Behind Mahoney, Darien girls soccer gives coach his 50th victory
Offense shines in 5-1 victory
DARIEN -- Friday's game against Stamford High was especially important for the Darien High School girls soccer team.
Consider it missions accomplished as Darien rolled to a 5-1 home victory that left the Blue Wave at 4-0-1 on the season.
"Our goal coming into the season was to be 6-0 after our first six games," said Darien assistant coach Megan Korn, whose team tied Wilton earlier in the week. "A season within a season is what we called it. Where we stand now is pretty close to that and we are happy. We lost eight starters from last year's team and the girls have done a great job filling in the roles of all the players we lost last season."
As for the game, Darien dominated from the beginning, utilizing the play of senior captain Kelly Mahoney, who had a hand in all five Blue Wave goals as she collected two goals and three assists.
In the second minute, Darien's Nina Pawelczyk found space down the right side and played a low cross to Mahoney at the front post. Her one touch volley beat Stamford goalkeeper Angela Altamura, giving the Blue Wave a lead they would never relinquish.
Two minutes later, Mahoney herself found space down the left side and played a wonderful arching cross into the penalty area.
After two Darien players mishit the ball, it fell kindly to Marieka Bravo, who blasted it home. In the 10th minute, Mahoney again created the goal via a corner kick that was headed home by Georgie Highton.
Darien's attack continued applying pressure throughout the first half. The score could have been more lopsided had Altamura, in her first start in net for Stamford High, not settled down and kept her the Black Knights close with a plethora of fine saves. Altamura often went into the air against Darien field players for crosses.
"I was nervous in the beginning of the game," Altamura said with a knowing smile about her first game between the posts. "But after the first 10 minutes, I broke out and got comfortable. It was really kind of fun."
Early in the second half, Stamford (0-5-1) got a goal back from a free kick by Lauren Schapiro. The long-range shot from 30 yards carried over the hands of the Darien goalkeeper, who could only get her fingertips to the ball as it flew over her head.
In the last five minutes, Mahoney proved why she is one of the best players in the FCIAC and was recruited to play at Villanova.
In the 74th minute, she received possession 35 yards from goal and slotted a diagonal through ball in between four Stamford defenders to find Liz Calby alone at the back post. Calby finished with poise to the far post, making it 4-1.
Mahoney completed the scoring with a fine individual effort. She received the ball at the side of the Stamford goal box and danced towards the middle of the field. As she reached the center of the box, she let go a right-footed effort back across goal that nestled into the top corner, giving Altamura no chance.
After the contest, Bradley had nothing but praise for his star. Though his team is full of talented players like Pawelczyk, Highton, and Bravo, none has the influence of Mahoney.
"In my eyes Kelly is one of the two best players in the FCIAC," he said. "She has had a hand in just about every goal we have scored this season. They is no doubt of her importance to our team and any success we will have this season."
Stamford coach Jessica Butkaris had no illusions about the quality of the Blue Wave after the game. Despite still looking for their first win of the season, the coach saw a number of things to be proud of from her team.
"We always knew Darien would be a tough team, they are always tough," Butkaris said. "But I'm proud of my girls today because of the intensity the girls brought to the game.
"We have been fighting injuries all season and a bunch of girls that played today hadn't seen much playing time in the past. They really stepped up and showed a lot of heart."