Wave Advances to FCIAC Semis For First Time Since 2015


Darien’s Matthew Kennedy striking the ball in a game vs. Wilton (photo courtesy of DAF)

Braden Schenck, Writer

On Thursday afternoon, the Darien Blue Wave took down the Fairfield Ludlowe Falcons in the 2022 FCIAC Boys Soccer quarterfinals.

The Wave after a 10-4-2 regular season found themselves as the three seed in this year’s tournament and hosted the sixth-seeded Falcons. They met in the regular season at the Stadium Field, and the Wave came on top 4-1.

This one saw Darien coming out of the gate firing. Just five minutes in the Wave found themselves peppering shots on Ludlowe net miner Alex Parent. Parent made 14 saves in the Falcons’ loss after surrendering two goals on the day.

Ludlowe’s first look came in the 12th minute when Tommy Melvin received the free kick for the Falcons. Melvin gave it the run-up, but the defender Gaurav Parwal played it perfectly knocking it away.

Alex Parent again found himself in a pickle in the 20th minute of play. James and Matthew Kennedy were streaking downfield for the Wave on the break. Parent coming a long way out of the box dived to his right to stop a Kennedy shot. Parent came out of the net many times in this one, and it was a matter of time before one got by him.

An opportunity came for the Wave in the 27th minute of play when Trevor Pegg got the through-ball pass and entered the box on the right side. He was tripped by Ludlowe’s Leo Nascimento and was awarded the penalty kick. With the clock stopped and Bobby Whittaker taking the kick for the Wave, this was a defining moment. Whittaker and Parent went one on one in this one. Whittaker with the run-up and went to the right side, Parent guessed right and knocked the ball away with one hand. A big stop for the Falcons keeping the momentum on their side despite seeing few offensive opportunities in the first half.

In the 32nd minute, a corner kick from Jack Peattie would be kicked out to the midfield by Ludlowe defenders. Peattie read it well and defended the ball grabbing possession right back. Peattie kicked a ball up in the air to James Kennedy, Kennedy jumped up, and headed the ball into the net for a score. A classic one-timer with James Kennedy finishing on the header to give Darien the 1-0 advantage. Parent was fooled as he watched the ball roll to his left and into the net.

Darien was not done yet in the first half, three minutes before the half, Peattie had a direct free kick he sent into the box. Parent would come up and watch as the ball deflected off a Ludlowe defender and then ricocheted off Whittaker and over Parent’s head. The ball was a clear goal giving Darien the 2-0 lead.

The Wave entered halftime being the favorite in this one. Ludlowe had only three shots on goal the entire first half and needed to change that if they wanted to win. The Falcons only had one main striker in Matthew Menozzi, who was being under heavy coverage and couldn’t do much.

During the first twenty minutes of the second half, Tommy Branca saw some action. Free kicks, corner kicks, and shots on goal came left and right from the Falcons as Tommy marched his way to an 8-save performance on the day.

Branca even made a clutch save on a PK attempt from the Falcons in the second half.

The defensive battle was the story of the second half as the Wave would pick up the win 2-0 at the Stadium. For Darien, they continue their magical season, and for the first time since the 2015 season, the Wave advances to the FCIAC Semifinals.

Last year, as a four seed, the team welcomed in Ridgefield for the FCIAC quarterfinals. The Tigers would get the best of the Wave in PK’s and upset the Wave. Exactly 363 days later the Wave got their revenge and took care of business.

Darien now enters the neutral site of Fairfield Ludlowe’s Taft Field for Tuesday’s semi-final showdown with the 2nd seeded Norwalk Bears.

Norwalk beat the Wave 1-0 to open the season, but Darien is fired up for revenge. Darien is still chasing a first-ever FCIAC crown, and this might be head coach Jon Bradley’s best squad to do so.




LUDLOWE 0 0 — 0

DARIEN 2 0 — 2

Scoring: D – James Kennedy (32′); D – Bobby Whittaker (37′).

Goalkeepers: FL – Alex Parent 14 saves; D – Tommy Branca 8 saves.

Records: Ludlowe 8-7-1; Darien 11-4-2.