Andrew West and the Blue Wave will use defense to try and take back the FCIAC title

Armed with five straight state crowns, the Blue Wave boys lacrosse team marches into this spring with an asset that has eluded several past rosters within the Darien dynasty: depth.

"We definitely have strength in numbers," said Darien head coach Jeff Brameier, now in his 27th year at the controls of the Blue Wave program. "We are deep in all areas this season."

What might be shocking to know is that overwhelming depth typically doesn't come on the heels of a deep graduating class, but it does here.

The defending FCIAC and state champions lost 15 seniors, including multiple All-Americans, to graduation. While potent goal scorers and long poles alike joined the nationwide collegiate ranks, a steady core of returning standouts remain firmly in place.

Goalie Andrew West will once again stand tall between the pipes for the Blue Wave, as the Cornell-bound captain is arguably the best goaltender in the state. With West back for one more title run, fellow captain defenseman George Benitez (Stonybrook-bound) and Eric Parnor (Maryland-bound) will anchor an athletic and fundamentally sharp crew of long poles.

In fact, Brameier will have the luxury of rotating several strong defenders between close defense and long stick midfield, likely spelling doom for opposing short sticks come game time.

"We've got some strong talent defensively, and a lot of versatility there as well," said Brameier. "We can certainly mix and match and move guys around."

Offensively, the Blue Wave should find the back of the net aplenty. Senior captain Brian Gleason will help quarterback the offense, while standout Case Matheis is fresh off a campaign that saw the talented youngster start as a freshman, a true rarity within the tradition of Blue Wave lacrosse.

With Gleason and Matheis paving the way, the attack unit figures to once again give opposing poles headaches.

In addition, several up-and-coming athletes are poised to sustain the dangerous Darien offense amid a plentiful midfield.

"We lost some scoring from a season ago, but this offensive group is definitely capable of putting plenty of points on the board," said Brameier. "We're going to have two solid midfield lines as well as a good defensive midfield line this year, which hasn't always been the case in years past."

While considerable firepower was lost to graduation day, the collective approach to practice on behalf of his younger players has suggested to Brameier that this cast is ready to step up and take centerstage. Several players were simply waiting in the wings a season ago, and suddenly that younger core appears ready to take flight this spring.

"The guys have really bought into the team process from day one onward, and I think it's going to bode well for us," said Brameier. "Along with all the hard work everyone has put in, I see some great chemistry quickly developing within this group. We're really balanced all the way thru our roster, and our depth is going to be key."