GIRLS SOCCER

Like her namesake, Kate Bellissimo’s goal was a beauty.

Her strike to salvage a 1-1 tie with 6:43 to go at St. Joseph on Saturday was all the more beautiful for the fact it was achieved in the classic gritty-goal style.

But when Bellissimo crashed the net, jumped and raised her cleat to kick in the rebound from right in front, gritty turned to gorgeous right before the Wave’s eyes.

“It shows the depth on the team,” said Katie Ramsay. “Kate Bellissimo is a freshman. It’s the depth that makes us strong.”

This was a high stakes draw with Darien having one game to go against Norwalk in the regular season and FCIAC playoffs beginning with quarterfinals on Friday.

I guess it shows that we can compete with any team.

— Christine Fiore

The Wave moves to fifth place in the FCIAC with 33 points at 10-2-3.

St. Joseph (11-1-3) relinquishes first place with the tie, is tied with Ridgefield and Staples with 36 points, but slips to third.

Bellissimo’s essential offensive contribution was matched by Emily DeNunzio’s at the back end.

Right at the goal line, she made like a feet-first torpedo to stop a shot, in any other universe, destined to cross the line late in the first half.

She, Emily Bergwall, Anna Fox, Nelle Kniffin kept the Cadets in check.

Eilanna Dolan and Nathalie Bravo kept the ball in forward motion.

Wave coach Leigh Parsons had been imploring attackers to bust for the net. With Bellissimo — and in the nick of time — the coach had to implore no more.

Ellen Harnisch worked the ball on the left side, made a spin and fed back along the line to Lauren Sulger close by.

Next came, what was, nearly a purely bellissimo goal, as Sulger let fly with a shot from 15 yards that arced straight for the upper left corner.

The keeper leapt to tap it away, just, and the ball smacked off the crossbar, and fell to her left at the goal line.

At the end of a sprint, Bellissimo crashed, and the net burned.

It was even play in the first half after St. Joesph scored off a Wave miscue in tight just 1:57 into the game.

A shot rattled the far post and stopped dead on the ground taking a peculiar bounce, and throwing off the defenders.

The Cadets put it in straight from the goal line.

“I thought we showed a lot of grit in the second half,” said Darien goalie Christine Fiore (seven saves) “We came out from a, rougher, first half.”

The second half was mostly rough on the host.

Bleed Blue Award

The Bleed Blue Award — it’s not a real award, it’s just what the team wears on a t-shirt, but it matters — goes to senior Onora Brown, who really left it on the field.

Fighting to keep the ball inside the Cadets’ end during a rash of harsh play at midfield near the end of the game as Darien strived to break free for a bid on a winning goal, Brown jumped for a ball and caught an elbow, it appeared, from the girl in front of her, sustaining a heavy blow and a cut on the nose.

She was driven off the field in a cart, banged up, sitting up, bandaged, but lucid, on the way to seek further attention, and it was expected stitches.

It’s been that kind of year, for the midfield standout, and an injury riddled Darien.

Brown had been out with a concussion for some games, but was back and fierce in this one.

Harnisch and Ramsay were fierce up front. And they strained at the bit to score as the game wore on.

It only seemed a matter of time.

But like Fiore said, some early time went by the wayside, then time just ran out.

And this left the girls somewhat glum, following what is still a good road result that gained the Wave a needed point in the playoffs race.

What hurts is they know, they could have had this.

“I guess it shows that we can compete with any team,” said Fiore.

A VIDEO of Game Highlights, with Bellissimo's beauty, DeNunzio's defensive gems, and some afterthoughts just prior to the start of the playoff season is featured on this site