Darien edges rival New Canaan for 76th straight win, spot in Class L final
FAIRFIELD — You don’t win 76 games in a row without a few close calls.
So, what’s the secret to pulling off those nail-biters? In Darien coach Jeff Brameier’s opinion, it’s the seniors.
It took all of them Wednesday, as top-seeded and top-ranked Darien was just able to hold off arch-rival New Canaan 8-7 in the Class L semifinals at Fairfield University. It was the Blue Wave’s second-straight one-goal contest in these playoffs.
“It’s the senior leadership, you saw who made the plays” Brameier said. “It’s a testament to the whole team, but you could see that those guys wanted to be on the field, they stepped up.”
Darien will look for its fourth-straight Class L title, and fifth overall, against the winner of No. 6 Ridgefield and No. 7 Glastonbury on Saturday.
“They know what’s at stake and they’ve known that all year long,” Brameier said of avoiding an emotional letdown following the game against fourth-seeded New Canaan. “They’ve had to weather the storm of all comers, they’re not going to not be ready.”
That storm started early Wednesday, as New Canaan’s Quintin O’Connell scored just over a minute in. But three-straight goals from three different players had Darien looking good in the first, until a diving put-back by O’Connell with 3.6 seconds left made it 3-2 after one.
Jack Joyce made it a two-goal game again with a goal in transition, but New Canaan’s Liam Griffiths scored late in the second to bring the halftime score to 4-3 in favor in of the Wave.
The Rams scored the first two goals in the third behind Will Rechtermann and Griffiths, grabbing a 5-4 lead midway through the quarter.
“I’ve never been in a lacrosse game where you dominate the other team and lose,” New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said. “They got one more goal than us, that’s the only thing they did better than us today. We outplayed them, we did everything we could do, we just couldn’t put the ball in the net more than they did.”
After falling behind, Darien — No. 1 in the GameTimeCT poll and No. 2 in the Under Armour / Inside Lacrosse Top 25 High School Power Rankings — got a goal from Hudson Pokorny and two from Brian Minicus sandwiched around a Teddy Manges strike for New Canaan to make it 7-6 Darien early in the fourth.
Midway through the quarter, O’Connell tied it for the Rams, but with 2:31 left Darien got out in transition again and Logan McGovern, who couldn’t convert a similar chance earlier in the game, notched the game winner.
“I remember what I did (the first time), I shot low,” said McGovern, who finished with two goals and two assists. “The goalie was dipping all day so I just looked low and finished short-side high off-stick. I’m just really happy it went in.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Collins, Darien. The senior goalie started the season as an unknown after sitting behind former All-American Ryan Cornell, but everyone knows him now. Collins made 14 saves in the contest, none bigger than with a minute left in regulation denying New Canaan’s Christopher Canet on turn-around jump shot.
“My mind was pretty clear,” Collins said of the save. “I wasn’t really thinking about anything, I was seeing the ball well so I kind of just had to trust myself and not worry whether I was going to make the save or not.”
New Canaan’s Nick Crovatto was dominant at the faceoff X, as he has been all year, and Buzzeo couldn’t have spoken higher of the senior.
“Nick Crovatto is the best player in the whole state, period,” Buzzeo said. “He’s not just a FOGO, he’s the best player in the state of Connecticut.”
“I’m really proud of how we played and our effort,” Buzzeo said. “For a team that no one gave any respect to in the beginning of the year, I think people realize that we are just as good as Darien. We got a lot of guys coming back and hopefully they learn from this experience.”’
DARIEN 8, NEW CANAAN 7
NEW CANAAN 2 1 2 2—7
DARIEN 3 1 2 2—8
Scoring: NC—Quintin O’Connell 3 goals 1 assist, Liam Griffiths 2g, Will Rechtermann 1g, Teddy Manges 1g 1a, Drew Guida 1a, Nick Crovatto 1a; D—Hudson Pokorny 2g 1a, Ryan Darby 1g, Logan McGovern 2g 2a, Jack Joyce 1g, Brian Minicus 2g, Blake Sommi 1a. Goalies: NC—Carl Mazabras (6 saves); D—Sean Collins (14). Shots: NC—37; D—23.