DARIEN — A defensive struggle morphed into a brief shootout before settling into an evenly matched classic between two of the biggest rivals and best boys lacrosse programs in the region.
Not surprisingly, it took overtime to settle Saturday’s game between Darien and New Canaan and a spectacular goal to decide it.
John Reed converted a brilliant feed from Ian Burgoyne on a bang-bang play 59 seconds into the extra period to lift the Blue Wave to an emotional and hard-fought 11-10 home win to remain unbeaten.
“It was just a play that we’ve been doing a lot in practice,” said Reed, who finished with 2 goals and 1 assist. “Ian dodged from behind and drew a guy and I was able to cut and stick the shot. It’s a great feeling, really special against our rival New Canaan.”
Peter Lindley and Colin Minicus each finished with 3 goals and 1 assist for the Blue Wave (9-0, 7-0 FCIAC), who overcame a two-goal deficit with three straight scores to take a 5-4 halftime lead, then saw the Rams rally from a two-goal deficit of their own in the final quarter.
Fittingly, those were the largest leads for each team.
“That was one of the best I’ve seen,” New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said of the latest meeting between the neighboring teams. “We’re going to play these guys again. We could play them twice. Two evenly matched teams in terms of personnel, so you’re going to see games like this.”
Kyle Cornell scored the first two goals for Darien after a scoreless first period in which both defenses dominated.
It was a stark contrast to the end of the half, when the teams combined for five goals in the last 2:10.
“Both teams stepped up today on both sides of the ball,” Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. “There was a little feeling out and Kyle Cornell got us going. The second half was just a super battle. Round one. I’d be very surprised if we don’t see each other again. Once, probably twice.”
Justin Meichner had a strong showing for the Rams (7-3, 6-2), with 3 goals and 1 assist. Michael Kraus finished with 2 goals and 1 assist while Harry Stanton scored twice.
It was the end of a disappointing week for New Canaan, the two-time defending champion, which two days earlier lost to Greenwich, another league contender. While the Rams were hurt by unforced errors in that game, they were much crisper against the Blue Wave.
“This is the type of lacrosse we should be playing,” Buzzeo said. “I hope we get better from here, and we should. You are going to lose games but as long as you learn from it. It is all about getting to the playoffs and being prepared for the playoffs.”
Minicus converted a pass from Will Hamernick early in the fourth quarter to give Darien a 9-7 lead. New Canaan answered with goals from Kyle Smith and Max Begoon to tie the game.
Mincius’ hat trick put the Blue Wave ahead, 10-9, but Meichner tied it on a great run from behind the goal with 2:17 left in regulation to force overtime.
The stage was set for Reed’s heroics.
“New Canaan is a great team,” Reed said. “It is always back and forth. We can’t look back. We’ve got a lot of big games coming up.”
DARIEN 11, NEW CANAAN 10 (OT)
New Canaan 0 5 2 3 0—10
Darien 0 4 4 2 1—11
NC—Justin Zeichner 3g, 1a; Michael Kraus 2g 1a; Harry Stanton 2g; Kyle Smith 1g; Robby Paul 1g, 1a; Max Begoon 1g; Cole Turpin 1a.
D—Peter Lindley 3g, 1a; Colin Minicus 3g, 1a; John Reed 2g, 1a; Kyle Cornell 2g, 1a; Jack Kniffin 1g; Ian Burgoyne 2a; Harry Gillespie 2a; Will Hamernick 1a
NC—Trent Nader, 10 saves
D—Phil Huffard, 12 saves