DARIEN -- The undefeated Blue Wave had its way with visiting Fairfield Warde in the third quarter Tuesday in an FCIAC boys lacrosse game. But for the two quarters before that and the one that followed, it was hard to tell which team had the tradition of nine state championships and which team had yet to reach a state final.
In the end, fueled by four goals from Kyle Cornell and two goals and two assists by Jack Kniffen, Darien earned a 12-5 victory over the Mustangs. The win left the Blue Wave -- winners of 12 FCIAC championships -- 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the conference. Warde's loss, its third straight to a conference power, moved its records to 2-3 and 1-3.
The teams were tied 1-1 entering the second quarter and Darien brought a 4-2 lead into the second half. However, the Blue Wave scored four unanswered goals within a four-minute span for an 8-2 lead that essentially sealed the outcome.
The fourth quarter began with Darien up by 10-3 before the Mustangs cut the deficit to 10-5 with Blue Wave reserves responding with the game's last two goals.
Darien coach Jeff Brameier had to deliver a message to his players at halftime after Warde's defense had made things difficult for the Blue Wave attack in the first half.
"I told them flood gates have a tendency to open once you get a goal," Brameier said. "We got comfortable, and we started subbing (in the fourth quarter)."
And that's what happened in the third quarter. Darien forced a crack in the Warde defense then exploited it.
It was a flurry of scoring, on goals from Cornell 2:53 into the quarter, then from Tim Lochtefeld at 3:44, Cornell again at 4:39 and Peter Lindley at 6:53. Kyle Scheetz, who paced the Mustangs' offense with two goals and an assist, interrupted the Blue Wave spree on a goal at 8:59, making it 8-3. But Lindley got his second goal of the game 23 seconds after Scheetz's tally, renstating Darien's six-goal lead.
Brameier was impressed with Warde's defense and the goaltending of senior Jason Nerreau, who was strong in Darien's 11-3 victory at Warde last year.
"Our guys went at it and played a tough game," Mustangs' coach Tom Cunningham said. "The way our guys played was even closer than the score.
"Our offense possessed the ball a bit, and our defense did a good job back there. Jason Nerreau made some big stops for us early. He kept us in the game definitely," Cunningham said.
Nerreau made three incredible saves and two others that were nearly as good. Four of those five big-time saves came in the first half, though.
Cunningham did not view the contest as one between an established team and one that hopes to be there one day.
"I don't think we're a `have not,' anymore. I think we're getting to where we want to be."
Brameier offered no disagreement, saying he saw a hard-working and capable team when he watched Warde lose to Staples 9-1 on April 15. Two days later, the Mustangs pushed Ridgefield, a Class L semifinalist a year ago, in an 8-4 loss.
firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-255-4561 ext. 113; @ReidWalmark
Darien 12, Fairfield Warde 5
FAIRFIELD WARDE 1 1 1 2--5
DARIEN 1 3 6 2--12
Records: Fairfield Warde 2-3, 1-3 FCIAC; Darien 5-0, 3-0 FCIAC: Scoring: FW--Kyle Scheetz 2 goals, 1 assist, Kevin Robinson (1g), Brian Kerrigan (1g), Brendan King (1g), Gareth Gacetta (1a); D--Kyle Cornell 4 goals, Jack Kniffen (2g, 2a), Peter Lindley (2g), Harry Gillespie (1g), Tim Lochtefeld (1g), Jack Book (1g), John Sommi (1g), Colin Minicus (1a), Matt Vossler (1a), Aidan Brannigan (1a). Goalies: FW--Jason Nerreau (12 saves), D--Phil Huffard (5). Shots: FW--16; D--32.