Darien beats Conard
DARIEN — The Darien boys soccer team was hoping to make a run through the FCIAC tournament last week, but wound up losing to Warde in the quarterfinals.
The defeat may have been a blessing in disguise, as the Blue Wave were able to take a few days off before regrouping for the Class LL state tournament.
Much like the early-fall like weather for the game, No. 13 Darien came out as spry as a team playing in September, beating No. 20 Conard 3-1 at home in the opening round of the Class LL tournament. The Blue Wave move on to Thursday’s second round, where it travle to face No. 4 Farmington at 6 p.m. The Indians be No. 29 Amity 6-0 Tuesday.
Darien (11-4-2) got goals from Peter Case, Blake Sommi and Pablo Martinez, never being threatened by the Chieftains until allowing a last-minute goal with reserves on the pitch.
Case said that while the loss to Warde stung, the time to refocus was extremely valuable.
“We were heartbroken to be knocked out of FCIACs, but to come out here and win comfortably on our home field was a great feeling,” Case said. “We took a few days off then got back into training and the whole mentality of the team was to train harder and make sure we tightened up our defense, and I think all that work paid off. This was a very physical game, but we kept our composure. We didn’t retaliate, just absorbed the fouls and played our game and it shows in the score line.”
Case, a senior, was part of last year’s team that made a run all the way to the LL finals. That experience is huge moving forward, according to Case.
“In a lot of ways it is helpful to have already gone through it because you know what to expect,” Case said. “It gets very physical in the latter stages of the postseason. Every single team you meet is playing like it is the last game of the season because it very well could be. It is a much different atmosphere than the regular season and the fact we went so far last year really helps.”
Case got Darien on the board with a flick on goal off a free-kick by Benjamin Bidell with 8:22 remaining in the first half.
Darien increased its lead with Sommi connecting with a bouncing ball in the box 10 minutes into the second half.
Martinez rounded out the scoring with a hard-strike with 7:05 left to play.
“I thought they didn’t really trouble us today and beside set pieces and long balls didn’t have a decent shot on us today,” Darien coach Jon Bradley said. “This was a thoroughly deserved win. I didn’t think we needed to sit back and protect the lead, I thought we were on top of them and it seemed pointless to sit back and defend the lead.”
Conard (9-5-3) had to play the final 11:26 with 10 players after a red card was issued for a player swearing at the referee.
The Chieftains got a goal by Antonio Masse in the last minute of play.
DARIEN 3, CONARD 1
CONARD 0 1—1
DARIEN 1 2—3
Records: Darien 11-4-2; Conard 9-5 -3
Goals: D—Peter Case, Blake Sommi, Pablo Martinez; C—Antonio Masse. Assists: D—Benjamin Bidell. Goalies: D—David Volz 6 saves, Casey Brown 0 saves; C—Vinny Conelli 7 saves