Greenwich overcame a four-goal deficit on its way to edging Ridgefield in Saturday’s FCIAC lacrosse quarterfinals, then found itself five goals behind Darien, before mounting a fourth-quarter comeback in Tuesday night’s semifinals.
Yet this time, the Cardinals began their comeback attempt a little bit too late against a team the caliber of Darien.
Top-seeded Darien defeated fifth-seeded Greenwich for the second time in two weeks, this time registering a well-earned 8-5 victory over the Cardinals in the semifinal-round of the FCIAC Boys Lacrosse Tournament at Brien McMahon High School.
The Blue Wave, who pulled out a 9-8 win over the Cardinals last week, advanced to Thursday’s championship game of the FCIAC Tournament, where they will face third-seeded Wilton. The Warriors overcame second-seeded Staples in the other semifinal to earn a berth in the finals. Darien has won the title in six of the last seven FCIAC Tournaments.
Sophomore Brady Pokorny powered the Blue Wave’s offense, recorded a game-high four goals. Teammate Matthew Minicus, a senior, tallied twice, while Chrisitan Alliegro, a senior, had one goal and one assist for Darien, which led 3-2 after the first quarter, then outscored Greenwich, 4-0, in the second quarter to take a 7-2 advantage into halftime.
The Cardinals (12-6) received two goals apiece from senior attack Bryce Metalios and junior attackman Brian Collins. It was Collins that scored the game-winning goal in the final seconds in Saturday’s FCIAC quarterfinals at Ridgefield. Greenwich played well defensively throughout while limiting the high-scoring Blue Wave to eight goals, but had trouble scoring goals against Darien’s defense, and senior goalie Cameron Weibel (11 saves).
“We had a lot of great opportunities, a lot of shots on net,” said Metalios, who scored his 100th career goal for GHS this season. “But at the end of the day, we weren’t capitalizing on those opportunities. We were playing a little sloppy and we made a few too many mistakes. A team like this is going to capitalize when you make mistakes.”
Facing a daunting 8-2 deficit, Greenwich gained some hope when Metalios scored with just two seconds to go in the third quarter. Collins converted a shot from close range at the 8:28 mark of the fourth quarter, bringing the Cards to within 8-4. He scored again with 5:36 remaining, making it 8-5, but that’s as close as GHS would get on this night, as the Blue Wave made a pair of defensive stands in the closing minutes.
“We were having a hard time finishing shots at the right time to give us a little more momentum,” Greenwich coach Bobby Lutz said. “They just stayed ahead enough to play with more confidence. We needed to put more pressure on them so they would tighten up a little bit, kind of what happened in our last game.”
“We needed to make them uncomfortable and we didn’t do that until the end,” Lutz continued. “By that time, it was too little, too late.”
Senior midfielder Flynn Milledge gave Greenwich a 1-0 lead by scoring with 9:11 left in the first quarter on the squad’s opening possession. Darien evened the score when Pokorny gathered a ground ball in front of Greenwich’s goal and slid it into the net at the 6:08 mark of the opening quarter. Minicus snapped a laser past GHS senior goalie Charlie Zola from 15 yards out, making it 2-1 with 4:32 left in the first quarter, then Darien capitalized on another scooped ground ball with Porkony finishing in front, giving his team a 3-1 edge.
“I can’t deny that we had a couple of garbage goals and kind of made some scrappy ground ball pick-ups and got them in, but you take what you can get,” Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. “You play a team the second time in a row in a week, we went to double overtime with them last week, so this was a better step and I thought some kids played great.”
Metalios’ goal from 10 yards out cut Darien’s lead to 3-2 with 9:39 remaining in the second quarter, but the Blue Wave went on a pivotal 4-0 run to close the first half, getting a pair of key goals from Minicus in the process.
“A slow first half, that’s how it is,” said Greenwich senior midfielder/FOGO Quinn Warwick, who won seven faceoffs. “I can put this on myself, I didn’t have a good first half either. I was in my own head in the first half and I think so was the team. We were missing ground balls after shots and they capitalized. They were ready for all those small little mistakes.”
“They had three ridiculous goals and without those goals, it’s tied up,” Warwick said. “But that’ s lacrosse and teams can win off of that and teams can lose. We’re going to bounce back from that.”
Freshman attack Mikey Brescia assisted on two goals, Warwick had one assist, senior midfielder James Pilc had an assist and Zola was strong once again in goal, making 11 saves. Junior Matthew Trimmer gathered three ground balls and senior John Scarlata had two for Greenwich, which limited Darien to one second-half goal.
“You play a team the second time in a row in a week, we went to double overtime with them last week, so this was a better step and I thought some kids played great,” Brameier said. “Both goalies were hot and I think that was the difference. I think Cam had a really good day and so did Zola, so that kept it a low scoring game.”
Said Lutz: “They had two unorthodox goals and they’re the type of team if they start getting ahead and ahead, it gets out of control, so you want to stay pace with them.”
The way the CIAC Class L rankings are set up, Greenwich and Darien could meet again in the Class L Tournament quarterfinals should they both win their opening round games. The brackets have not been released though.
“I think we’re definitely still peaking,” Metalios said. “A lot of guys are stepping up and scoring. The defense is playing great. It just comes down to the little things – ground balls, sloppy passes. We never gave up the fight, so I’m proud of our guys. I’m proud of the effort and we never quit.”