Darien eliminates Westhill in overtime in first round of FCIAC tourney
DARIEN - It took 100 minutes of soccer, but No. 3 Darien boys team advanced to the semifinals of the FCIAC tournament with a 3-2 overtime win against No. 6 Westhill at Darien High School Friday night. Darien moves on to face No. 2 Trumbull at Fairfield Ludlowe High School at either 5 or 7 p.m.
Darien's Eric Kanigan scored his second of two goals on a penalty kick with 1:07 remaining in the first overtime, and the Blue Wave held on for the win, despite several quality Viking scoring opportunities. For Darien, which held a 2-0 lead at halftime, the game was a roller coaster from start to finish.
"I was just trying to keep a clear head. You don't get many opportunities like that, so I just wanted to pick my spot and put it there," Kanigan said. "I think going into halftime we were a bit overconfident, and we saw that when they got the two goals. We should have closed them down."
Kanigan's heroics were made possible by the hard work of teammates Spencer McMullin and Brennan Blanca, who sustained a minor injury on the play. McMullin dribbled the ball to the outside before sending it back to Blanca, who was tripped up for the penalty shot. According to Kanigan, Branca would have taken the penalty kick had he not been injured on the play.
"That's a fantastic game. It really legitimizes what we've done this season," Darien coach Jon Bradley said. "This is all fun for us. The first half we were excellent."
Westhill immediately picked up its play in the second half and began to generate more scoring opportunities. The Vikings required less than three minutes to cut their deficit in half, as Jacques Baudoin dribbled in to score an unassisted goal past Darien goalie Jack Fisher.
Baudoin's goal set the stage for a tense second half, in which the ball was seemingly always on Darien's side of the field. Fisher made several lead-preserving saves and got help from Darien defenders Geoffrey Hubbard, Elliot Helgans and Matt Collier, but the Blue Wave finally surrendered the equalizer with 4:45 remaining.
With Westhill's (9-6-2) David Quito attempting a corner kick, the ball bounced to Enzo Caso, who blasted the ball past Fisher to knot the game at 2-2.
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Although his team let a two-goal advantage get away, Bradley seemed to believe that it was more of a case of Westhill stepping up than his team playing too conservative.
"[Westhill] thoroughly dominated everything [in the second half]. It was like trying to stop a freight train," Bradley said. "I think it was just two very good teams working very hard out there."
In the first half, it looked like smooth sailing for Darien (12-2-3) into the semifinals of the FCIAC tournament, as the Blue Wave had the Vikings on their heels.
Darien's Marcus Iqbal opened up the scoring just past the 10-minute mark by beating Westhill goalie Eli Kisselbach.
"Eliot [Helgans] threw it in and Geoff [Hubbard] told me to go in and make a run. I ran in close to the post and I just headed it in with the side of my head," Iqbal said.
Several scoring chances later and with 16:04 remaining in the half, Darien took a 2-0 lead when Kanigan launched a shot from about 30 yards away towards the Westhill goal. Kisselbach leapt high to get his fingertips on the shot, but the ball eluded the Westhill keeper for the 2-0 lead.
Westhill defeated Darien 7-1 in the season opener before later having to forfeit the game due to use of an ineligible player, and all that remains in the 2010 season for the Vikings is the State tournament.
"We really felt coming into this tournament we felt that we had a pretty good chance of making a good run. But, unfortunately, Darien was just a goal better today," Westhill coach Joe Andrews said. "It's going to hurt for a while. I really can't complain about the way they played. It's just tough."
WESTHILL 0 2 0 0--2
DARIEN 2 0 1 0--3
Records: Darien (12-2-3); Westhill (9-6-2).
Goals: W--Jacques Baudoin, Enzo Caso. D--Eric Kanigan 2, Marcus Iqbal Assists: W--David Quito. Goalies: W--Eli Kisselbach (5 saves); D--Jack Fisher (9). Shots: W--16; D--9.