New Canaan routs Darien behind strong defense, three goals by Stanton, Kraus
NEW CANAAN -- Behind a monster third quarter, the New Canaan boys lacrosse team turned another would-be classic with archrival Darien into a lopsided 9-4 victory, its fifth in a row to begin its FCIAC title defense.
While Harry Stanton and Michael Kraus each notched hat tricks, the name of the game was defense for New Canaan, which held the often explosive Darien attack to just four goals.
New Canaan's Eric Persky was a defensive standout, as the senior captain was instrumental in preventing Darien's Peter Lindley, one of the top attackmen in the FCIAC, from finding his way onto the scoresheet until just 1:10 remained in the fourth quarter.
"We love playing against them and working towards that game, but we're still early in the season. It's a building block, but this is a great point for our team and I think we're looking forward to the future," Persky said. "Going in, we knew (Lindley) was scoring six-plus goals a game, and he was one of their biggest threats on offense. Coach said if I could contain him it could be one of the keys to the game."
New Canaan goalie Trent Nader also made several difficult saves to thwart a handful of Blue Wave scoring opportunities.
"Just the way we come to practice every single day is special. We see that confidence. The senior leadership we have this year is special, and it's not just the four captains," First-year New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said. "Our defense is incredible, but I think people are starting to realize how good our goalie is too. Trent Nader is a special, special goalie."
After nearly 11 minutes of scoreless play, Darien's Kyle Cornell found Harry Gillespie, who scored from fairly long range to give his Blue Wave their first and only lead. New Canaan drew even less than a minute later when Robby Paul zipped a pass through traffic to Griffin White, who buried his shot to knot the game at 1-1, which held up until the end of the first quarter.
New Canaan, which lost to Darien in last season's Class M state title game, took the lead for good with 9:57 left in the second, when Stanton scored his first of three goals after receiving a pass, juking to his right, turning to his left and burying a short-range shot.
"It's awesome. We haven't beaten Darien in five years, and coming into this one was a little bit different of a feeling," Stanton said. "We've always kind of been intimidated by Darien because they're incredible and this one we knew that if we could get a lead that we weren't going to turn back. That three or four or five goal span that we had provided us with a lot of energy."
New Canaan boosted its lead to 3-1 with 4:35 remaining in the half on a goal by Duke Repko, only to have Darien close to within 3-2 on Kevin Seiler's goal with 3:36 remaining.
Although the scoreboard at halftime may have suggested otherwise, Darien coach Jeff Brameier believed New Canaan controlled the contest right from the opening faceoff.
"I think they took it to us pretty much the whole game. I think we forced the issue on offense and didn't capitalize on any quality possessions," Brameier said. "(New Canaan) was very aggressive, but disciplined on offense and they were able to put our defense in a position where they had to play hard. We were on defense probably two thirds of the game at least."
If the Rams won the first half, they dominated the second.
With a substantial advantage in possession and time on the attack midway through the third, New Canaan scored three goals in a span of just 2:15. Stanton scored on a wraparound, Cole Turpin set up Michael Kraus, and Kraus scored again for the 6-2 lead.
With time dwindling in the third and New Canaan down a man, Nader made a save and launched a pass downfield to Stanton, who went airborne to receive it before finding Kraus for a goal with 33 seconds left in the frame, giving the Rams a 7-2 advantage heading into the fourth and putting the Wave in a huge hole.
"It's a pretty young team here and we're still trying to feel our way out. We had a tough loss over the weekend (at Niskayuna, NY), and today was probably even tougher," Brameier said. "We certainly believe in the philosophy that playing against good competition only gets you better."
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New Canaan 9, Darien 4
DARIEN 1 1 0 2 --4
NEW CANAAN 1 2 4 2--9
Records: Darien 3-3, 3-1 FCIAC; New Canaan 5-0, 4-0 FCIAC.
Scoring: D -- Kevin Seiler 2g; Peter Lindley 1g; Harry Gillespie 1g; Kyle Cornell 1a; Ian Burgoyne 1a. NC -- Mike Kraus 3g; Harry Stanton 3g; Duke Repko 1g, 1a; Teddy Bossidy 1a; Griffin White 1g; Austin Nader 1g; Colin Ahrens 1a; Cole Turpin 1a. Goalies: D -- Phil Huffard (14 saves). NC -- Trent Nader (12 saves).