Boys Lacrosse: Darien tops Staples to set up rematch with Wilton in Class L final

Staples’ Jack Dorsey defends as Darien’s Michael Minicus fires a shot on Staples goalie Tim Luciano (91) in a CIAC boys lacrosse Class L state tournament semifinal game at Brien McMahon High School on Wednesday night. — Matthew Brown/Hearst Connecticut Media

NORWALK – Two weeks ago, the Darien Blue Wave was unexpectedly knocked out of the FCIAC boys lacrosse tournament by a Wilton Warriors team which has gotten hot at the right time of the year.

Now, the Wave will have a chance to get even.

Darien overcame an early challenge from the Staples Wreckers and rolled to a 9-6 victory in the CIAC Class L semifinals Wednesday night at Brien McMahon’s Jack Casagrande Field. The Blue Wave scored eight unanswered goals at one point and led 9-3 before Staples closed the gap in the closing minutes.

While fifth-seeded Darien was earning it’s bid to the final, No. 19 Wilton was defeating Fairfield Prep, 7-6, at Fairfield University’s Rafferty Stadium, setting up the rematch.

Darien (16-5) and Wilton (13-9) will square off for the state championship at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, at Brien McMahon.

“They’ve been on a roll and they beat a great team in Prep,” Darien head coach Jeff Brameier said. “You hope that you get a championship that’s got two of the best teams in the state playing against each other. They beat us last time, so if there is such a thing as a revenge factor, our guys certainly should have it, and Wilton wants to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

“It’s a good marquee game with two good programs battling.”

Darien will be appearing in its sixth consecutive state final, and has been in the championship game in 13 of the last 15 years. The Wave has won 11 titles during that span, with the only loss coming to Ridgefield last year.

Wilton is making its first appearance in a Class L final, and last won a state championship in 2013, when it beat Joel Barlow in the Class M final.

The Blue Wave wanted a shot at Wilton again.

“We’re so excited,” Darien’s Hudson Pokorny said. “They’re an awesome defense and good offense, so we want to see them again.”

For No. 8 Staples, the loss meant the end of a terrific season in which the Wreckers went 13-6 overall and reached the state semifinals for the first time since 2014.

“It’s heartbreaking and the biggest thing for me is I’m bummed for the seniors,” Staples head coach Will Koshansky said. “I’ve been around a lot of kids as a coach and these kids are special. This is the most fun season I’ve ever had as a coach and it’s due to our guys. Those 20 seniors accomplished our goal which was to make the program and leave it in a better place that it was when they got there and 100% they did.”

The Wreckers came out of the gate strong and had the early advantage.

After Pokorny started the scoring 26 seconds after the opening faceoff, Staples’ TJ Lynch tied it, and long pole Donald Macaluso made it 2-1 for the Wreckers with a transition goal in the final minute of the first quarter.

Max Eigen scored to open the second frame, giving Staples a 3-1 advantage. Wreckers’ goalie Tim Luciano was on his game and finished with 12 saves for the night.

“We were getting our looks on offense, they just weren’t sticking and their goalie got hot to start,” Pokorny said. “Coach B told us to keep shooting, eventually they’ll go in, and he was right.”

Michael Minicus ended Staples’ run with a goal at the 3:18 mark, and Pokorny then tied it at 5:35.

Jackson Peters and Minicus scored less than a minute apart for a 5-3 Darien lead and the Wave hammered home another goal when Sam Wilson blazed upfield and dished off to Pokorny with 5.2 seconds on the clock.

“We were playing sloppy D, I started off a little bit slow, too, but once we got in a rhythm we were able to go,” Darien goalie Andy Demopoulos said of the turnaround. “We were able to go hard on offense, hard on defense and we got the momentum.”

“Early in the game we were winning faceoffs and when we got the ball on offense we were moving it really quickly,” Koshansky said of the Wreckers. “We were getting easier looks because of that movement, and then in the second and third quarters, we got away from that and we were holding the ball individually a little bit too long.”

Darien scored the only two goals of the third quarter and added another tally in the fourth for a 9-3 lead.

While they were scoring eight straight goals, the Wave was delivering shutdown defense, led by Demopoulos (9 saves) and long poles Tyler Strub, Pierce Hoyda, Sam Cragin, and Connor Olson.

Staples ended a 28-minute scoring drought when Eigen scored with 4:29 to play.

The Wreckers scored two more times in the final two minutes, but the Wave had more than enough to get the win.

“We got our composure,” Brameier said. “They had a game against Wilton which was uncharacteristic and they started to doubt themselves. This team, once it rolls, can put up pretty big numbers in a short period of time. We got on a roll in the second quarter and made a couples of great goals. We had a three-goal separation and we got it up to nine at one point. We did fine against a very good defensive team.”

With Wilton and a possible state championship on the horizon, Darien is ready for one more battle.

“I’m excited to get revenge,” Demopoulos said. “We played really well tonight, so I think if we play with the same mentality and the same energy, we can come out and beat them.”

QUOTABLE

“This is awesome to be able to go (to the state final) all four years. I feel fortunate to be on such a great team.” — Darien senior Hudson Pokorny

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com

@dstewartsports

DARIEN 9, STAPLES 6

Staples 2 1 0 3 – 6

Darien 1 5 2 1 – 9

Scoring: Staples: Derek Sale 2g; Max Eigen 2g; Donald Macaluso 1g; TJ Lynch 1g; Kevin Lynch 1a; Darien: Hudson Pokorny 3g, 1a; Michael Minicus 2g; Jackson Peters 2g; Henri Pfeifle 1g, 1a; Tommy Hellman 1g; Sam Wilson 1a; Goalies: S – Tim Luciano 12 saves; D – Andy Demopoulos 9 saves; Records: Staples 13-6; Darien 16-5