STAMFORD -- The Darien boys lacrosse team stuck with its familiar early-season formula to remain perfect on the season: Play tough defense, capitalize on mistakes and excel in the second half.
Squaring off against No. 14 Manhasset, NY at the neutral site of Stamford High School's Boyle Stadium, No. 20 Darien scored a 10-7 victory to claim its seventh win in as many games to begin the campaign.
"We play Manhasset every year and we have a lot of respect for them. Our seniors hadn't won a game against them, so it was great to come out on top today," Darien's Bobby Weaver said. "The defense was fantastic. Phil (Huffard) did an awesome job stopping shots in close, Tony Britton lead the defense and everybody contributed."
In a frenetic finish, Weaver pulled his team even one minute into the fourth quarter, scoring on a wraparound goal to knot the contest at 7-7. Forty-three seconds later, Weaver found teammate Tim Murphy for a goal which gave Darien its first advantage of the contest at 8-7, a lead that the Blue Wave would not relinquish.
"It was a great game by both teams. When you have two teams like this, if you make a mistake they capitalize. We made a few more than they did and that's the way it ends up," Manhasset coach Bill Cherry said. "We had opportunities to put the ball in the net to keep the lead and we didn't and a lot of those turned into transition goals. Their goalie was outstanding. We had some quality shots at the doorstep and we couldn't put it by him."
Manhasset's Bobby Duvnjak opened the scoring with a goal just past the two minute mark in the first quarter. Just over a minute later, Darien countered when Case Matheis sent a pass from behind the Manhasset net to Weaver, whose shot eluded Manhasset goalie Evan Molloy.
In the second quarter, Matheis scored again after receiving a pass from Tim Murphy. Thirty-eight seconds later, the game was tied at 3-3 when Henry West scored. Manhasset went back on top on a goal by Dino Lavalle, Darien pulled even on a goal by Matheis and Manhasset took a 5-4 halftime lead on another tally by Lavalle.
The beginning of the third quarter was a bit of a stalemate, with neither team's defense allowing a quality scoring opportunity. With 7:23 remaining, however, Manhasset broke through on a goal by Lavalle. Darien countered less than a minute later on a goal by Matheis, but Manhasset took a 7-5 lead 14 seconds later on a goal by Sean Grimm.
With 1:57 remaining in the quarter, Weaver again pulled his team to within one by scoring a wraparound goal to cut the Darien's deficit to 7-6.
After claiming the lead, Darien padded its advantage when Matheis again found Weaver to put the Blue Wave up 9-7. With his team protecting a two-goal lead, Darien goalie Phil Huffard robbed Manhasset's Quinn Moroney from pulling his team to within one. Huffard made nine saves on the night, while Molloy also came up with nine.
"It was a good team effort. In the fourth quarter we knew we were going to have to come up with some defensive stops and get the ball back to our offense, and we did that," Huffard said. "This is probably my best win so far; this is as good as it gets."
With 2:47 remaining, Darien sealed the deal as Matheis dished out his third assist, this time to Kevin Seiler, whose goal closed out the scoring and essentially clinched the game.
"We're taking it game by game," Weaver said. "We were in a tough stretch here, so we're happy to get through it and we're going to bear down and focus on St. Joseph on Saturday."
Since the win over Mahasset, Darien picked up a 17-3 win over St. Joseph but suffered its first loss of the season on the road against Yorktown, NY, an 11-9 loss on Tuesday.