoyed a possession advantage in the game's final 10 minutes, the best chance to break the deadlock belonged to New Canaan.
With 43 seconds remaining, Perksy made a throw-in around midfield and sprinted into Darien territory. Persky received a pass as she got closer to the Darien net, but she was met head on by Darien goalie Phoebe Taylor, who came out of the net to smother Persky's shot attempt to make what was perhaps her most difficult save of the contest.
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NEW CANAAN 1, DARIEN 1
NEW CANAAN 1 0 --1
DARIEN 0 1 --1
Records: New Canaan 3-1-1; Darien 2-3-1.
Goals: NC -- Kyla Persky; D -- Kelly Karczewski. Assists: NC -- Eileen Dinnie; D -- Katie Cronin. Goalies: NC -- Alexandra Yuditski (6 saves); D -- Phoebe Taylor (6). Shots: NC -- 10; D -- 9.