Late surge lifts Darien past Manhasset
Winless in three previous attempts against mighty Manhasset, All-American attackman Case Matheis had been eyeing Thursday evening's mega-matchup ever since the 2012 spring schedules were announced.
Like so many of the other goals on his lacrosse to-do list, Matheis can now cross this one off as well.
Matheis had a hat trick and two assists, fellow senior Bobby Weaver finished with four goals and one assist, and sophomore goalie Paul Huffard came up with one big save after another in crunch-time as Darien rallied to defeat Manhasset 10-7 in the annual Connecticut vs. New York showdown between the perennial Tri-State area powerhouse programs at Stamford's Boyle Stadium.
Trailing 7-5 after a score by the Indians' Sean Grimm midway through the third quarter, the Blue Wave (7-0) ended the game with five unanswered goals to keep their quest for a perfect season alive.
Among the many subplots to this highly-anticipated game between nationally-ranked teams was the matchup between the Duke-bound Matheis, perhaps the nation's top attack, and his good friend, All-American defenseman Bobby Duvnjak.
The Harvard-bound Duvnjak helped limit Matheis to just one goal in the last two meetings -- and got the Indians (5-2) on the board first early in the first quarter -- but this time it was Matheis and his Blue Wave teammates who would have the final say.
"This game has been on my mind since day one so it was definitely a goal of ours to come away with a win against them," Matheis said. "Bobby is a friend of mine, and hopefully people got to see a great matchup between two of the best players in the country going at it."
There were four ties in this back-and-forth battle, and Darien would draw even again at the 11:01 mark of the fourth quarter when Weaver came from behind the cage and ripped a shot past Syracuse-bound goalie Evan Molloy (12 saves).
Less than a minute later, Weaver set up Tim Murphy for a quick stick goal which gave the Blue Wave their first lead of the night.
Huffard made sure they kept it, registering 11 saves -- including four key stops down the stretch.
Weaver, meanwhile, padded the cushion to 9-7 off a feed from Matheis with 6:24 remaining before Kevin Seiler found the back of the net for an insurance goal at the 2:47 mark.
"It feels great," Weaver said. "We have a lot of respect for their program and were really looking forward to this game. Offensively we started clicking late in the third quarter and (Huffard) was just awesome to watch."
Senior Dino Lavelle led the Indians with a hat trick, while Quinn Moroney had a game-high five assists in the loss. Jimmy Clarke and Kevin Katzmann also scored for Manhasset.
Henry West added a goal and an assist for Darien, which outshot its opponent 32-24 and won the turnover battle 14-10. The Indians controlled 13 of the game's 21 face-offs, and had a 30-25 edge in groundballs.
The score was identical to last year's game played on Long Island, only for the Blue Wave, the outcome was far different.
Less than a week after using a big third quarter to knock off defending California state champion Torrey Pines in an East vs. West showdown, Darien notched another signature win for both itself -- Connecticut lacrosse.
"We prepared hard all week," said Huffard, who praised the defense in front of him spearheaded by Tony Britton, Tommy Lyons and Sam Meyjes. "They helped give me shots I could handle, and I handled them. It was a total team effort, and just a great win for us."
The game, which was live-streamed on MSGVarsity.com, will premier on MSG Varsity, iO Ch. 14, on Saturday at 5 p.m.