NORWALK — There was a moment early in the third quarter on Tuesday, when the New Canaan boys lacrosse team was trying to stay within striking distance of its FCIAC semifinal with Darien, when Rams scoring star Michael Kraus was positioned for an uncontested shot on goal.
And on most nights, against most goaltenders, Kraus’ shot would have ended up where so many of his attempts rest — in the opposing goal.
This time, Ryan Cornell, the Blue Wave’s goalie, watched intently and, as soon as Kraus released the ball, moved calmly to shag it out of the air.
On this day there was no solving Cornell or his teammates. In perhaps their most complete performance of the year, the Blue Wave rolled to an unexpectedly easy 13-7 win at Brien McMahon.
“He stood on his head; he was the real deal,” Darien coach Jeff Brameier said of his goaltender. “He got in a zone, and once a goalie gets like that, they want you to keep shooting. The kids were laughing; they’re not scoring on him.”
Third-seeded Darien (15-3) will play No. 4 Ridgefield (14-4) for the title on Thursday night.
With the score tied at 2-2 midway through the first quarter, Darien scored four straight goals in a span of just under 4 1/2 minutes and the second-seeded Rams never recovered.
Colin Minicus scored three times in the quarter and finished with four goals for the game. Hudson Hamill had two goals and three assists and Jack Book also scored twice.
“This was definitely one of our best games,” Minicus said. “We’ve started playing a lot better lately. Our offense is clicking a lot more. We have a lot of pride in our offense to wheel and deal. It all starts with our defense.”
Peaking at the right time seems to be the current theme for Darien, which lost three of four games before ending the regular season with a rout of Norwalk and then toppling Staples in the first round of the FCIAC Tournament.
Included in the slump was a 9-8 loss to the Rams.
“We were waiting for this kind of performance,” Brameier said. “I think we’re clicking on all cylinders now.”
The return of Jack Kniffin on attack from injury has certainly provided a boost. And Cornell is having an outstanding season, with Mark Evanchick leading an aggressive defensive unit.
“It was awesome to get off to a lead like that,” Evanchick said. “We came out strong.”
There will be no deciding game between the teams this year; they are in different state tournament classes.
“We just treated this like another game with New Canaan,” Evanchick said. “We did talk about how this was the last chance for the seniors.”
Justin Meichner, with three goals, was the only New Canaan player with more than one. The Rams will take a 14-4 record into the state tournament.
“We were fired up, especially after the last time when we didn’t come out as hot as we did today,” Minicus said.
A scary proposition for the Blue Wave’s remaining opponents is Evanchick’s analysis of the team’s performance.
“I think there’s always room for improvement,” Evanchick said. “Today we just scratched the surface.”