What's the best cure for a slow start to the season?

How about a convincing win over your chief rival?

Without any victories in its first three games, the New Canaan boys soccer team trumped Darien 2-0 Monday at Connor Field for a key conference win. Rams co-captain Alex Hutchins tapped in a redirected free kick in the game's opening 10 minutes, and junior Alex Smith scored off a well-executed counterattack moments after halftime. Blue Wave goalie Liam Rischmann registered three saves.

"Hopefully that's a stepping stone to something more," said New Canaan coach Rich Sutherland whose team improved to 1-2-1. "I thought we could've won by maybe another couple at the end. I thought we were the better team today ¦ and the boys were brilliant."

Darien (2-3) hemmed the Rams in their defensive third over the majority of the first half with high pressure, which yielded multiple free and corner kick opportunities. However, neither Wave captain Henrick Stockinger nor sophomore Harrison Gill could convert on set piece chances, denied by a strong and physical New Canaan backline.

Meanwhile, Rams junior Brett Capone helped put his team on the board early via a free kick roughly 25 yards up from the left corner flag that dropped into the box and off Hutchins for a goal. New Canaan's initial score, its first since the team's season opener three weeks ago, was one by-product of a solid game plan the Blue Wave couldn't stop despite having full knowledge of it at kickoff.

"We knew how they were going to play," Darien coach Jon Bradley said. "They play on the counterattack, sit and defend and then try to hit you with their quick forwards. And they got the better of us today."

Seconds under the 20-minute mark, Smith misfired on a wide-open shot atop the box, drawing loud groans from the sidelines. Though he did not miss his next scoring opportunity; a perfectly lobbed ball that he rifled past a diving Darien goalie Liam Rischmann into the back left corner during the second half.

Lifted by a 2-0 lead, the Rams began to pull back defensively and thus allowed only two quality chances in the final 20 minutes. Junior goalie Griffin Paterson expertly came out to stop the end of a 3-on-2 Blue Wave push, which ultimately resulted in a 1-on-1 Andrew Mathew breakaway. At under three minutes left, New Canaan survived a straightaway Darien free kick from 23 yards out, thanks to a strong wall and an easy Paterson save.

"I thought we defended well as a team and limited them to very little, which is good because they're a good team in the air," Sutherland said. "They put teams under a lot of pressure in the box, they're very physical, they're very intense and I thought we matched them today."

New Canaan returns to the pitch 4 p.m. Wednesday at Harding, while Darien will host Trumbull at 3 p.m.

New Canaan 2, Darien 0

DARIEN..............0 0"0

NEW CANAAN...... 1 1"2

Records: Darien 2-3; New Canaan 1-2-1. Goals: New Canaan--Alex Hutchins, Alex Smith. Assists: Brett Capone, Chase Williams. Goalies: Darien--Liam Rischmann (3 saves) New Canaan--Griffin Paterson (2). Shots: Darien 9; New Canaan 5