New Canaan, Darien girls battle to a draw
DARIEN -- Fifteen seconds lingered on the clock, and Darien junior Katie Cronin was busy sprinting after the ball. She had seemingly been in pursuit all afternoon.
But as Cronin chased this particular ball, she began to disappear.
For following a faraway New Canaan touch, it had trickled down a short hill behind the right flag, where she intended to fire a last-second corner kick in a scoreless game. At five ticks left, Cronin reappeared, placed the ball down, stepped back and hurriedly drove a line drive into a mass of blue and red.
The horn then sounded, and the ball ricocheted harmlessly away from goal.
Such was the offensive-challenged day for Cronin and the Blue Wave Friday, which outshot the rival Rams 17-4 but could only muster a 0-0 tie. New Canaan goalie Katie Donovan tallied 10 saves, including a stellar leaping effort at the 78-minute mark to stop a Kendra Fitzpatrick shot in traffic. Darien (3-3-3) produced 13 corner kicks, punctuated by Cronin's last-ditch effort.
The draw kept the Blue Wave near the bottom of a packed FCIAC East division, while the Rams (4-3-2) remained in third with 15 points. Darien has now earned one win from its last six kickoffs.
"The majority of our games, we've played well. We're just having a tough time finishing and getting that win. We probably had 70 percent of the possession or play today," Darien coach Leigh Parsons said. "We're creating. It's just not getting in the back of the net for us right now. It's just frustrating to dominate games and not come away with more of a tie."
New Canaan's top chances of the match came in the final six minutes, as a pair of crosses from Marina Braccio came up empty. Blue Wave freshman Emily DeNunzio cleared Braccio's second serve towards net after goalie Kate Fiore had vacated goal in her attempt to deny the cross. A Darien counterattack then culminated in Cronin's corner kick and a shot on goal, the fourth such
Despite his team's offensive struggles, Rams coach Kirk Bamford left his team with a positive message focusing on the fact they had come away with a point despite playing below their potential.
"We knew we were going to play a very direct style of play today. They play very aggressive to just getting the ball in the final third but I thought we coped with it very well," Bamford said. "We handled it well and didn't crumble and give into it. We've played strong defensively, but today we just didn't quite click offensively. And to come away with a draw speaks volumes for the girls' attitudes."
Fitzpatrick, who peppered Donovan with shots in each half, spoke to Darien's gameplan of keeping the ball low as a large reason for her success.
"We tried to keep composure and play to feet instead of in the air and that worked really well," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm feeling good we had a lot of chances. We just had to put it in the net. But we'll work on it and we still have a lot of tough games ahead of us."
Darien 0, New Canaan 0
NEW CANAAN 0 0"0
DARIEN 0 0"0
Records: Darien 3-3-3; New Canaan 4-3-2. Goalies: New Canaan--Katie Donovan (10 saves). Darien--Kate Fiore (2). Shots: New Canaan 4; Darien 17.