Greenwich shocks Darien in OT behind improbable rally
First Decker Curran beat the clock. Then he beat Darien.
The Greenwich High School senior was just getting started when he stunned Blue Wave by tallying the tying goal with 4.4 seconds remaining in regulation of Saturday's much-anticipated lacrosse showdown.
The opportunistic attackman created a whole lot more drama several minutes later.
Curran beat the clock by notching the equalizer in the closing seconds of regulation with a spectacular tally, then shocked Darien, scoring off a pass from Will Perry with 2:34 remaining in overtime, giving Greenwich an exhilarating 12-11 victory over the rival Blue Wave at Cardinal Stadium.
The Blue Wave held an 11-9 lead and had possession with less than one minute remaining, but the Cardinals got the ball with approximately 20 seconds left and scored twice, sending the game into overtime. In the extra session, senior faceoff specialist Michael Sullivan gave GHS possession and Curran converted the third shot he took, putting it past Darien goalie Ryan Cornell.
Immediately after Curran's shot settled into the net, the Cardinals (12-3, 10-0 FCIAC) stormed the field in celebration of their biggest victory since winning their first state title last spring.
"We had a set play that fell apart, because they read it," said Curran, who finished with three goals and two assists. "Then Perry dodged a little bit from behind with his head up and gave me a nice little spot feed to the top and I was able to finish it low-to-low with a little bit of a screen in front. We were disappointed that we lost to Darien two times in hockey -- in the FCIAC and state championships -- so a lot of our boys wanted to see them again."
Darien, which defeated Greenwich twice last season, including a triumph in the FCIAC Tournament finals, saw its lead trimmed to 11-10 when junior attack Michael Sands scored off a Perry pass with 10.8 seconds to go in regulation. Sullivan won the ensuing faceoff and moved the ball to Sands, who sent a pass to Curran. With the clock winding down, Curran quickly caught Sands' pass on the right side, a few feet in front of the cage and deposited a low shot inside the left post, making it 11-11.
"We got it to overtime by never giving up," Curran said. "Our team never really panics in situations like that."
As exciting as the win was for the Cardinals, that's as frustrating as it was for the Blue Wave (12-3, 8-2), who of course, felt like they let one get away and lost their third straight.
"Obviously that's a situation where we know better," said Darien coach Jeff Brameier, whose team dropped close decisions to New Canaan and St. Anthony's (N.Y.) earlier in the week. "I feel bad for the kids, because this is a game where we should have been walking off the field a winner. Sully (Michael Sullivan) did a great job on three faceoffs in a row to help win the game. That's sports and that's lacrosse -- you never say never."
With the win, the Cardinals put themselves in position to draw the No. 1 seed in next week's FCIAC Tournament. Darien meanwhile, could have earned the top seed with a victory Saturday, but now falls back to the pack.
Perry recorded a hat tricks with two assists, while senior attack Montana Larson had three goals and Sands tallied two goals and two assists for the victors.
"We have a very good faceoff guy, who gets us the ball and we feel we can score quickly and it showed," GHS coach Scott Bulkley said. "In overtime, we looked for our best shooter and he canned the shot. Decker is a gamer, when the game is on the line, he wants the ball. He has a second gear and is able to get after it."
Darien received three goals and two assists from junior Colin Minicus and a hat trick with one assist from junior Jack Kniffin. Junior Hudson Hamill added two goals and one assist for the Blue Wave, who saw Cornell make 11 saves.
"This one hurts, but we have less than a week before the FCIAC quarterfinals, so we have to move on," Brameier said. "It hurts our seeding, Greenwich will be the No. 1 seed. Our kids have been in enough battles to know how to come back from this."
Junior midfielder Scooter Harrington converted a low shot, giving the home team a 1-0 lead 1:28 into the opening quarter. The visitors responded with four consecutive goals to open a 4-1 advantage after the first quarter. Minicus evened the score at 1-1, then Kevin Lindley tallied with his squad in a man-up situation, putting Darien ahead 2-1. Hamill's goal, followed by Minicus' second tally gave the Blue Wave a 4-1 edge. The Cardinals buckled down defensively in the second quarter and entered halftime in a 5-5 deadlock. Like Cornell, senior Tommy Rogan was impressive in goal, making 13 saves for the Cards, who were paced defensively by Griffin Tiedy, Callan Smith and Ed Larkin.
"We had a good second quarter, our offense picked it up and our defense played well," Rogan said. "When it came down to the end of the game, we needed to get stop after stop and that's what we were able to accomplish. Sullivan winning the faceoffs was huge."
Larson scored twice during the second quarter for the Cards, who fell behind 9-6 in the third quarter thanks to a pair of Kniffin goals and a tally from Hamill.
"Darien has a history of going on runs like that, but we weathered the storm, which gave us an opportunity to come back," Bulkley said.
The game featured two of the better faceoff men in the state in Sullivan and Darien's Andrew Pugliese. Sullivan was 12 for 21 on faceoffs.
"Any time you have a top team like this coming into your stadium you have a huge statement to make," Sullivan said. "They're a team with a great history, so this was a huge win for us."