Darien leaves no doubt against Wilton
Last spring, the Wilton boys lacrosse team ended Darien's season in the Class M semifinals -- and their six-year reign as state champs as well.
So you'll never guess which team the Blue Wave wanted to see in the playoffs this season.
Just let Henry West handle the answer to that one.
"We've been thinking about this game for 365 days," West said. "More than anything, we wanted to return the favor."
And that they did.
West had four goals -- including three in a key 53-second span late in the second quarter -- and top-seeded Darien went on to score 10 consecutive goals in an impressive 13-4 victory over fifth-seeded Wilton at Brien McMahon's Jack Casagrande Field Wednesday evening.
The win sends the Blue Wave (19-2) into the Class M finals against third-seeded New Canaan, which extended its winning streak to 16 games with a 17-6 rout of second-seeded Avon in a semifinal matchup at Ludlowe H.S. Wednesday.
The red-hot Rams haven't tasted defeat since a 13-3 setback to the Blue Wave on April 17, and All-American attackman Case Matheis knows his team will have to earn its ninth state title on Saturday at McMahon H.S.
"They're coming for us," Matheis said, "So we need to be ready."
The defending state champion Warriors (15-6) were also gunning for Darien after a 10-8 regular-season loss, and played well early on, taking a 2-1 lead into the second quarter on back-to-back goals by Sean Carroll and Chris Nugent, who finished with a hat trick and one assist.
But the final three quarters would belong to Darien, which tied the contest 3-3 on a goal by sophomore Peter Lindley at the 7:52 mark.
That would spark an 11-0 run by the Blue Wave, who held the Warriors scoreless for over 31 minutes behind a stellar effort from sophomore goalie Paul Huffard (10 saves) and an air-tight defense spearheaded by seniors Tony Britton, Tommy Lyons and Tim Brickman.
"It was a great team effort," Britton said. "We weathered the storm early on and then our stars took over."
Indeed they did.
Lindley finished with a hat trick, junior Kevin Seiler scored three straight goals in the fourth quarter and Matheis, who was held to a single goal, contributed with two big assists to West to help break the 3-3 tie late in the first half.
Tim Murphy and Corey Eppley also found the net in the victory.
For Wilton, face-off extraordinare Ted Ottens had another outstanding game in that department while fellow junior Conor Johnson stopped 11 shots.
Despite the lopsided loss, coach John Wiseman was able to reflect on another successful season.
"You always want to win," Wiseman said. "But in the short time I've had to reflect back on the season, we overachieved considering where we were supposed to finish. We played hard and had some big wins over New Canaan, Fairfield Prep and Yorktown, and then getting to FCIAC and state semifinals. I'm pleased with the effort, Darien was the better team tonight though. No doubt."