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Thursday, March 22 Sports

Darien boys lacrosse dominates Hand, advances to Class M state championship

By Andrew Callahan

FAIRFIELD — Bring on Act III.

Following its 18-3 drubbing of No. 13 Daniel Hand Wednesday in the Class M semifinals, undefeated and top-ranked Darien boys lacrosse will face archrival New Canaan in the state championship Saturday. Seniors John Reed and Peter Lindley each recorded a hat trick against the Tigers as Jack Kniffin tallied seven assists before halftime. The Blue Wave led 14-0 at intermission and didn’t allow a goal until the final minutes.

“We can’t underestimate anybody. And today (the players) didn’t,” Darien coach Jeff Brameier said continuing the perfect season. “Today they came, and they did all the little things we had to do.”

The victory sets up a third meeting between the Blue Wave and Rams this season on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk. New Canaan bested Joel Barlow 16-1 in the second semifinal held at Fairfield Ludlowe Wednesday. While there is undisputed pressure on Darien (22-0) to secure an undefeated season and simultaneously put away its chief rival, Brameier believes the journey his team took to this point has more than prepared them for the title contest.

“We’ve had a lot of big ones this year and that’s why we do them,” he said. “It’s to get them ready for Saturday. We’re ready for that heat again.”

Reed and Kniffin combined to apply early heat on Daniel Hand (11-9) with a nifty transition goal less than two minutes after the opening faceoff. The pair connected again in the first quarter, moments before Colin Minicus converted a Kniffin feed for a 6-0 lead just as the buzzer sounded. Lindley then took the reins at the outset of the second period, shredding the Tigers’ zone defense with three quick goals.

“I think we had a pretty good sense of what their zone was doing,” Brameier said. “We have a lot of different combinations we use against zone ... and our defense kept getting the ball back.”

After Hand defenseman Thomas Durkin was assessed a one-minute pushing penalty, the Blue Wave took full advantage of their man-up opportunity by way of three more scores. Kyle Cornell finished off an unassisted effort with 7:14 left in the half, and 11 seconds later, Reed struck with help from Minucus. Next, Minicus took his turn at the net, converting a long-distance shot on a bang-bang play.

Later, Reed polished off his hat trick on yet another on-target Kniffin feed.

“We were able to cut each other and get some nice feeds in for goals today,” Reed said. “One time he cut to me and I passed it across and he stuck the shot. Then, another time on the exact same play, he passed it to me and I was able to stick the shot.”

Tiger attack Reid Sweitzer scored two late goals for Hand, while freshman goalie Patrick Burkinshaw made a game-high eight saves.

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acallahan@bcnnew.com; @DNCSports

Darien 18, Daniel Hand 3

HAND0 0 0 3—3

DARIEN6 8 1 3—18

Records: Darien 22-0, Daniel Hand 11-9. Scoring: H— Reid Sweitzer 2 goals, Michael Cinicolo 1g, Benjamin Solin; D—John Reed 3 g, 1a, Peter Lindley 3g, Colin Minicus 2g, 2a, Kyle Cornell 2g, 1a, Brendan Seiler 2g, 1a, Harry Gillespie 2g, Jack Kniffin 1g, 7a, Owen Koorbusch 1g, Christian Trifone 1g, Matt Vossler 1g, Jake Kirby 1a, Andrew Pugliese. Goalies: H—Patrick Burkinshaw (8 saves); D—Phil Huffard (3), Phil Rech (3). Shots: H—12; D—38. Highlights: H—Reid Sweitzer collected two fourth-quarter goals. Freshman goalie Patrick Burkinshaw made eight saves. D— Sophomore Jack Kniffin racked up seven assists before halftime. 10 different players scored for the Blue Wave, including seniors John Reed and Peter Lindley, each of whom recorded hat tricks.