Darien edged by rival New Canaan 1-0 in girls soccer

New Canaan’s Kaleigh Harden (left) and Darien’s Eilanna Dolan collide while going up for a header during Tuesday’s rivalry game at DHS. The Rams edged ahead for a 1-0 win. — Dave Stewart photo

The New Canaan-Darien rivalry is always something special. When the two teams are in the middle of good seasons and contending for playoff berths, it takes it to another level.

Such was the case on Tuesday, as the New Canaan girls soccer team rode its speed and a second-half goal by Olivia Bognon to a 1-0 victory over the Blue Wave on Darien’s turf.

Senior co-captain Kendall Patten set up the goal in the 48th minute with an adeptly-placed corner kick, with Bognon heading it inside the right post for the game’s only tally.

For Patten and the Rams (8-2-1), it was a practice makes perfect moment.

“We’ve been working on those corners every practice, every single day,” Patten said. “On me, trying to get that perfect ball, and on my teammates, trying to head the ball, We’ve had some problems with that lately but Olivia Bognon really stepped up for that goal and I’m so proud of her.”

“There was a great delivery on that,” head coach Rich Hickson said. “It’s all about delivery. She puts the great delivery in there, Olivia makes a good run and a great header.”

Outside of the goal, New Canaan had the better of play for much of the evening, especially during the second half when it utilized its speed to maintain consistent pressure on the Wave defense.

The Rams were quicker to the ball, contested most of Darien’s plays upfield, and even got the good bounces at times.

“I feel like the team that showed up 100% won,” Darien head coach Leigh Parsons said. “You’ve got to give New Canaan credit tonight, they came out, they were up for it, they played well, they were physical, they were aggressive, they put us off our game, and they marked our players tightly. “

Darien (8-3-1) received a solid performance from the defensive unit, featuring Eva Finna, Maggie Ramsay, Nelle Kniffin and Courtney Bell, which was under pressure for much of the second half. That included fine play from two goalies — starter Caroline Orphanos and then Olivia Maniscalco, who relieved when Orphanos collided with the post while attempting to block New Canaan’s goal.

“Defensively we were strong,” Parsons said. “They obviously had a plan and had a lot of players back. We tried to counter that in the second half and I think we got a little flustered and drifted away from the second-half game plan. There was a feeling of it wasn’t going our way tonight and it got to us a little bit. We’ve got to learn from it and it’s a tool that we can move on and use in a positive way.”

The Wave’s Kate Bellissimo had a good look early in the second half, but her attempt sailed over the top of the goal, and New Canaan soon turned the tables and dominated much of the next 20 minutes.

After Bognon scored with 32:35 seconds remaining, the Rams kept up the intensity and never allowed Darien to get a run going the other way.

“There was still a half-hour left, and if we changed now, we were just inviting a run” Hickson said of the decision to keep pushing forward. “They were playing similar to what we were playing so figured let’s stick with it. Then in the last 5-10 minutes, we went a little bit more defensive.”

While the Wave had a few opportunities late, they couldn’t crack the New Canaan defense, which featured goalie Jordan Patterson (6 saves)

Even with the loss, the Wave is within striking distance of an FCIAC playoff berth, now situated in fifth place.

“We’ve had a good run so far,” Parsons said. “New Canaan is a very good team, but we can compete with them. They were the stronger team, but we did compete with them and we weren’t totally out of our depth. On another day, we could have a completely different showing against this team. Now it’s just about recovery and getting ready for Staples (on Thursday); getting a game plan and trying to execute it.”

New Canaan 1, Darien 0

Tudesday, Oct. 9, at Darien HS

New Canaan 0-1 1

Darien 0-0 0

New Canaan: Olivia Bognon 1g; Kendall Patten 1a

Goalies

NC – Jordan Patterson 6 saves

D – Caroline Orphanos and Olivia Maniscalco 9 saves