NEW CANAAN -- In the latest installment of the New Canaan-Darien saga, it was the Blue Wave which halted their crosstown rival's attempt at a perfect season in the FCIAC semifinals on Monday at New Canaan High School.
With the 15-9 win, fourth-seeded Darien advances to Friday's 4 p.m. FCIAC title game to take on No. 3 Greenwich at Brien McMahon in Norwalk.
"Beating them by this much today was great. Being under the lights, everyone was ready to go," said Darien's Brynn Gasparino, who scored five goals. "If we play like we did today, we can definitely beat (Greenwich). We have to keep the ball moving in the midfield and finish our shots because we did not do that the first time we played them."
Darien's first shot of the game resulted in a goal by Gasparino, assisted by Dillon Schoen, just past the one-minute mark. Twenty-eight second later, New Canaan's Bea Eppler found Brianna McEwan to pull the Rams even.
Ten scoreless minutes later, New Canaan was back on top when Sarah Mannelly scored by charging the Darien net for the 2-1 advantage, prompting the Blue Wave to call a timeout.
Three minutes later, Darien struck back when Gasparino notched her second marker on a hard short-range shot. Darien then took its second lead of the contest when Kristen Gilbert scored two goals in the span of 51 seconds.
Darien further padded its lead on a goal by Taylor Hardison for a 5-2 lead, and New Canaan immediately called timeout.
New Canaan got back into the game at 5-3 when Isabel Taben found Carolina Lizzio for a goal with 3:34 remaining in the half, but Darien recaptured the momentum after Charlett Stevenson found Taylor Hardison with 1:26 remaining in the half. Hardison also drew a penalty shot with 3.4 seconds left and scored with 1.3 seconds on the clock to give the Blue Wave a 7-3 lead heading into halftime.
"I think that was a big momentum shift going into the half," Hardison said. "Everyone handled the ball well, played good defense and buried their shots."
Darien didn't stop there and came out flying in the second half, scoring the first three goals. Jena Fritts, Hardison and Gasparino all found the back of the net to boost the Blue Wave lead to 10-3 before the Rams had registered a second half shot.
New Canaan got one back when Kristine Ryan scored to cut the Darien lead to 10-4, but that was as close as New Canaan would get.
"We weren't coming up with the draw controls, and they were doing a really good job of running through and being aggressive," New Canaan coach Kristen Woods said. "It came down to possession, too. We barely had the ball in the first half."
Darien 15, New Canaan 9
DARIEN 7 8--15
NEW CANAAN 3 6--9
Records: Darien 13-5 (11-2 FCIAC), New Canaan 17-1 (12-1 FCIAC).
Scoring: D--Taylor Hardison (4g, 3a), Brynn Gasparino (5g), Kristen Gilbert (3g), Jena Fritts (1g), Charlett Stevenson (1g, 1a), Dillon Schoen (1g, 1a), Emily Stein (3a) . NC--Kristine Ryan (3g), Olivia Hompe (2g), Brianna McEwan (1g), Carolina Lizzio (1g), Sarah Mannelly (1g), Lily Citrin (1g), Bea Eppler (1a), Isabel Taben (1a). Goalies: D--Caylee Waters (6 saves); NC--Liz O'Sullivan (7). Shots: D--24; NC--18.