NORWALK – It was more than three years ago but Darien High School boys lacrosse star Logan McGovern remembers it well.
Darien at Greenwich. Greenwich wins in overtime. McGovern was a mere freshman reserve at the time and the only current member of the program to suit up that day. But he keenly recalls the dismal bus ride home when not a sound was made by him or any of his teammates.
McGovern vowed then that he never wanted to experience that feeling again.
And more than three years later, he still hasn’t.
McGovern scored five goals and added two assists tonight to lead Darien to a 17-5 victory over Wilton in the FCIAC semifinals at Brien McMahon High School. It was the 72nd consecutive victory for the Blue Wave since that fateful day in Greenwich in the spring of 2015.
“I remember it well,” McGovern said of the program’s last defeat. “The bus ride home was complete silence. Since then I have strived to not let that happen again.”
How exactly can a team win 72 boys lacrosse games in a row — with four straight league and state championships to boot — while playing in the state’s toughest conference? If you watch Jeff Brameier’s team win faceoff after faceoff and seemingly grab every ground ball, it’s easy to see how it was done. And that does not even include the Blue Wave’s high-powered offense, led by McGovern, who returned to the lineup after missing 10 days with an injury, and Brian Minicus, or their tough, physical defense, or the top-notch goaltending provided by Sean Collins.
“They’re a very, very good team,” Wilton coach John Wiseman said after tonight’s game. “They have the horses, they capitalize on mistakes and they are always putting pressure on you on defense, so your margin for error is slim.”
That’s a fairly good recap of the performance by top seed Darien (17-0), which will meet No. 2 New Canaan (13-4) in Friday’s final. The Rams advanced with a 10-6 win over Ridgefield in tonight’s first game.
“This year we have a lot of new starters,” Brameier said. “So I’m happy to be where we are.”
Despite Darien dominating time of possession in the first quarter, the Blue Wave rather surprisingly led just 1-0 two minutes into the second quarter. But then the blue tsunami hit Jack Casagrande Field.
With McGovern scoring four of his goals in the first half and Minicus adding a second-period hat trick, Darien scored eight goals in less than nine minutes to gain a 9-2 advantage and complete control of the game.
Darien opened a 7-0 lead with six goals in the span of 5:22 in the second quarter before No. 4 seed Wilton (12-6) pulled itself off the floor and cut it to 7-2 on goals by Dean DiNanno and Zach Zayher.
But McGovern negated those with a pair 13 seconds apart. Blake Sommi and Hudson Pokorny added first-half goals for the Blue Wave.
“I think in the first quarter we were just getting our legs under us,” Brameier said. “And it took a while getting used to having Logan back. He’s a real difference-maker.”
The Blue Wave did not relax after taking the 9-2 lead, outscoring the Warriors 4-1 in the third quarter and 8-3 in the second half.
“We were just unable to respond,” Wiseman said of his team’s fade over the final three quarters. “You’ve got to play for 48 minutes against them because they can. If you stop for four minutes, you lose.”
Pokorny and Henri Pfeifle added two goals each for Darien, while Thomas Hellman, Sommi, Matt Gould, Jackson Peters and Tanner Strub had one goal. Sean Collins finished with three saves in goal for the Blue Wave.
DiNanno, Brian Calabrese, Ryan McDermott, Zeyher and AJ Pykosz scored for Wilton. Warriors goalie Andrew Calabrese stopped four shots.
New Canaan 10, Ridgefield 6
In the first game, New Canaan combined a balanced offense with a great defensive effort to advance to the final.
“Our defense was phenomenal today,” Rams coach Chip Buzzeo said. “They consistently made stops and got the ball back to the offense. And the balance on offense was great. It’s been that way for us for months.”
Owen Shin and Quintin O’Connell each scored twice for the Rams, while six others — Liam Griffiths, Teddy Manges, Will Rechtermann, Nick Crovatto, Mac Deane and Matt Cosco — tallied as well.
“You can’t just focus on Shin or O’Connell or you’re going to get burned,” Buzzeo said. “We want to fill the boxscore with a lot of names.”
The second-seed Rams (13-4) broke open a 1-1 game with five consecutive goals in a 5½-minute span early in the second quarter, and Ridgefield was unable to recover.
“New Canaan played a complete game and executed for four periods,” Ridgefield coach Roy Colsey said. “They played with more energy throughout the game and when you do that the ball seems to find you.”
Greg Gatto and Ray Dearth each had two goals for the No. 3-seed Tigers (10-5). John Mathes and Weston Carpenter also scored for Ridgefield. Tigers goalie Daniel Parson had eight saves while New Canaan’s Carl Mazabras stopped five shots.