Greenwich entered Friday’s night’s girls soccer showdown against Darien with a berth in next week’s FCIAC Tournament already wrapped up, but that wasn’t the scenario for the Blue Wave.

Darien knew it had to beat Greenwich, then defeat Trumbull on Tuesday to qualify for the FCIAC Tournament. Well, senior Katie Cronin helped the Blue Wave gain the first victory they so desperately needed.

In a back-and-forth battle, Cronin’s goal in the 35th minute propelled Darien to a well-earned 1-0 win over FCIAC rival Greenwich at Cardinal Stadium.

With their third consecutive triumph, the Blue Wave raised their record to 8-6-1 and gained three points in the standings, giving them 25. Currently, they are tied with Staples for the eighth place in the conference — the top eight teams make the FCIAC Tournament.

“This win helps us keep the FCIAC dream alive,” Darien coach Leigh Parsons said. “It’s a huge win for us against one of the top teams in the league. We know we are capable of doing that on our day.”

The Cardinals (10-3-2, 32 points) went into the game on a roll, having won six straight matches. They will go into the FCIAC tourney as either the No. 3 or 4 seed and will get a home game in the first round.

“It’s always a nice rivalry with Darien,” GHS coach Danny Simpson said. “This was good preparation for us going into the playoffs. I thought we had the lion-share of the play, it was in their half a lot. But we didn’t convert our possession into shots.”

Cronin, a forward, showed her speed and skill on the game-winner. Receiving a pass from junior Emma Lesko, she dribbled by a pair of players down the right sideline, positioned herself and booted a right-footed shot past Greenwich goalie Emma Barefoot into the left corner of the goal, making it 1-0 with 4:03 left in the first half.

“We were just looking to get the ball forward,” Cronin said. “I was isolated up top with two defenders, then Emma got me the pass and I turned and ran at them. This win was super important for us. We had a couple of tough losses that set us back, so we needed this game.”

Added Parsons: “Katie is a very dangerous striker. She took on two or three players and her finish was excellent. The whole sequence leading up to the goal was great, with her keeping the ball and showing patience.”

Greenwich had possession for a good portion of the opening half with senior midfielders Treloara Harrisson and Jessica Bartholomew and forward Katie Gallagher sparking the attack. The Cards drew numerous corner kicks throughout the match, but the Blue Wave did an effective job of clearing the ball out of the box most of the time, courtesy of defenders Margaret Skeats and Laura Murphy.

“We defended corners well,” Parsons said. “Overall, I’m happy with our defensive performance, which was solid.”

Barefoot made five saves in goal for the Cardinals, while Darien goalie Kate Fiore also had five saves. In the second half, Greenwich forced several more corner kicks, most of which were initiated by Harrisson and they nearly tallied on a pair of them. GHS senior forward Anna Giannuzzi almost scored after going on a strong run to the goal, but Fiore stepped up to make the save.

“The second half they did a good job of trying to stop us from creating,” Simpson said. “We created some set pieces, but their keeper made some nice saves. They needed this win and they played like they were fighting for their lives.”

Cardinals senior tri-captain Katie Harford helped solidify the defense, which was also led by senior tri-captain Callie Doyle.

“We had the momentum, but we couldn’t put it away,” Harford said. “In the second half, we barely took a shot and we played more of an individual game, which is not the way we normally play. This is just a bump in the road for us though. We are so excited to be back in the FCIAC Tournament and we have big plans going forward.”

david.fierro@scni.com; 203-625-4423

DARIEN 1, GREENWICH 0

DARIEN 1 0 — 1

GREENWICH 0 0 — 0

Goals: D — Katie Cronin; Goalies: D — Kate Fiore (5 saves); G — Emma Barefoot (5 saves).

Records: Greenwich 10-3-2; Darien 8-6-1.