Darien edges Greenwich in overtime in boys lacrosse showdown
DARIEN — One of Darien’s rare losses last season came when FCIAC boys lacrosse rival Greenwich scored the tying goal with four seconds left in regulation, before tallying the game-winner in overtime.
When the teams met again Saturday, the undefeated Blue Wave received all they could handle against the Cardinals again, but this time, they had the final say in the much-anticipated matchup.
Senior attack Jack Kniffin scored a team-high five goals, including the game-winning goal midway through the four-minute overtime session, lifting two-time defending FCIAC champion Darien to a dramatic 13-12 victory over visiting Greenwich.
Rolling to the goal off a pick, Kniffin received a pass on the left side and snapped a quick shot past Cardinals goalie Bennett Cooper, giving Darien (15-0) the win and keeping its perfect record intact while extending Blue Wave’s unbeaten streak to 23 games.
“Coach drew up a good play at the end and we did a good job of getting our timing down,” Kniffin said. “We ran a pick for a lefty shot around the crease and I was able to tuck my shot in.”
Senior midfielder Jack Book recorded a hat trick, while junior attackman Kevin Lindley had one goal and seven assists to also pace the Blue Wave, who dropped a 12-11 overtime decision to GHS last spring.
“This group of guys wants to go undefeated, it’s one of our main goals,” Lindley said. “When we were trailing, the attack unit looked at each other and we nodded our heads. We knew what we had to do.”
The defeat was excruciating for Greenwich (8-6), which held advantages of 12-9 and 12-11, with just over one minute to go in regulation. Sophomore Matt Baugher had a hat trick, while senior midfielder Will Perry notched two goals and two assists for Greenwich.
“We executed the game plan that coach wanted us to, unfortunately, we didn’t come up with the win,” Perry said. “We led twice at the end, but we just slipped up. We are going to see these guys again, they’re one of the best teams in the country and we’re looking forward to seeing them again.”
The game marked first-year GHS coach Bobby Lutz’s first appearance against his former squad. Lutz served as one of Darien coach Jeff Brameier’s assistants for several seasons before taking over the Cardinals.
“He knows the game well and he knows what we do a lot,” Brameier said. “He had a good game plan, I tip my hat to him.”
Just 13 seconds later, senior Sean Doherty was the recipient of a Savio pass in transition, putting the visitors on top, 9-8. Perry sealed the 3-0 spurt, bouncing a shot by Blue Wave goalie Ryan Cornell at the 10:46 mark of the third quarter. Savio was outstanding, winning 22 of 27 faceoffs.
“Across the board, from goalie to defense to faceoff, we played very well,” Lutz said. “Bailey Savio had an unbelievable game. He controlled the tempo and almost won it himself.”
Said Savio: “At the beginning of the game I got dialed in. I trust my wing guys, they communicate well with me and they did good job of getting groundballs. It’s upsetting we couldn’t get the ‘W’, but we’ll be back.”
Down 12-9, Darien made it a two-goal game on Colin Minicus’ tally off a Lindley pass. The Blue Wave gained possession off a Cards’ turnover and Kniffin scored at the 6:38 mark, bringing the home team to within 12-11. With Darien running its settled offense against Greenwich’s zone, Kniffin tallied the equalizer with 1:02 left, converting Lindley’s feed from behind the net.
“We felt our offense could score, but getting the ball was a problem,” Brameier said. “Between faceoffs and the controlled offense they were running, we weren’t seeing the ball enough. But we converted on some crucial possessions at the end.”
A pair of goals from senior Scooter Harrington, the second of which at the 5:12 mark of the second stanza gave GHS a 4-2 lead. Darien responded with four consecutive goals, two of which game off Kniffin’s stick.
“This was one of two games this season where we were really pressed hard by our opponent,” Kniffin said. “It’s nice to show that we can overcome adversity and pull out a win against a great Greenwich team.”
Cooper made nine saves for Greenwich, which likes the position it’s in heading into the upcoming postseason.
“If you look at our record, it’s not glamorous,” Lutz said. “But we lost to Staples, double overtime, this game overtime — we’ve hung with tough teams. Hopefully, this gives the kids some confidence going into the postseason.”
Cornell registered 11 saves for Darien, which was paced defensively by senior Mark Evanchick.
“It’s been such a great season so far and we’ve played a lot of great teams,” Kniffin said. “We just want to keep it going.”
GREENWICH 12 (OT)
GREENWICH 4 3 4 1 0 — 12
DARIEN 4 4 1 3 1 — 13
Scoring: G — Matt Baugher 3 g; Will Perry 2 g 2 a; Michael Sands 2 g; Jack O’Connor 1 g; Scooter Harrington 2 g, 1 a; Cooper More 1 a; Sean Doherty 1 g; Bailey Savio 1 g, 2 a; D — Kevin Lindley 1 g, 7 a; Colin Minicus 1 g, 1 a; Jack Kniffin 5 g; Jack Book 3 g; Finlay Collins 1 g; Liam Rischmann 1 g; Jake Kirby 1 g, 1 a; Goalies: G — Bennett Cooper (9 saves); D — Ryan Cornell (11 saves).
Records: Darien 15-0; Greenwich 8-6.