It was a hard grind at last gripping hold of a winning record for the Blue Wave.
With knocking out a second high seed this playoffs season in No. 9 host Hamden 2-1 in the Class LL girls’ soccer playoffs on Monday, Darien improved to 8-7-3.
And that’s a little bit of a milestone in the midst of the fast peaking playoffs.
Because most of the season the girls were not in the giant-killer mode that they are in now; the 25th seed Wave having stunned No. 8 Ridgefield 2-1 in the first round away on Friday and now having swatted the Green Dragons today in round two.
“It’s clicking at the right time,” said Wave coach Leigh Parsons. “They’re fighting hard. When things aren’t going well, they’re sticking to basics. It’s really good to see.”
Caylee Waters crashed the net and hammered in a rebound from the goal line off a corner by Morgan Sawitsky at 49:10 for a 1-0 lead.
“She’s very feisty,” said Parsons of Waters. “She gets on the end of everything. That’s why we sent her in there.”
“It’s just the way I like to play, just aggressive,” Waters said. “And that’s what I’m all about. Getting the second ball and finishing.”
Sarah Vita tied it up for Hamden at 50:44 from in tight.
And freshman Katherine Cronin made a seismic shift to the inside down left wing and fired a roller to the far corner with the goalie diving in vain for the 2-1 winner with 22:40 to go in regulation time.
“Katie — a great bit of individual — class,” said Parsons. “She takes the player. A calm, cool, good shot.”
“I cut in, and I just knew I had to hit it as hard as I could,” Cronin said. “Aim for the goal.”
“We came back after they scored,” said Wave captain Parker Hamill. “We didn’t let them stop us.”
Darien took the game over in the second half.
But not before Wave keeper Phoebe Taylor (six saves) needed to make her toughest stop, rocketing to her right to nab a blistering low shot from Hamden top scorer Rachel Ugolik with eight seconds on the clock in the first half.
Taylor raced out of the net, bashing into Ugolick, to beat her to a dangerous near breakaway ball 10 minutes earlier.
“The way everyone fought for each other, the way the girls are playing right now — I said from the beginning — we’d rather warm-up at the right time,” said Parsons. “At tournament time, rather than the beginning of the season.”
Next Darien plays the giant of them all, top seed 17-0 Glastonbury, right up the bean stalk in the quarterfinals 2 p.m. Wednesday.
But can the ultimate giant be slain?
“It’s really nice to be the underdog, because there’s no expectations,” said Wave captain Vanessa Budd.
“I think we’re at a peak right now,” Darien captain Kristy Gilbert added. “I think we’re actually at the best right now, it will only get better.”
Added Hamill: “I think we really found out what really works for our team.”