The streak was threatened, but as has happened many times during the past three-plus seasons, the Darien Blue Wave responded.
Seven seconds after Manhasset’s Louis Perfetto forged a tie, Darien regained the lead as Tanner Strub won the ensuing faceoff and Brian Minicus scored with 52.7 seconds to play, giving the Wave a wild 7-6 victory Saturday at DHS.
With the win, Darien remained unbeaten at 5-0, extended its winning streak to 59 games and, most importantly, responded to another early-season test.
“To our credit, we rallied from a deficit at the half and took the lead,” head coach Jeff Brameier said. “And then when we gave the lead away and they tied it up, Tanner won a crucial faceoff at a crucial time, and Brian stuck one.”
While the offense had the glory of the final goal, Darien’s defense really provided the key to the game, delivering a great performance against an Indians’ squad which was content to slow it down on offense and possess the ball.
“Manhasset did a good job possessing the ball, knowing that they didn’t want to put the ball in the hands of our offense very much,” Brameier said. “They were winning faceoffs early and they were very disciplined. They didn’t take shots that weren’t good shots and they didn’t turn the ball over too much.”
Darien goalie Sean Collins had another solid game with eight saves, while long poles Andrew Darby, Matt Gould, Tyler Strub and Connor Olson, along with middies Blake Sommi and Jack Joyce, helped keep the Indians in check.
“We could’ve tuned some things up, but overall we played well defensively,” said Darby, a senior co-captain. “We knew who their good players were, so we were going to pole and that really helped out a lot. (Manhasset) played really well today. They slowed the ball down well which kind of rattled us a little bit, but we were able to overcome it.”
“In this kind of game, you get a lot of different contributors when t’s close,” Brameier said. “Obviously, our goalie played well and our defense played well between Andrew Darby and Matt Gould and our long polesmen. Blake Sommi and Jack Joyce were playing two ways, offensive and defensive middies, and they’re great D-middies.”
Minicus led the attack with a hat trick, including the highlight-reel game-winner, and he also dished out one assist. Logan McGovern scored one goal and had two assists, while midfielder Henri Pfeifle had one goal and one assist. Ryan Darby and Hudon Pokorny also scored, and Tanner Strub had an assist on the game-winning strike.
For Manhasset, Perfetto scored twice, Devin Kennedy, Michael Farrell, Chris Alcaraz and Marc Psyllos had one goal each, and goalie Grant Petracca collected 11 saves.
The first half was nip-and-tuck, as neither team led by more than a goal.
Kennedy netted the first goal for Manhassett just 54 seconds after the opening whistle, but Darien responded with the next two. Minicus tied it with an assist from McGovern at 4:10, and Ryan Darby took a feed from Minicus and scored to make it 2-1 at 5:14.
The Indians’ Farrell then tied the score with 2:11 remaining in the first frame.
The first eight minutes of the second quarter were scoreless, but Pfeifle broke the deadlock with a goal 3:27 before halftime.
Manhasset, however, responded with a goal from Alcaraz, and then took a 4-3 lead 12 seconds later when Psyllos won the ensuing faceoff, raced into the zone and beat Collins low. The Indians had a man advantage to end the half, but Collins and the defense held up to keep the deficit at one.
At halftime, the Wave talked about getting things back on track.
“We just said we’ve got to come out fired up,” Andrew Darby said. “We were not winning the battles, so we needed to start playing Darien style, and that’s what we did in the second half.”
Darien wasted little time scoring the equalizer, as McGovern made a terrific move inside and scored past Petracca 39 seconds into the third quarter.
Pokorny then put the Wave on top with a goal at 5:47, and Minicus netted his second goal for a 6-4 advantage at the 8:16 mark.
Perfetto gave Manhasset a big goal in the closing seconds of the third quarter, cutting the Darien lead to 6-5.
Throughout the fourth quarter, the two goals and both defenses came up big before a turn to the dramatic in the final minute.
Perfetto made a couple of dodges and dumped the ball high to tie the score at 6-6 with 59.6 seconds remaining.
On the next faceoff, Tanner Strub quickly came up with the ball, bolted upfield, and flipped it to a wide-open Minicus on the right. Minicus fired the ball low to the far corner of the net from about 12 yards out, putting the Wave back in front for good with 52.7 seconds remaining.
“We have a few guys who can do that,” Brameier said. “Brian’s going to get some of those and so is Logan. They’re our one-two punch, and Hudson’s been coming on. We’re just hoping to get a little bit more (scoring) out or our middies as we go through here. We got an early goal out of Darby which is nice.”
In the end, the Wave earned the victory, and overcame a huge test which will pay off as they move forward.
“These are challenges that get us ready for the next challenge and later in the year,” Brameier said. “This has a championship flavor to it. There was nervousness with “I don’t want to make a mistake” and you could see it in them. There was a little tightness some times and we’ve got to play through that.”
“We play every game like it’s a championship,” Andrew Darby said. “We take every game very seriously, and that keeps us focused. This was a really great game.”
Darien 7, Manhasset 6
Saturday, April 14, at DHS
Manhasset 2-2-1-1 6
Darien 2-1-3-1 7
Manhasset: Louis Perfetto 2g; Devin Kennedy 1g; Michael Farrell 1g; Chris Alcaraz 1g; Marc Psyllos 1g
Darien: Brian Minicus 3g, 1a; Logan McGovern 1g, 2a; Henri Pfeifle 1g, 1a; Ryan Darby 1g; Hudson Pokorny 1g; Tanner Strub 1a
M – Grant Petracca 11 saves
D – Sean Collins 8 saves