The lacrosse season is just over a week old, but it is going to take some efforts the rest of the way to surpass a pair of overtime wins 24 hours apart the past two days in terms of drama and import.
On Tuesday, the Greenwich boys team endured four overtimes before coming away with an 8-7 win at Ridgefield in four overtimes.
Then, on Wednesday, the Darien girls team rallied for a 10-9 overtime win against Garden City, one with historic significance for the program.
The Cardinals, by a slim margin, were mentioned most often by league coaches as the team to beat in the FCIAC this spring, though New Canaan is coming off back to back titles. And with Darien and Ridgefield, the favorite label is a tenuous one at best, and one Greenwich coach Scott Bulkley has downplayed.
“We haven’t done anything yet,” said Bulkley, five words he has used most often over the past couple weeks.
“Anything,” however, occurred on Tuesday at Tiger Hollow. In the rain and on the road, the Cardinals lost an early 4-1 lead, then in a back-and-forth contest saw the Tigers forge a 7-7 tie on a goal by Simon Mathias.
Little did either team know it would take four overtimes to decide a winner, as Greenwich goaltender Tommy Rogan and Ridgefield’s Brendan Winne took turns making sensational saves.
Greenwich’s Decker Curran finally provided the deciding goal — 26 seconds away from a fifth overtime.
“Thinking back as a player and coach, I never played four overtimes,” said Bulkley, whose career started at Darien and then took him to the University of North Carolina. “Maybe there was one double overtime.”
Bulkley said the way the win was accomplished ranked a very close second to the outcome itself.
“My goalie makes the team a lot better, and the way he played the whole game and the consistency, I was really happy,” Bulkley said of Rogan. “The defense played incredibly. When we were on offense, Ridgefield did a lot of stuff. They went man to man and zone. There were different defenses, which was good to see. They were making on field adjustments, they weren’t coming from the sideline.”
Asked if there was a lot of tension during the overtimes, Bulkely said, “I loved it. I was telling the guys in the huddle you have to love games like this. Not to be nervous but embrace it. We learned from it. Beating Ridgefield at Ridgefield is a huge step for us to get to where we want.”
A Historic First For Darien Girls
The state of the Darien girls program is perhaps best evidenced by a statement Dillon Schoen, its brilliant midfielder, made on Thursday morning.
“We are going to be an amazing team this year, and I won’t be surprised if we accomplish what we accomplished last year and even more.”
More? The Blue Wave won league and state titles a year ago, with just one loss.
But it was that defeat to Garden City (NY) that denied Darien perfection. Worse, it came after squandering a seven-goal lead.
All of which made the Blue Wave’s 10-9 win over the Trojans on Wednesday so uplifting. Darien, trailing by two goals with 3 1/2 minutes left, forced overtime on goals by Mariah Matheis and Emily Stein.
Hollis Perticone scored to give the Blue Wave the lead in overtime, and after Garden City tied the game, Stein converted a pass from Schoen for the team’s first-ever win in the series.
“This wasn’t just big for our team but for our program,” said Schoen, who finished with four goals. “It is a pretty big deal for us to beat them. Our goal every year is to beat the best teams out of state as well as in state.”
The victory was sweet not just for the Darien players, but their coach, Lisa Lindley.
“The girls really persevered and got it done, and I couldn’t be prouder,” Lindley said. “Last year’s loss, personally I take responsibility for it. I think I made poor decisions substituting. That makes this even more fulfilling.”
Lindley said she was especially pleased because she didn’t think it was her team’s best performance. But Darien got a great effort in goal from Kyra Gardner, who made 18 saves.
“My defense was huge,” Lindley said. “It wasn’t one of our prettier efforts, but the good news is we came away with a win and we will improve. We’ve got to keep working hard. Work hard on fundamentals and they need to get more game experience, and at the end put us in a good position.”
A position, perhaps, to be even better than a year ago.