NORWALK -- Wanting to "end its season in a pile," the Darien boys lacrosse team did exactly that.
Just as they planned it during training camp, the Blue Wave rushed Jack Casagrande Field at Brien McMahon High School Saturday, mobbing one another as the clock ran out on their 11-5 Class M state championship victory over New Canaan on Saturday.
The top-seeded Blue Wave led from coast to coast and rarely allowed the No. 3 Rams to build sizeable momentum en route to their seventh state championship in the last eight years. Darien's Henry West and Peter Lindley paved the way to the victory by scoring four goals each.
"As soon as we got rolling, we knew we would be hard to be stopped. And, fortunately, we ended it right," said Darien goalie Phil Huffard, who made nine saves. "We knew who their shooters were and who their initiators were, so we planned accordingly. (The seniors) deserve it so much, and they got to end the season in a pile."
With New Canaan threatening to seize the momentum after consecutive goals by Michael Bossidy cut Darien's lead from 3-0 to 3-2, Darien gained possession on New Canaan's side of the field. Putting the ball back in play with just 2.1 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, Darien's Jon Magnusson fired the ball in front of the net to Lindley, who quickly buried his shot as time expired for the 4-2 lead.
"Tim Murphy had an awesome game, Jon Magnusson had an awesome game and Peter Lindley keeps stepping up big time," Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. "(Late goals) are huge momentum lifts. Even Jon didn't know what I wanted him to do, and I said `just throw it at the goal.' It's a great play but it's a lucky play, so you'll take it."
The energy from the buzzer-beater seemingly spilled into the second quarter for Darien, which went on to score the period's only three goals (Magnusson, West and Lindley) for a 7-2 halftime edge.
FCIAC champion New Canaan, which had 16 straight wins sandwiched between two losses to Darien, began to chip away at the five-goal deficit.
First, Peter Kraus picked up his second assist when he sent a pass to John Brainard, who scored the only goal of the third period with 3:57 remaining. Trailing 7-3 going into the fourth, Kraus required just 55 seconds to pick up his second goal, as Brainard returned the favor by setting up Kraus.
"You've got to tip your hat to Darien because they played a tremendous game, a great game across the board," New Canaan coach Alex Whitten said. "I'm disappointed for our seniors after not really having their best game at the end. Our senior class this year has been nothing but a true inspiration to me as a coach and to their teammates."
Case Matheis, who suffered what was described as "hip pointer injury" and was used sparingly in the second half, re-entered the game with his team on the man advantage. Matheis deftly delivered a pass to Lindley, who again scored from short range following a nifty finish an 8-4 lead. Just over a minute later, Lindley scored again for the five-goal advantage and Darien was its way.
New Canaan quickly got one back when Bossidy found Matt Blasco for a goal with 5:29 remaining, but West scored the final two goals to put the game out of reach, and the celebration was on.
"You couldn't ask for a better way to go out," West, a senior captain said. "To look back at the season we had and the way this game went, it was perfect. A perfect way to end our careers."
DARIEN 11, NEW CANAAN 5
NEW CANAAN 2 0 1 2--5
DARIEN 4 3 0 4--11
Records: New Canaan 16-4, Darien 19-1.
Scoring: NC--Michael Bossidy (2g, 1a), Peter Kraus (1g, 2a), John Brainard (1g, 1a) Matt Blasco (1g). D--Henry West (4g), Peter Lindley (4g), Case Matheis (1g, 1a), Jon Magnusson (1g, 1a), Tim Murphy (1g), Tony Britton (1a). Goalies: NC--Tom Carey (10 saves); D--Phil Huffard (9). Shots: NC--26; D--30.