NORWALK — It was a seemingly innocuous play that did not succeed in a game his team had in control. But Tommy Hellman’s leaping effort to try and get the Darien boys lacrosse boys team possession with a ball rolling out of bounds late in the third quarter of tonight’s Class L semifinal was a microcosm of the Blue Wave’s effort to get back to a sixth straight final.
“We didn’t want this to be our last game. We wanted to bring the intensity,” Hellman said of his failed but noticeable effort, with the Blue Wave up 7-3 and in the middle of what became an eight-goal run.
That allowed Darien to make up an early 3-1 deficit and come away with a 9-6 win over Staples tonight at Brien McMahon.
“This team, once it rolls, can put up pretty big numbers in a fast time,” Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. “I think that’s what happened. We got on a roll in the second period, made a couple of great goals.”
The Blue Wave started its run with five goals in a span of 8:38, climaxed by Hudson Pokorny’s spectacular goal, set up after a long run by Sam Wilson, with four seconds left for a 6-3 halftime lead.
Darien added three more before the Wreckers closed with three straight scores.
The Darien players dedicated the game to Bruce Ferguson, their decorated midfielder, who in a freak accident fell down the middle of a plastic ladder and sustained cuts that required a total of over 60 stitches in both feet. Wilson played well in his place.
The fifth-seeded Blue Wave (16-4) will face Wilton in the final here on Saturday at 3:30. The Warriors won the teams’ meeting in the FCIAC semifinal, 4-3. Darien had its run of four straight state titles ended in last year’s final by Ridgefield.
“It took us a while to get rolling,” Hellman said after tonight’s game. “We have to come out better than that. Credit to Matt Freeman, who kept giving us the ball, and credit to us just sticking our shots in the second quarter. Matt did a great job, really stepping up when we needed him and that’s what we expect out of him.”
Freeman, the Blue Wave’s FOGO, ensured that the Wreckers had little possession time during a span of 29 minutes and 50 seconds between their third and fourth goals.
“I’m just trying not to think too hard about the whistle because when I think too hard I go early every time and I will lose the face,” Freeman said of his draw strategy. “I kept calm and carried on.”
Freeman said to be successful at his specialty a tempo is necessary. He contrasted tonight to two weeks ago against the Warriors.
“The game against Wilton in the FCIACs where we lost, we had so few faceoffs and they were so spread out that I couldn’t get into my rhythm like I did tonight,” Freeman said. “It definitely helps.”
Freeman had a tough stretch against several New York powers in non-league play but over all has had a solid season.
“In our league and in this state he’s done very well,” Brameier said. “He’s been one of the best faceoff kids and today Matt did an excellent job. He gave us the possessions we needed to allow us to do that kind of run.”
Freeman finished with a 10-5 edge on draws. Pokorny led the Blue Wave with three goals and an assist. Michael Minicus and Jackson Peters added two goals apiece. Andy Demopoulos made nine saves.
The loss ended an excellent season for the Wreckers under first-year coach Will Koshansky. They finished 13-6 and advanced farther than most expected.
“They give everything they’ve got every day,” Koshansky said. “They made a couple more plays than we did. It happens sometimes.”
Max Eigen and Derek Sale scored twice for Staples. Timmy Luciano stopped 12 shots.
“If we’re talking about expectations, yeah, it was a great season,” Koshansky said. “We want the standard to be to compete for championships every year. For me as a coach and what we are doing as a program, it was a great season. These guys built something special. They showed the town of Westport what’s possible.”
Now the Blue Wave is one step away from ensuring it ends the year with at least one postseason title.
“They beat us last time,” Brameier said of Wilton. “If there is such a thing as a revenge factor our guys should have it. But they’re also in a situation where they want to prove it wasn’t a fluke. You can only do so many mind games with these kids. They’ve got to step up and perform.”