DARIEN — Jeff Brameier jokingly referenced his intelligence when explaining personnel moves implemented today to compensate for the absence of one of his top scorers.
In a sense, it was a microcosm both of the storyline that greeted the Darien boys lacrosse team that Brameier coaches entering the season, and a reminder that while his cerebral approach has brought the program national recognition, it is the players that have made the job easier.
With Logan McGovern, one of the Blue Wave’s primary scoring threats, sidelined with an ankle injury, Brameier elevated Jackson Peters into a bigger role. Peters scored twice early in the opening quarter and later added another goal in a 12-6 victory over Wilton.
McGovern, who scored his 200th career goal this week, sustained the injury Thursday against Fairfield Warde.
“We had one day to make some decisions on who goes where and I guess I made an OK decision because I bumped Jackson Peters from second line to first midline,” Brameier said. “I must be a smart guy.”
Brian Minicus finished with 3 goals and 4 assists for the Blue Wave (8-0), which ran its win streak to 62 games. Hudson Pokorny added 2 goals.
With their heaviest graduation losses in some time, the thought was this might be the season the Blue Wave could be susceptible, especially with a number of other teams more experienced. One of those was the Warriors.
But Darien has offered no indication thus far that a letdown is forthcoming. Quite the opposite. The play of Peters was representative of the team’s ‘Next Man Up’ philosophy.
If Peters was an example today, Sean Collins has been the poster child for what seems like the Blue Wave’s revolving door of talent. Brameier admitted that the goaltending position, one of the major strengths over the years, was the biggest question mark coming into the season.
Collins has been an exclamation point. He finished with 15 saves today, including six in the fourth quarter.
“I thought he has proven he’s up there with the best goalies in the state,” Brameier said. “He’s been like that all year for us. He’s kind of an unknown entity. He’s been our rock in the net and really doing a great job. He’s worked hard. He’s done all the little extra training things you need to do to make things happen. I tip my hat to guys like that. Bide his time, wait for his senior year and then step up and perform. He won the job fair and square and he’s doing great things.”
Wilton fell to 3-4 after its third straight loss. The defeats have been against top teams, but there also have been none of the quality wins needed to meet the team’s own high expectations.
Wilton coach John Wiseman is not happy but not yet concerned either.
“It’s not how you start it’s how you finish,” Wiseman said. “We’ll figure it out, it’s just frustrating. Because you know the talent that we have and what we could do. Our record should be different but we have to earn that. I’m not worried, I’m just frustrated because we’re a better team. We’ll do it the way we’ve been doing it historically. We’ll get there in the end.”
Today’s loss followed a season-long pattern. The Warriors overcame a 7-2 deficit with three straight goals, but Peters ended the run and Pokorny’s goal with five seconds left in the third quarter put Darien on top 10-6.
“You’ve seen the movie,” Wiseman said. “If we play for 48 minutes we can play with anybody.”
Joe Murtha and Brian Calabrese each scored twice for Wilton.
“We’ll do some things,” Wiseman said. “We’ve got something from our bag of tricks we’ve done in the past. This is something we’ve seen before so I have some ancient old coaching tricks we’ll employ and we’ll figure it out. We’ll get there. It’s really just concentration that’s all.”
Today was the start of four straight weekend games against league contenders for Darien. Next up is New Canaan, followed by Greenwich and Ridgefield.
“It’s the first major FCIAC game for us of many to come on Saturdays,” Brameier said. “Those are the major players outside of Staples maybe that we have to reckon with.”