Darien laxmen get preseason tune-up with unfamiliar foe
Published 2:20 pm, Thursday, March 31, 2011
NEW HAVEN -- Ranked among the best in the country, typical preseason practices aren't enough to prepare the Darien High School boys' lacrosse team for a grueling season schedule against tough FCIAC opponents and some stellar out-of-state competition. So the Blue Wave went to Yale University in New Haven to meet upstate private school powerhouse Salisbury in a scrimmage on Wednesday night. Both in the top-10 in national rankings, the teams played four quarters of fast-paced, hard-hitting lacrosse in a battle that really didn't mean anything in terms of winners and losers -- but plenty as far as preparation is concerned.
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"We're not really concerned with wins or losses when we're scrimmaging. It's more about trying out our new defenses, trying out our new offenses -- preparing for the season," Darien captain and middie J.P. Walsh said. "This is a great way to see true game speed and see how we're going to react to the things we'll see this season."
The Wave will face perennial state title contenders from within the conference, including Greenwich, New Canaan and Wilton, along with Yorktown and Manhasset of New York.
Salisbury jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and went ahead 7-3. Darien fell 9-7, despite several late-game chances that were turned aside and shots that clanked off the posts. As Walsh pointed out, however, a win or loss is not important in a preseason scrimmage.
"They're always a quality program," Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. "You learn what you've got to do -- you pay for your mistakes. I think we recovered from our early lapses on defense."
"I think we played well all around," Walsh said. "A big thing we have to work on is coming out really strong, and taking it to them right away."
Brameier points out that he doesn't expect his team to be on its `A' game right from the get-go. The team still has its second jamboree of the spring and its fourth scrimmage on Saturday against Cheshire before the regular season begins.
"This time of year we're still making some of the team mistakes you're going to make -- particularly on help defense and clearing the ball," said Brameier, noting that he would like to see the players cut down on turnovers. "I think we got better as the game went on."
Darien had plenty of bright spots with Case Matheis, among others, controlling the ball behind the net and setting up scoring plays by finding cutting teammates. Brameier liked what he saw out of his offense's efforts, but wants to see the players finish more chances, something he expects will happen in the regular season. The coach was pleased with the goaltending, led by starter Dylan Torey, and also with the effort on the defensive end of the field.
"I think there was a lot of good, aggressive play on defense, and getting after it," Brameier said.
After the preseason winds down this week, the Wave will play their first game of the regular season on Wednesday at home against St. Joseph at 4 p.m.