There was no revenge. There was no devastating gameplan. There was not even an overtime.
There was only perfection.
On the backs of seven different goal-scorers, Darien completed its undefeated season yesterday in a 10-8 victory over New Canaan that showcased a late Rams comeback, which fell short after cutting a five-goal lead down to two. Wave sophomore Jack Kniffin recorded a hat trick and Ian Burgoyne collected two scores, as New Canaan was held to three goals over the opening 33 minutes. Darien senior Phil Huffard made a critical save and clear with 80 seconds remaining to effectively ice the game, after denying Rams sophomore Justin Meichner on a wrap-around try.
Huffard, who now heads to play for Yale men’s lacrosse, spoke to the undying focus of his team as the main reason it became only the second Wave group in program history to go unbeaten.
“In the past, I’ve been on really good teams, but I mean, you always kind of overlook a team or two there and then you’re like ‘Damn, we should’ve beaten that team, should’ve made that shot’,” Huffard said. “And this team really just took pride in finishing off everything. We didn’t leave anything unturned, and I think that’s our greatest attribute. We play as hard as we can until the final whistle and at least in this season it’s worked for us and we came out on top.”
Darien coach Jeff Brameier placed his tenth championship-winning squad as the best “in his history book,” noting the same type of dedication and a great quality of depth across the board. When asked how the Blue Wave was able to overcome archrival New Canaan for a third time in as many tries this season, Brameier pointed to his players’ execution of different tactics that snuffed out the much-hyped new gameplan the Rams had put in.
“That’s Huffard, and that’s us using a bit of a zone to shut out Harry (Stanton),” Brameier said. “He’s been the quarterback of their offense and their trigger-point. If you make him work and tire him out, they had to go to other guys. And they still scored some goals, but they definitely struggled against that look.
“It’s something we knew they hadn’t seen because we never used it. And they talked about how they were playing with new schemes and doing this and that. Well, we showed them a little new scheme ourselves. That came out well. And that’s what you tell the kids. Look, you’ve just got to play.
“We used their extra-man play and scored a goal on them … That’s the fun part of coaching lacrosse you get to breakdown film, you get to see what your opponents are doing and you get to see if you can out-maneuver them and if the kids can outplay them. And this year we out-played people twenty-three times, and they put themselves in the history books.”
New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo explained his team’s defeat as a matter of getting out-played in the middle quarters, when Darien worked to an 8-4 lead with only a dozen minutes left.
“The second and third quarter, they were perfect. And to be honest, they were perfect all day,” Buzzeo said. “It’s fitting that they played they way they did to go undefeated. That’s a very, very good team that has a ton of seniors that played phenomenal today. Our boys played well. I’m proud of how they came back and our seniors taught our young guys well. We had a lot of young guys that got big minutes in the lineup. We’ll be back.”