After a great campaign in 2017, Darien girls soccer looks to continue success

Ellen Harnisch races ahead to get the ball during a Darien victory last fall. — Darien Athletic Foundation photo

The 2017 campaign was something of a dream season for the Darien Blue Wave girls soccer team.

After going 11-2-3 during the regular season, the Wave rebounded from a first-round knockout in the FCIAC tournament, and won three of four games in the CIAC Class LL playoffs. That run included perhaps the program’s biggest victory ever, as Darien knocked off top-ranked and undefeated Suffield 1-0 in the quarterfinals, scoring one of just three goals allowed by Suffield all season.

The Wave’s bid for a berth in the final ended with a 3-2 loss to Staples in the semifinals, but the year was certainly a winner for Darien.

Nathalie Bravo controls the ball in the midfield at Darien High School last year. — Darien Athletic Foundation

Now, the Wave and head coach Leigh Parsons will be looking to build on that success, while overcoming the graduation of 14 seniors.

“Some might consider this a rebuilding year,” said Parsons, “but, with hard work and dedication from the players and coaches, this team should get back to where we need to be. If everything clicks, we have the talent to give other teams problems.”

Leading the way are the team’s four senior co-captains, all of whom played key roles in last year’s run.

Captains Anna Fox and Eva Finn will star on defense, while fellow captains Lauren Sulger and Eilanna Dolan will be featured in the midfield.

Those four leaders will try to help the Wave deal with the graduation of a large senior class that included defender Emily DeNunzio, the first Darien player ever to earn a spot in the High School All-American game. DeNunzio is now playing at Colgate.

Also graduated are goalie Christine Fiore and forward Katie Ramsay, who are playing lacrosse at the US Naval Academy and USC, respectively.

While those departures and others are hard to overcome, the Wave still boasts a large senior class of 15 players who will now get their chance to write their own story.

Among those are a pair of forward/midfielders in Ellen Harnisch and Nathalie Bravo.

Seniors on defense include Caroline Orphanos, a goalkeeper, along with Anna Sapio, Annie Arrix, Olivia Yoo, and Sophia Cortellesi.

The midfield corps of seniors includes Elizabeth Corney, Lily Kosnik and Cameron Appley, with Taylor Richards up top at forward. Parsons also expects contributions from freshmen midfielders Maggie Ramsey and Shea Dolce.

The FCIAC schedule is a minefield of great teams which includes the St. Joseph Cadets and their All-American midfielder Jessica Mazo, along with perennial contenders such as Staples, Ridgefield, Warde, Trumbull and Wilton.

The Wave opens the season at Bridgeport Central on Friday, and Darien’s first big test will come on Tuesday night, Sept. 11, when it plays the Eagles at Trumbull High School starting at 5:30 p.m.

Wilton and Ridgefield are on deck for late September, and a showdown with rival New Canaan and a rematch with state semifinal rematch with Staples loom in back-to-back games on Oct. 9 and 11.