Darien girls soccer eliminates previously-unbeaten Suffield in Class LL playoffs

The Blue Wave has done it again.

In the FCIAC tournament, the Wave eliminated the number No. 1 seeded — and previously unbeaten — Staples Wreckers in the quarterfinals. This time, in the second round of the state Class LL tournament,  the No. 18 seed Darien girls varsity soccer team (12-6-2) destroyed another team’s perfect season by beating the previously undefeated No. 2 seed Suffield Wildcats (15-1-1).

Notably, not only was Suffield undefeated, the Wildcats had not let in a single goal all season until their loss to the Wave 1-0.

“We knew when you go play a team who are undefeated all season — haven't lost a game, zero goals against and over 80 goals for, you have to go in being ready to play,” head coach Leigh Parsons said. “But we felt confident in our own ability and what we've done against some pretty good teams already this season. We knew that if we showed up we could give them a tough game, so it was kind of stick to the game plan and execute and if we can do that we can compete against the best.”

After scoreless regulation play, the game went into the first of two overtimes before the Wave’s Lauren Sulger was able to score with less than a minute left in the first overtime.

“It was pretty much just the way it had been going the regular game,” Sulger said. “And then Nathalie Bravo got a throw in and it trickled through about three of my players. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time and saw an opportunity to poke the ball in and it luckily went past the goalkeeper. We were so excited — it was actually kind of shocking at first because we'd just played 90 minutes of soccer and finally were able to score, so if anything it was just really exciting and thrilling at the same time.”

Sulger’s goal left Wave goalie Olivia Maniscalco in the position of defending the lead for the 10-minute second overtime.

“That was really hard, because Lauren scored with 19 seconds left, so the Suffield team knew that if they didn't score in those 10 minutes their season would be over, so they definitely pressed hard,” Maniscalco said. “Our whole team worked really hard because we knew that if they scored that we would most likely go to penalty kicks, and nobody wants to go to penalty kicks, but I think my whole team played their heart out even though there was a lot of pressure.”

Ellen Harnisch, Anna Fox, Nelle Kniffin, Maggie Ramsey and Eilanna Dolan all had strong performances for the Wave, but according to coach Parsons, the victory belonged to the efforts of the team working as a unit.

"I can name every girl and say someone who did well because it was a true team performance and effort, and that's when we're our strongest — when everyone contributes," Parsons said.

Next up for the Wave are the state Class LL quarterfinals on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m, where they will face FCIAC champions and No. 7 seed Ridgefield Tigers, who defeated the Wave 2-0 in the regular season.

“It’s going to be a battle,” Parsons said. “But we're going in with confidence. There's nothing to lose. If we play our game we can be a handful for them.”