Darien boys lacrosse puts 56-game win streak on line vs. Torrey Pines tonight
The Darien boys lacrosse team carries an eye-popping résumé into the season: Four consecutive state and FCIAC championships, a winning streak that just hit 56, and that little matter of the 2017 National Championship.
As head coach Jeff Brameier put it: “We’re used to having a bull’s-eye on our back, but that’s the fun part.”
The Blue Wave definitely wouldn’t have it any other way.
Darien is continuing its tradition of playing some of the best teams in the region, and the country for that matter, with two huge games in the first week of the spring season.
Playing at Yorktown on Saturday night, the Blue Wave used a 6-0 third-quarter run to take control of the game and then held off a late charge by the Huskers to score a 13-11 victory in the season-opener.
The Wave, which faced FCIAC opponent Westhill yesterday, Wednesday, will now take on the Torrey Pines Falcons, a San Diego team that is making an East Coast trip this weekend.
The Falcons will play the Wave at 6:30 p.m. Friday, and the game will be carried live by the HAN Network. It can be seen at HAN.Network, darientimes.com, and fciac.net, as well as on Frontier Communications’ Vantage Sports Network on Channels 600/1600.
Torrey Pines is ahead of Darien in terms of games played, as it comes in with an 8-0 record, while the Wave is 2-0. Both teams are ranked in the top 25 of two national rankings. The Nike/US Lacrosse National Top 25 has Darien at No. 2 and Torrey Pines at No. 23, while the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse Top 25 Power Rankings has Torrey Pines at No. 17 and Darien at No. 18.
Either way, the game shapes up as an intriguing showdown between national powers, and will also be the first boys lacrosse contest under the lights at DHS.
“I’m really excited,” senior co-captain Blake Sommi said during the HAN Network’s preseason tour. “The first lacrosse game under the lights at home in Darien High School’s history, so it should be quite the night.”
“It’s fun,” senior co-captain Andrew Darby said of the Wave’s schedule. “We get to meet guys from different parts of the country and it’s a pretty awesome experience to have in high school.”
The Wave wasted no time jumping into the fire as it took on Westchester County power Yorktown in what has become a season-opening tradition and rivalry for the two teams.
The 13-11 victory extended a couple of streaks for the Wave, which has now won 56 consecutive games overall and has beaten Yorktown in five straight meetings. The Blue Wave won by relatively wide margins the past three seasons — 15-4 last year, 12-3 in 2016, and 15-3 in 2015. Darien also won 8-5 in 2014, and Yorktown’s last win in the series was an 11-5 decision in 2013.
The loss on Saturday was Yorktown’s first of the season, as it fell to 3-1.
Facing teams like the Huskers is what makes the season pay off for the Wave players.
“It’s just a week-by-week grind,” senior co-captain Logan McGovern told the HAN Network. “Every Saturday we have a big game and we’ve just got to take it one step at a time. We can’t win a national championship all in one week; we’ve got to do it one step at a time, and that’s what we’re focused on.”
The Blue Wave received big offensive performances from senior co-captain Brian Minicus, McGovern and Jack Joyce, who combined for 11 goals and 18 points. Minicus led the attack with six goals and four assists; McGovern had three goals and one assist; and Joyce had two goals and two assists.
Hudson Pokorny dished out two assists, and Henri Pfeifle and Tommy Hellman each scored once.
Tanner Strub delivered a strong faceoff effort, winning 19 of 28.
The Darien defense’s new version of the “Tidal Wave” played well, with a great performance from long poles Darby, Matt Gould, Tyler Strub, Connor Olson and Sam Cragin, and new goalie Sean Collins, who made 11 saves. Collins has taken over the position following the graduation of Ryan Cornell, who is now with the University of Vermont.
The Blue Wave never trailed Yorktown, as Darien built a 3-1 lead after one quarter and led 6-3 in the second quarter. The Huskers rallied to make it 6-5 at halftime and then tied the score early in the third quarter, but the Wave was undaunted and netted the next six goals for a 12-6 lead after three.
The advantage was 13-7 in the fourth quarter when Yorktown scored four straight goals to close the gap to 13-11 with under two minutes remaining. Darien kept it there, however, and the Wave came away with the victory.
With that solid win in the books, and some big battles on the way, Darien is on its way as it tries to defend FCIAC, state and now national titles.
“2017 definitely meant a lot to everyone in the program who’s been a part of it for the entire existence,” McGovern said. “It was definitely a goal of everyone — the national championship. We worked really hard, and just to see that come to fruition was great for the guys, great for the seniors, and great for everyone on the team.”
“It’s reload every year,” Sommi said. “We’ve got a lot of depth, and we’ve got some good juniors and sophomores who should be stepping up to the plate this year and fill in some of those spots.”
“We have a great work ethic this year,” Darby said. “Everybody’s been going really hard in practice, taking it very seriously, and studying film. It’s been a great first few weeks so far.”