Staples vs. Darien

So far this season, Darien has been the surprise of the FCIAC.  Under new head coach Jon Bradley, the Blue Wave surged to a 7-1-2 record.  The lone loss (1-0) was at Wilton; ties came against New Canaan (1-1) and Danbury (3-3).

With Staples at 7-0-2, today’s match on the Darien turf looked like a great contest.

Though the Wreckers took command from the start — and just missed a 3:00 goal, when Steve Smith’s free kick slammed off the crossbar — then continued to press, the hosts drew first blood.

A nifty half-volley off a long free kick stunned the crowd — and, probably, both sides.

It was a familiar spot.  Three days ago in Greenwich the Wreckers found themselves down 1-0 after 6 minutes, 2-0 after 23, before rallying for a 3-2 win.

The rest of the 1st half today, in fact, saw some of Staples’ best soccer of the year.  Their quick-passing game was on; they found teammates easily, and forced the Wavers back on defense.

But Darien was equal to the task.  They were strong in the air, and after winning balls they went forward with speed and tenacity.

The 2nd half started with the Westporters knowing they needed more bite in the box.  Within 30 seconds they earned a free kick.  Keeper Fisher saved well.  Then Max Hoberman earned a corner; Ben Root’s header sailed wide.

Hoberman’s cross was hit high; Smith was saved again on a free kick.

At the other end, James Hickok was forced to save 2 consecutive Darien corners.

David Hoffman earned a free kick; Fisher punched it out of danger.

As the clock ticked down, Staples pressed.  But the Wavers managed the game intelligently.  In the final 3 minutes they defended against 3 straight corner kicks, and several throw-ins.

When the final horn sounded, still-surging Darien had their 1st win against Staples since 1997 — and another big victory in what is shaping up as perhaps their best season ever.

“We actually played very, very well — perhaps our best possession, and some of our most team-oriented defense of the year,” said head coach Dan Woog.

“What we lacked was someone who could snipe in a goal.  Darien got theirs, and we didn’t — that was the difference today.”  Final score:  Darien 1, Staples 0.  Season record:  7-1-2.  

QUICK KICKS: Staples outshot Darien 16-5, and led in corner kicks 8-3….

Ethan Bradeen started and played strongly on defense for the Wreckers….

Darien and Staples first met in 1965.  The Wreckers lead the series 36-5-3….

Today’s match marked the 1st time this year Staples has not scored….

The junior varsity beat Darien 4-1.  Andreas Bru scored from long range; Daniel Boyce tallied, assisted by Yusef Shahin; Steve Sobel headed in Robby Giannone’s corner kick, and Jon Denowitz knocked in a loose ball.  Coaches Seth Sholes and Brad Green cited Walker Marsh, Sam Koenig, Sebo Hood and Charlie Jersey for their strong defensive work, while Ryan Moran looked solid in goal….

The freshmen won twice in 2 days.  First they topped Fairfield Warde 4-1, behind 3 goals from Nate Argosh and 1 from Jordan McNair.  Saba Goodarzi and keeper Andrew Osorio stood out.  They then shut out New Canaan 4-0, with 2 goals each from Argosh and McNair.  Coaches Chris O’Dell and Julien Delepine praised Goodarzi and Michael Reid for their fine play.

It's close -- but not close enough -- for the Wreckers in Darien. (Photo by Carl McNair)

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