DARIEN — Bobby Lutz may be best conditioned to set up a strategy to try and contain the Darien boys lacrosse team. Before taking over as the coach at Greenwich, he was an assistant to the Blue Wave’s Jeff Brameier, spending eight years in a town where cradling a stick begins, well, just shortly after leaving the cradle.
After today’s 17-6 loss to Darien in the Class L quarterfinals, Lutz was asked what it will take to produce a shock-the-state upset against the team currently ranked first in the nation in one poll.
Lutz offered a new take.
“Go graduation,” Lutz said. “They all leave.”
Unfortunately for Lutz — and the rest of Connecticut — commencement will take place a week too late, making his approach novel but impractical.
Greenwich (14-6) gave the Blue Wave one of their biggest tests of the spring, a 12-8 loss after holding a 5-2 halftime lead in the penultimate game of the regular season.
“We almost blew our season there in many ways,” Brameier said, echoing the reminder he had given his players the past two days. “We almost had our goals taken away from us. They’re aware what’s at stake.”
In faceoff specialist Bailey Savio, the Cardinals are equipped to have more possession time than most teams. And while Savio won 16 of 23 draws, the Blue Wave defense delivered another stifling effort.
“We knew coming into the game that Savio was a great FOGO and we were going to be on defense a lot,” said Quinn Fay, one of the leaders in front of the Darien net. “A lot of practice all week was preparing to stop those fast-break opportunities. Like we have been doing all season, playing great team defense, always having two slides ready.”
Darien (19-0), which will face Glastonbury in Wednesday’s semifinals, never had to worry about playing catch up today. Tanner Strub won the opening faceoff and 32 seconds later Brian Minicus scored the first of the Blue Wave’s five straight goals to start the game.
“You have to play great defense to create transition, which we obviously got today, and it wasn’t just on the defense, it was rides and the unsettled situations,” Brameier said. “Hats off to Greenwich and Savio, being the most dominant faceoff kid in the state and probably the region. Tanner had a very good day, relatively speaking. He got enough and we got a few goals out of it.”
Logan McGovern led the Blue Wave with 6 goals and 1 assist, one a beautiful shot over his shoulder off of one of Riley Stewart’s 3 assists. Kevin Lindley added 5 goals and 1 assist. Minicus finished with 2 goals.
Perhaps the most telling number of the day: Darien’s 10 assists.
“I think that’s our bread and butter as everybody knows, and we spend countless hours moving the ball, different drills that are unsettled, different combinations,” Brameier said. “The kids know how to do that. They can do that in their sleep and obviously we have some great scorers and kids who know how to finish. It starts with the goalie, it starts with the defense turning it over and then the speed of our team, running downhill and creating pressure.”
Lutz has watched the Blue Wave execute their fastbreak from different sidelines.
“I think just the pace of the game was dictated by how they played on transition,” Lutz said. “You automatically get yourself into a hole. You get yourself out of a patient set and you start doing all or nothing dodging, so they took us out of our gameplan and we couldn’t get a rhythm going.”
Jack Feda concluded a terrific sophomore season with 2 goals for Greenwich.
Lutz said the Blue Wave have an added intangible that complements the skill level.
With a team like this there is so much that goes into chemistry,” Lutz said. “It’s the same group of kids that have been playing together, some have played multiple sports together. That bond and chemistry that you can’t simulate. They know each other so well that it’s a machine.”
It is possible the most dangerous potential remaining opponent for Darien could be Wilton in the final if both teams advance. The Blue Wave won the teams’ last meeting, in the FCIAC semifinals, 17-3.
This has been a focused team that has not demonstrated complacency at any point this season.
Of the chance to finish an undefeated season and run the winning streak to 54 games, Fay said, “It’s definitely getting close, it’s in the back of our heads and we’re excited for the next two.”