Jeff Brameier registered his 500th career win when the Darien boys lacrosse team was victorious in the FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals last week -- a game he won't forget. The Blue Wave veteran coach will long remember career victory No. 502 as well.
Two games after giving Brameier a coaching milestone, Darien continued its perfect season with a near-perfect performance in its biggest game of the season to date.
Top-seeded Darien showed why it entered Friday night's FCIAC Tournament final undefeated, seizing the momentum from the start in its impressive 11-6 triumph over second-seeded Greenwich before a big crowd at Brien McMahon High School.
With the win, the Blue Wave (19-0) captured its 13th FCIAC title, tying them with Wilton for the most titles in conference history.
"I told our team this is a special season," Brameier said. "To finish the regular season undefeated, then go 3-0 in the FCIAC Tournament is very impressive. This is really a great group and tonight, we showed that we are a balanced team. We have superstar power, but we also have lot of team players on both ends of the field."
Senior attack Peter Lindley scored a team-high four goals, while seniors Harry Gillespie and John Reed and sophomore Colin Minicus each tallied twice for the Blue Wave. The win was especially sweet for seniors such as Lindley, who were eager to celebrate their first FCIAC title.
"This feels great, ever since I began playing lacrosse I wanted to be on a team that won the FCIAC title," Lindley said. "I remember watching teams from the past win the title, so it's great to be a part of this."
Since finishing an uncharacteristic 12-8 and being eliminated in both the FCIAC and state tournaments last spring, Darien has been on a mission to make it back to the top.
"We have avenged all of our losses from last year, which was one of our goals," Lindley said. "Our seniors and senior captains have really done a great job of leading us this year."
Greenwich (16-3), which suffered a 10-4 loss to Darien during the regular season, received four goals from senior attack Luke Finneran.
"Give Darien credit, they capitalized on their opportunities on offense and we didn't capitalize on enough of ours," Finneran said. "Defensively, I thought we played pretty well. We just needed to convert our shots."
The loss marked the second straight season the Cardinals fell in the FCIAC finals. Last year, they were beaten by New Canaan.
"We dug a hole for ourselves for the second game in a row and it's tough to come back all the time against great teams like that," said GHS coach Scott Bulkley, whose squad overcame a 5-1 deficit against Ridgefield in the FCIAC semifinals. "We made it very difficult for ourselves against a Darien team that makes it tough for you to get possession."
Goals from Lindley and Gillespie gave the Blue Wave a 2-0 lead the first 1:27 of the first quarter. After causing a Cardinals turnover, Darien made it 3-0 at the 5:25 mark of the opening quarter with Lindley putting a low shot by GHS junior goalie Tommy Rogan. Lindley buried a left-handed laser inside the right post with 1:56 remaining and Gillespie followed with a goal 40 seconds later, putting Greenwich in a 5-0 hole. Read Full Article
While Andrew Pugliese gave the Blue Wave important possessions in from the faceoff X, senior Phil Huffard rose to the occasion when Greenwich had the ball, making 12 saves, five of which came in the opening quarter.
"Huffard is a tough guy to get shots past," said Brameier, who also praised the play of defender Mark Evanchick and long stick midfielder Brad McCarthy. "You rarely score easy goals off him. We were able to take them out of their game plan a bit, by making them do some things they don't like."
Reed tallied, giving the Blue Wave a 6-0 second-quarter advantage, but Greenwich gained some momentum. Midfielder Will Perry fed Finneran for a goal, then Finneran score again, cutting Darien's lead to 6-2. Trailing 7-2 Lindley converted a shot from 20 yards out, Finneran notched his third goal with one second to go in the second quarter, making it 7-3.
Any momentum the Cardinals had was snatched when Darien opened the third quarter with three straight goals, two of which came from Lindley.
"We were winning faceoffs and getting possession, which gave us scoring opportunities," Gillespie said. "After going 12-8 last year we were determined to come back strong this year and show we were back to being one of the best teams in the FCIAC."
Jack Kniffin added one goal and two assists for Darien, while Kyle Foote and Bobby Goggin each had one goal for GHS. The Cardinals received a tough break when, according to Bulkley, Foote suffered an Achilles' injury during the fourth quarter.
"They jumped out to a fast start on us, taking a 6-0 lead, which was key," GHS senior defender Jack Harrington said. "We take responsibility for that on defense. Now we need to have a short memory and put this game behind us and get ready for the state tournament."
Darien 11, Greenwich 6
GREENWICH 0 3 2 1--6
DARIEN 5 2 3 1--11
Records: Darien 19-0; Greenwich 16-3
Scoring: G--Luke Finneran (4 g); Kyle Foote (1 g, 1a); Bobby Goggin (1 g); Jamie Paradise (2 a); Decker Curran (1 a); Will Perry (1 a). D--Peter Lindley (4 g, 1 a); Jack Kniffin (1 g, 2 a); John Reed (2 g); Harry Gillespie (2 g, 1 a); Colin Minicus (2 g). Goalies: G--Tommy Rogan (8 saves); D--Phil Huffard (12 saves).