Duke-bound Case Matheis crumbled to the turf in pain.
That was not a reference to last season when the star attacker tore his miniscus. This was the second quarter of the 2012 Class M state championship game and New Canaan, winners of 16 straight, became instantly infused with confidence.
Matheis returned for one play in the fourth quarter and assisted a Darien goal to snatch the momentum away and help secure an 11-5 victory for the Blue Wave's ninth state championship.
"My teammates played so well without me, I'm so happy we pulled this out," Matheis said. "It's bittersweet because I wanted to be out there more, but I'm glad I could help out with that assist."
New Canaan scored back-to-back goals in the second half to cut the Darien lead to 7-4. Matheis, who was hit on the hip in the second quarter, tried to return to start the half, but couldn't.
Darien took a man advantage and facing a zone defense, Matheis figured he could get on the field.
"They had all the momentum and I told coach to put me back in there for the man-up," Matheis said. "The sea just parted and I saw Peter Lindley waiting in front of the crease and I found him and he scored."
Lindley had a huge game for the Blue Wave. The sophomore attack scored four goals and had a bit of a coming out party.
"He was great. I guess it's a little bit of a torch passing," Matheis said. "When he hit four goals I remembered my state championship game sophomore year. He's talented."
Henry West, who moved to midfield for his senior season, also scored four goals. He missed last season with a leg injury.
"I went to sleep thinking about playing (New Canaan) back in fifth grade," West said. "There was no way I wanted to lose to these guys."
Darien started the game quickly with a 3-0 lead but New Canaan quickly cut it to 3-2 with two goals from Mike Bossidy (2G, 1A). Although, Lindley's first goal of the game stunted the first Ram offensive as the horn sounded to end the first quarter.
Darien shut New Canaan out in the third quarter, taking a 7-2 lead behind goals from Jon Magnusson, West, and Lindley. Then Matheis, who scored his only goal in the first quarter, went down with his injury.
"My career with these guys dates back to first grade really," Matheis said. "I'm just so glad we could go out on top."
New Canaan finished the season as FCIAC champions and Class M runners-up. The Rams had goals from John Brainard (1G, 1A), Peter Krause (1G, 4A), and Matt Blasco (1G).
Matheis's storied career came to an end with a goal and an assist, and over 120 points this season. Now, he heads to Duke University.
"I was definitely emotional," Matheis said. "The pain was ease with everyone playing so well and coming out on top."
Contact John Malone on Twitter: @MSGV_Malone