Ready to roll: Darien boys lacrosse heads into postseason at No. 1
The opening act to the 2018 Darien High School boys lacrosse season is over.
Now it’s time for the main event.
The Blue Wave put the finishing touches on another perfect regular season with a win over Trinity Catholic last Tuesday on Senior Day at the DHS field to raise its record to 16-0 and stretch its winning streak to 70 in a row.
But head coach Jeff Brameier and his players have only three days to admire their body of work as the postseason gets underway. Darien is the No. 1 seed in the FCIAC tournament and will host the Ludlowe Falcons in the quarterfinals at 4 p.m., Monday.
The conference semifinals and championship game will be played on Wednesday and Friday at neutral Brien McMahon High School. Meanwhile, the Class L state tournament opens the following week, two days after Memorial Day.
And when you’ve won four straight FCIAC titles and 16 overall, along with four state crowns in a row and 13 total, you understand why we’re about to enter the part of the season the Darien High boys lacrosse program waits all year for.
Not that the regular season is meaningless. No, it, too, carries a lot of significance in Blue Wave country.
“No question,” Brameier agreed. “We try to challenge them with big games during the season. You look at our four out-of-state games. We beat Yorktown (N.Y.), we beat Torrey Pines (Calif.), we beat Manhassett (N.Y.), and we beat St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) Those games hopefully give our players a flavor of what to expect with the playoffs coming up.
“Then there are the league games we’ve played against tough teams like New Canaan, Ridgefield, Wilton, Greenwich and St. Joe’s. We played almost all the tough teams. The only one we didn’t play was Staples.”
But Brameier is also quick to agree that the postseason is what all his teams point to. The 2018 Darien team is certainly no exception.
“Obviously, they know there’s the streak to defend and a tradition to defend,” the only coach the Blue Wave boys lacrosse program has ever had said. “We’ve won four FCIAC championships in a row and four state championships in a row. They don’t want to be the team to let the streak fall.”
Prior to Tuesday’s game against winless Trinity Catholic, the Blue Wave faced one last regular-season test over the weekend as they came from behind to beat Ridgefield 11-6 in a rematch of last year’s FCIAC final.
“Ridgefield is always one of the top four teams in the FCIAC and state,” Brameier noted. “They were the No. 1 team in the (FCIAC) West and we were No. 1 in the East so it was a battle of the top two teams, kind of a regular-season prelude to what’s coming up.”
The Tigers came into Saturday’s game with a 10-3 record, including a 9-1 FCIAC mark, the only blemish being an overtime loss to Staples. Against visiting Darien, they came out of the gate on fire, racing out to a 5-4 lead after one quarter.
“Ridgefield has some nice scorers and they did some nice things,” Brameier said. “Their goalie, Dan Parsons (16 saves), was hot and made a lot of saves.”
But Darien made some adjustments in between periods that turned the game completely around. The Blue Wave outscored the Tigers 3-0 in second quarter to take a 7-5 halftime lead, and then used a 4-1 surge in the third stanza to pull away.
“Our faceoff guy, Tanner Strub, was crucial,” Brameier pointed out. “He dominated faceoffs, winning 15 of 20, and we took advantage of having more possessions. He also scored two goals.”
Meanwhile, Jack Joyce found the back of the net three times, Hudson Pokorny and Blake Sommi also tallied two goals, and Jackson Peters and Brian Minicus had one apiece. Assists by Logan McGovern, Tyler Strub and Henri Pfeifle rounded out the scoring.
“It was a good mix with a lot of different guys scoring,” Brameier said.
Not to be outdone, the DHS defense also shined, especially the final three quarters when it allowed only one goal.
“Our goalie, Sean Collins (10 saves), made a lot of key saves,” Brameier said. “He’s a first-year senior starter and he’s had a great year.
“And our senior defenders, Andrew Darby, Matt Gould, Tyler Strub and Charlie Olson, all played great. We did not let Ridgefield get free for shots like they did in the first quarter.”
It’s exactly the type of lacrosse the Blue Wave will need to play the rest of the season starting Saturday.
“They know there’s a big bullseye on their chest, but that comes with the territory,” Brameier concluded. “We get everybody’s best shot. We saw that the last two weekends. Last Saturday we trailed Greenwich 6-2 at halftime and came back and won (13-6), and this past Saturday Ridgefield led 5-4 and we went on a 7-1 run.
“So we’re capable of rising to the occasion. But we also know there’s good competition out there and we can’t rest on our laurels. We have to be ready.”