Darien upsets top-seeded Watertown in States
Talk about making a statement. Darien High School's girls soccer team, seeded 16th in the Class L state tournament, defeated top-seeded Watertown 1-0 on the road in the second round on Thursday.
The Blue Wave got a first-half goal from freshman Dillon Schoen. That goal would be enough, incredibly enough, and the Blue Wave had its second shutout in as many state tourney games. With the win, the Wave advances to play at the No. 8 Bunnell Bulldogs of Stratford on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Schoen moved the ball up the right sideline and fired a shot into the top far corner of the goal to break the scoreless tie. Marieke Bravo had the assist. Darien goalkeeper Charlotte Phillips needed to make only two saves. The Wave compiled 18 shots, generating most of their chances in the first half.
The team dropped forward Georgie Highton back to serve as an extra defender and the team used just one forward in the second half in a successful effort to put the clamps down on Watertown. Darien has had some problems with allowing second-half goals this year, and head coach Jonathan Bradley said he was thrilled to see his team holding off the opposition late in games in the postseason.
"It was a good win. The girls executed well," Bradley said. "We had a game plan and they stuck with it."
That game plan included a tight defensive presence on Watertown's 22 goal-scorer, Jessica Spezzano. Bradley had intended on mixing and matching defenders to guard Spezzano, but freshman Emily Stein was doing such a good job of containing the opponent that Bradley kept her in that role for the duration of the game.
"She did a very good job of shutting her down," Bradley said.
"We didn't have a letdown from anyone," Bradley said.
Darien will look to keep up these winning ways, and Bradley said the team members are focused on themselves, doing their jobs on the field, and are not concerned with who they are playing.
"The girls are confident. Their morale's great," Bradley said. "We're not worried about who we're playing. We're just going out and playing our game."
The Blue Wave, with a win over Bunnell, would reach the state tourney's semifinals for the first time in eight seasons, Bradley said.
"It's a great win," he said of the victory over Watertown. "We're one step away from getting to the semifinals."
Darien improved to 11-5-1. Watertown suffered only its second loss of the season, ending the year at 13-2. Bunnell, which comes out of the Southwest Conference, carries a 13-2-2 mark into the clash with Darien.