Minicus, Darien romp over Greenwich in Class L boys lacrosse quarters

DARIEN — Matt Minicus and his senior teammates on the Darien boys lacrosse team haven’t forgotten the pain of losing to Fairfield Prep in last year’s Class L quarterfinals.

In fact, it’s been a point of emphasis in the current postseason.

“We lost in the quarters last year and that stung with all the then-juniors, now-seniors,” Minicus said. “We definitely have talked about that and we’ve made it a goal to go all the way.”

The Blue Wave took another step towards their ultimate goal with a resounding 16-4 victory over Greenwich in the Class L quarterfinals Saturday in Darien.

The Cardinals had a 1-0 lead after a sluggish first quarter, but the Wave blew it open by scoring 10 of the next 11 goals, eventually sending the game to running time in the fourth quarter.

No. 1 Darien (19-2) will now face No. 5 Fairfield Prep (13-4) in the semifinals on Wednesday, at a site and time to be determined. Prep handled New Milford 22-5 in its quarterfinal game.

Boys lacrosse became a CIAC sport in 1995 and since that time, Darien has reached the semifinal round in 25 of 27 years, missing only in 2013 and 2021.

While there were similarities to last year’s quarterfinals — Darien had SATs and a junior prom on Saturday night as distractions — having played Greenwich twice was a help, according to coach Jeff Brameier.

“Fortunately we played these guys close twice so there was no underestimating Greenwich,” Brameier said. “We knew we had to come and play and that’s what we focused on as best we could.”

It also helps when you have a player who can read defenses like a book like Minicus, who scored three goals and dished out eight assists.

Brady Pokorny was on the receiving end of several of those assists and scored a game-high six goals, with Joe Cesare netting a hat trick.

“I took advantage of (Minicus), got everybody else out of the way and let him just read the five guys and where they were going in our different sets,” Brameier said. “He found the open guys and they started hitting shots.”

Eighth-seeded Greenwich (13-7) had a tough time getting started, in large part due to the absence of starting faceoff man Quinn Warwick, who broke his thumb in a first-round victory over Amity on Wednesday.

That gave Darien faceoff specialist Tighe Cummiskey a huge advantage and the Wave dominated possession time.

“They really took advantage in the second quarter and put some goals on the board,” Greenwich coach Bobby Lutz said. “It was kind of hard for us to get back in a rhythm if you can’t win faceoffs and get possessions. Unfortunately Quinn couldn’t grip the stick or shoot the ball. He’s one of the better middies in the state and he was out of the equation.”

The Cardinals had two goals and two assists from senior Bryce Metalios, and goalie Charlie Zola, also a senior, made 11 saves in his final game.

“Take it for what it is,” Lutz said. “If we stay healthy, you never know what will happen. You can’t take away the fun they had, the camaraderie and the bonds that they have. You can tell from their emotions right now that they just love playing together.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Matt Minicus, Darien: This choice is a no-brainer. Minicus had 11 points with three goals and eight assists, and once he and the attack got going, there was no stopping the Blue Wave.

QUOTABLE

“We practice those plays all the time and I’m very happy that it worked the whole time today. There are still great teams out there and we’re just excited to play them. We’re not ending early this year.” — Darien senior Matt Minicus.

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports

No. 1 DARIEN 16, No. 8 GREENWICH 4

GREENWICH 1 1 1 1 — 4

DARIEN 0 7 6 3 — 16

Scoring: Greenwich: Bryce Metalios 2g, 2a; Flynn Milledge 1g, 1a; Nate Duffy 1g; Darien: Matt Minicus 3g, 8a; Brady Pokorny 6g; Joe Cesare 3g, 1a; Finn Pokorny 2g, 1a; Riley Strub 1g; Kevin Roche 1g.

Goalies: G - Charlie Zola 11 saves; D - Cam Weibel 11 saves, Carter Hagan 2 saves.

Records: Greenwich 13-7; Darien 19-2.