Fairfield Warde girls soccer trips Darien in double overtime

It took overtime -- double OT in fact -- but the Fairfield Warde High School girls' soccer team defeated Darien 3-1 in double overtime in the opening round of the Class L State Tournament on Monday night.

No. 17 Darien (8-6-1 in the regular season), which beat Warde 1-0 in the regular campaign has been eliminated from the postseason and No. 16 Warde (which went 7-4-5 this year) advances to Wednesday's second round clash with top-seeded and unbeaten Berlin at 2 p.m.

With the game even at 1-1 in the second 10 minute overtime, Warde junior Kathryn Young took a cross from Sarah Duffy and, from outside the 18-yard box, lofted a left-footed shot into the far upper corner of the goal -- just out of the reach of Darien goalkeeper Charlotte Phillips. The goal gave Warde a 2-1 lead and sparked a celebration among the home team's players and fans with 6:55 showing on the scoreboard clock. Darien still had time to tie the game and force penalty kicks and Darien coach Jon Bradley pulled his keeper for an extra attack player -- as is often done in hockey -- with 4:23 left in Darien's season. Senior Liz Calby wore the keeper shirt and played up as Darien pushed to tie the game. She dropped back when necessary and made a save but couldn't get to a high shot by Warde senior Caroline Lutz from about 30 yards out with 3:41 to play.

"That insurance goal was pretty big," said Warde Coach Tom Cunningham, adding that the outcome was still very much up in the air until his Mustangs made it a two-goal game.

"It was a relief. We've been fighting for goals all year," the coach said of the feeling following the go-ahead goal.

Darien had taken a 1-0 lead with 10:43 to play in the first half on a goal by junior Georgie Highton set up by senior Rachel Kanigan. The host Mustangs responded when Duffy scored a goal assisted by sophomore Carly Mappa with just 2:04 to play before the break. The goal was set up when freshman Emily Pullen threw the ball in and junior Taylor Bargmann flicked the ball to Mappa who crossed it to Duffy.

Neither team could score despite good chances at both ends in the second half. When all was said and done Warde had outshot Darien 10-4. Phillips made six saves and her counterpart, Ali Rocchi, had three saves.

"It was such an invigorating game," said Duffy, adding that many of the Warde girls know the Darien players from offseason soccer leagues.

"Darien's a great team. It feels good to beat a team like that," Rocchi added.

Cunningham was pleased with the efforts of all of his players, led by junior center back Alex Kelly who thwarted several Darien chances. Young's goal, of course, was the highlight

of the game but the junior credited the entire team for

making the winning outcome possible.

"We all tried hard. We all fought for it," Young said. "I think we played so great. We worked as a team."

"We never gave up," Duffy said. "It was a fun game."

The Mustangs will have their work cut out against 16-0 Berlin but Cunningham believes the top-notch competition in the FCAIC, which includes rival Darien, goes a long way.

"Coming out of the FCIAC, it really prepares you for these tough games," Cunningham said. "They know what to expect coming out every game."

"I'm really confident in our team if we can keep playing together," Duffy added.