DARIEN -- You could almost hear the Fat Lady warm up with the sound of the opening whistle.
Fresh off its FCIAC title blowout of Greenwich last week, the top-seeded and undefeated Darien boys lacrosse team blasted No. 16 Stratford 21-2 to open its Class M tournament run Wednesday at Darien High School. The Blue Wave led 18-0 at halftime, as 15 different players recorded a goal. Red Devils attack Drew Cerone tallied a pair of scores in the fourth quarter to put Stratford on the scoreboard.
"We deserved to be here," said Red Devils coach Dave Cochran, whose team finished at 9-9. "We did what we had to do to get here. And we just had to come in and play as hard as we could. We knew we faced an uphill battle. Darien is a heck of a team. They're undefeated and fourth or fifth in the nation. So, it was an honor to come out here and play against them."
Darien (20-0) netted eight goals in the game's first seven minutes, including two from sophomore attack Jack Kniffin. At the 4:30 mark of the opening quarter, junior faceoff specialist Andrew Pugliese quickly claimed a draw and sprinted straight upfield, before rifling the ball upstairs for a 9-0 lead. The goal drew a timeout from Cochran, who reemphasized his keys of aggressive defense and possession offense to keep the game as close as possible.
The Blue Wave -- No. 4 in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse National Rankings -- went on to score twice more in the period, as Christian Trifone struck with 47 seconds to go. Trifone scored again to open the second quarter, when Darien began to exclusively deploy its bench players.
"It's important that we keep moving forward and remain positive," Blue Wave coach Jeff Brameier said. "It was an opportunity for kids who have been practicing all season to come out and play. To the credit of Stratford they came, they scored a couple goals. And you know, this is what happens when you've got beginning programs and high-end programs."
Sophomore back-ups Brendan Seiler and Liam Rischmann each recorded an unassisted goal at under 90 seconds left before halftime, putting Darien ahead by a dozen and a half. Largely thanks to its early offensive onslaught, the Blue Wave led 29-5 in shots through two quarters of play. While his starters never saw the field after intermission, Brameier was pleased with their few minutes of action.
"We're still working on a few things," he said. "We're trying to get them to learn a couple of new things and today we got to experiment with some of those."
After a running clock was installed for the entire second half, the teams played a scoreless third quarter, one dominated by Darien possession. Moments into the final stanza, Wave freshman Riley Stewart scored with less than 10 minutes to go followed by Cerone's goals in the ensuing five minutes.
The Red Devils will graduate 16 senior players, who missed out on a state tournament berth by a single game each of the past two seasons. Senior goalie Steven Tobey collected five saves in his final contest.
Darien 21, Stratford 2 Read Full Article
STRATFORD 0 0 0 2--2
DARIEN 11 8 0 3--21
Records: Darien 20-0, Stratford 9-9. Scoring: S-- Drew Cerone 2 goals, Brendan Miller 1 assist, Isiah Booker 1 a; D--Christian Trifone 3g, Colin Minicus 2g, 2a, Jack Kniffin 2g, Owen Koorbusch 2g, Brendan Seiler 2g, Tim Lochtefeld 1g, 1a, Finley Collins 1g, 1a, Kyle Cornell 1g, Harry Gillespie 1g, Andrew Pugliese 1g, Tyler Payne 1g, Liam Rischmann 1g, Riley Stewart 1g, Goose Bolton 1g, Johann Nottebohm 1g, Rock Stewart 1a, Jake Kirby 1a. Goalies: S--Steven Tobey (5 saves); D--Phil Huffard (1), Phil Rech (1), Robbie Juterbock (1), Ryan Cornell (1). Shots: S--9; D--38. Highlights: S-- Drew Cerone scored two goals in the fourth quarter. D-- The Blue Wave outscored the Red Devils 18-0 by halftime. Fifteen different players scored for Darien.