Boys lacrosse: Darien tops Ridgefield for 69th straight win
RIDGEFIELD — Darien’s shutdown defense was tested early and often in its FCIAC playoff dress rehearsal Saturday against Ridgefield, with the Tigers snatching a 5-4 lead after one quarter.
The final three were more up to the supremely high standards for the team ranked No. 4 in the latest Under Armor/Inside Lacrosse Top 25 poll.
The Blue Wave claimed their 69th straight win in an 11-6 decision over the Tigers at a rainy Tiger Hollow by outscoring the hosts 7-1 over the final three quarters. The non-league game was an opportunity for both teams to size up one another before next week’s playoffs.
Andrew Darby and Matt Gould spearheaded Darien’s (15-0) defense that yielded one goal over the final 36 minutes, denying space to Ridgefield’s talented scorers.
“I think our goalie (Sean Collins) was starting to see the ball better,” Darien coach Jeff Braemeir said. “(Ridgefield sniper Wes Carpenter) is a great shooter; Collins started making some saves, our defense started playing a little better. We are similar teams offensively.”
Collins made 10 saves for Darien.
“Coming out in a rainy day I guess we weren’t mentally prepared,” Collins said. “We picked up the talk; what Ridgefield does well is set picks and beat you on the backdoor slip. We defended that well in the last three quarters.”
Tigers coach Roy Colsey compared his squad to the Pittsburgh Steelers — a team with success in the past but has run into an even stronger juggernaut in the past few years in Darien — lacrosse’s New England Patriots.
The goal for Ridgefield (10-4) is to emulate Pennsylvania’s other NFL team (the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles) in 2018 and break the Blue Wave’s stranglehold over the sport.
“It takes a village to create a team that good,” Colsey said of Darien. “(Brameier) is a big part of it; Darien’s community and youth program and getting kids involved is huge. I think they do a great job; I’d be foolish not to want to emulate that and not to want to chase that.”
Colsey will have an extra card to play as all-American midfielder Greg Gatto — who has missed the entire season through injury — will return for the postseason.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Tanner Strub, Darien: In addition to controlling the faceoffs, Strub scored twice in fast-break situations to aid the Blue Wave attack.
Darien locked up the top seed in the FCIAC tournament — which starts next Saturday — with wins over Greenwich and New Canaan in the last two weeks. Ridgefield will likely be the No. 3 seed, avoiding a possible rematch with the Blue Wave until the final.
The Tigers reached the final in 2015 and 2017, falling to Darien both times.
“When he’s on, he’s on,” Brameier said of Strub. “Sometimes he’s making better decisions when they’re not sliding to him; he had a couple of great goals off great ball fakes. And a couple he just missed; he was the difference today for sure.”
DARIEN 11, RIDGEFIELD 6
DARIEN 4 3 4 0 — 11
RIDGEFIELD 5 0 1 0 — 6
Scoring: D—Hudson Pokorny 2g; Jack Joyce 3g; Blake Sommi 2g; Tanner Strub 2g; Jackson Peters 1g; Brian Minicus 1g Logan McGovern 1a. R—Wes Carpenter 3g; James Isaacson 1g; Ray Dearth 1g; Reid Kagan 1g. Goalies: D—Sean Collins (10 saves); R—Dan Parson (16 saves). Records: Darien 15-0, Ridgefield 10-4.