DANBURY -- To say that the Darien boys soccer team spent the duration of its first round Class L state tournament clash on Abbott Tech's side of the field would only be the slightest of exaggerations.

Dominating possession and creating far more scoring opportunities from the opening kickoff was not enough to earn the Blue Wave a regulation goal. Therefore, the contest would be decided in a pair of 10-minute overtime periods.

Just three minutes into the first of those overtimes, the Blue Wave (7-8-2) finally had something to show for their strong play, as Graham Helgans arched a centering pass to teammate Harrison Gil, who buried his shot for the 1-0 advantage, which was also the final score.

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The victory for the No. 27-seeded Blue Wave over the No. 6 Wolverines (14-3) means that Darien would again hit the road to take on No. 11 Daniel Hand in the second round on Thursday at 2 p.m. The result was not available at press time.

"Graham always plays really nice crosses and they'd been coming in all day. That time I tried to break away from my player and then make the run," Gil said. "It came in to my left foot and it was more of my shin actually -- in between the foot and the shin, but it went in the goal so it was really nice."

Abbott Tech's strongest offensive push of the day occurred in the second overtime when it earned a pair of corner kicks that were denied by Darien goalie Liam Rischmann, who made seven saves to notch the shutout.

"I just crossed one into a crowd of people and saw it go into the net, and it was a great feeling," Helgans said. "It was nerve-racking because we dominated for most of the game, but anything can happen once we get to penalty kicks. We really wanted to make sure we scored in overtime, and luckily we finally got one."

The Wolverines may not have found themselves in overtime had it not been for the exceptional play of goalie Ramses Perez, who made 17 saves.

One of Perez's finest stops came with mere seconds remaining in the first half when Darien's Henrik Stockinger unleashed a hard shot that looked as if it could sneak just under the crossbar. Instead, Perez leaped into the air, got his fingertips on the shot and sent it over the crossbar as time expired.

"Everybody is looking to do their job defensively first, and then we can move the ball up," Abbott Tech coach Steve Pepe said. "It was one of (Perez's) best games this season. Him and any other player have that ability to single-handedly take over the game."

Among other Darien players who came close to scoring were Alexei Gunya on several occasions, Helgans on a header off of a corner kick in the second half and Stockinger who again just missed in the second half with a shot that went wide left.

"I thought we had a lot of good chances in the first half, but their goalie had a very good game. The danger was that they would get one on a corner or free kick and they came close four or five times," Darien coach Jon Bradley said. "We just kept grinding away. When we got to the end of regulation, we told them to relax and just keep going. I thought we had some really good chances and that we deserved the win."

It had been 13 days since Darien defeated Bassick on the final day of the regular season to clinch a spot in the tournament, but the Wave didn't show any rust.

"You get into this tournament and anything can happen. I thought we were pretty fresh," Helgans said. "We had a scrimmage against Weston and in practice we've been playing a lot more than drills, so we were pretty fresh for this game."

jchik@bcnnew.com; @jchik17


DARIEN 0 0 1 0--

ABBOTT TECH 0 0 0 0--0

Records: Darien 7-8-2, Abbott Tech 14-3. Goals: D--Harrison Gil. Assists: D-Graham Helgans. Goalies: AT--Ramses Perez (17 saves); D--Liam Rischmann (7). Shots: AT--7; D--25.