Darien boys lacrosse caps perfect season with title win over New Canaan
NORWALK -- For all the superlatives that have been aptly used to describe the Darien boys lacrosse team this spring-- deep, talented, explosive and well-coached-- there is now only one that can define the Blue Wave.
Following a 10-8 victory over rival New Canaan in the Class M championship Saturday, Darien placed itself among the all-time great teams by registering an undefeated season at 23-0. Seven different Blue Wave players scored in the title game, including Ian Burgoyne and Jack Kniffin, who combined for five goals. Rams attack Michael Kraus notched the game's lone hat trick via a fourth-quarter score that helped spur a late comeback, which fell short.
With the win, Darien topped New Canaan (17-5) for the third time in as many meetings this season and clinched the tenth state title in program history.
"It's the best feeling of my life," Burgoyne said. "To be a part of a program that's this rich in history and talent and players is something special. We'll remember this for a long time."
Blue Wave goalie and captain Phil Huffard tallied 10 saves on the day, his last a remarkable effort to stop Rams sophomore Justin Meichner from cutting Darien's lead to one. Ahead 9-7 with under 90 seconds left, Meichner swiftly curled around the left post to deposit a score upstairs, when Huffard snared the ball and made a distant clear that rescued the game.
"It's unbelievable. Words literally can't describe it," Huffard said of the championship victory. "I was just so happy for our entire senior class ... We really wanted this one just to share with our entire school and our entire town. It really means a lot to all of us."
After suffering a pair of crushing overtime losses to the Blue Wave, the Rams labored for two weeks over new schemes aimed at taking down Darien and a title. So when captain Teddy Bossidy scored 62 seconds into Saturday's championship, it appeared their plans had come to life quite well. However, the Blue Wave's own prepared set of tactics then proceeded to hold New Canaan to only two more goals through late in the third quarter.
Simultaneously, the Darien offense posted a 4-2 halftime edge, largely thanks to a pair of early scores from Burgoyne, who tied the game with a pretty wrap-around.
"On that first dodge, they were giving me my left since I beat them right in the last two games. And that's something I've been working on in my backyard and after practice," Burgoyne said. "I've been working on my lefty shots and I just stuck it."
Kniffin and senior John Reed also collected goals prior to intermission, as the Wave's leading scorer, Peter Lindley, watched his best scoring chance get disallowed. Lindley finished with two assists.
Next, Rams senior Harry Stanton opened the second half by converting a Darien turnover into a goal, which cut the margin to one. The Blue Wave then responded with four scores in the third quarter, two unassisted and one shorthanded, that nearly ran New Canaan off the field.
"The second and third quarter, they were perfect. And to be honest, they were perfect all day," Rams coach Chip Buzzeo said. "It's fitting that they played the way they did to go undefeated."
Kraus stopped the bleeding at the three-minute mark of the period, eventually giving way to an 8-4 Darien lead after three quarter. Taking a feed from fellow sophomore Kyle Smith early in the fourth, Meichner scored to bring New Canaan within striking distance. But a pair of late Kniffin goals, Huffard's work between the pipes and the beckon of perfection proved to simply be too much for the Rams to ultimately overcome.
"This team's definitely right there in the history books," Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. "We'll let the bloggers and the pollsters figure it out, but in my history book, they're going on top."
Darien 10, New Canaan 8
NEW CANAAN 1 1 2 4--8
DARIEN 3 1 4 2--10
Records: Darien 23-0, New Canaan 17-5. Scoring: NC-- Michael Kraus 3 goals, Harry Stanton 2g, Justin Meichner 2g, Teddy Bossidy 1g, Kyle Smith 1 assist, Seth Neeleman 1a, Cole Turpin 1a; D-- Ian Burgoyne 2g, 2a, Jack Kniffin 2g, Colin Minicus 1g, 1a, Harry Gillespie 1g, 1a, Peter Lindley 2a, Kyle Cornell 1g, John Reed 1g, Andrew Pugliese 1g. Goalies: NC--Trent Nader (8 saves); D--Phil Huffard (10).