NORWALK -- For the second consecutive season, the Darien and Wilton boys lacrosse teams met in the second round of the Class M state tournament, albeit with polar opposite results. This time it was Darien emerging with a blowout victory, bumping Wilton from the tournament with a 13-4 win behind a dominant second half at Brien McMahon High School.
Top-seeded Darien is slated to play archrival and No. 3-seeded New Canaan for the state crown on Saturday at Brien McMahon High School at a time to be announced.
"In the first half we gave up two garbage goals after they got ground balls, so we called timeout. After that timeout, we knew we had to collect everything in front of the net because that's how they were getting most of their opportunities," said Darien goalie Phil Huffard, who made eight saves and nearly recorded a second half shutout. "Darien-New Canaan is a great rivalry and we wouldn't want to see anybody else there. To be state champions would be sweet, and to beat our rival would be even sweeter."
With the teams knotted at 3-3 late in the first half, Darien's Henry West helped his team seize control of the game by scoring three consecutive goals in the final 1:17 of the second quarter, giving the Blue Wave a 6-3 advantage heading into the break.
"We talked about it before the game, playing in two-minute segments and not getting too high or too low," West said. "We were able to weather their storm and hit our stride in the middle of the game. We were able to stick a lot of shots."
After winning the Class M state championship last season, No. 5-seeded Wilton was bumped from both the FCIAC and state tournaments in the semifinal rounds in 2012, but coach John Wiseman was still proud of what his players were able to accomplish.
"In the end, you're a competitor and you always want to win. But when you sit back and you reflect, you've certainly got to be proud of the kids when you look at the season as a whole," Wiseman said. "The kids played hard. I think that for what people thought Wilton was going to have, we overachieved. I always knew that we had a good team, but I'm pleased and I'm proud of the kids."
After its late surge at the end of the first half, Darien continued to pour it on in the third quarter. West assisted Peter Lindley on for his third goal of the game, Case Matheis scored on a wraparound and West scored his fourth and final goal to give Darien a 9-3 cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
Any hopes of a Wilton rally were dashed by Darien's Kevin Seiler who scored consecutive three goals to up Darien's lead to 12-3 with 6:12 remaining. Darien's Corey Eppley scored to cap off Darien's 11-0 run, and Nugent scored his third goal with 35 seconds remaining to close out the scoring.
In the first quarter, it looked like it could be another down-to-the-wire clash between Darien and Wilton. Darien's Tony Britton found Lindley to open the scoring with 7:21 remaining in the opening quarter, but Wilton's Sean Carroll and Chris Nugent scored the final two goals to give the Warriors a 2-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Darien's Tim Murphy drew his team even with 8:27 left in the second quarter, and Wilton took its final lead of the game when Matt Kobyra found Nugent to make the score 3-2. Darien tied the game at 3-3 after Lindley scored off of a pass from Peter Gesualdi, setting the stage for West's three straight goals to end the half.
DARIEN 13, WILTON 4
WILTON 2 1 0 1--4
DARIEN 1 5 3 4--13
Records: Wilton 14-4, Darien 18-1.
Scoring: W--Chris Nugent (3g), Sean Carroll (1g), Cole Rance (1a), Matt Kobyra (1a). D--Henry West (4g, 1a), Peter Lindley (3g), Kevin Seiler (3g), Tim Murphy (1g), Case Matheis (1g), Corey Eppley (1g), Tony Britton (1a), Peter Gesualdi (1a). Goalies: W--Conor Johnson (14 saves); D--Phil Huffard (8). Shots: W--22; D--30.