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Blue Wave Make 10th Straight Trip To Lax Final

Posted Wednesday, May 31, 2006 by Bob Greeney, Stamford Advocate
NORWALK -- It has become an annual rite of spring.

Just as one can be sure of parades and American flags unfurled on Memorial Day, one can also be sure that soon after Memorial Day there will be an appearance by Darien High School in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference Boys Lacrosse Tournament final.

This year's appearance will take place tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. at Brien McMahon High School's Jack Casagrande Field as Darien beat Wilton, 12-9, in last night's second game of the semifinal doubleheader at Norwalk High's Sam Testa Field.

It will be the 10th consecutive finals appearance for Darien, which has copped nine FCIAC crowns since 1992.

The top-seeded Blue Wave will try to win a third consecutive FCIAC championship against third-seeded New Canaan, which nipped second-seeded Greenwich, 9-8, in yesterday's opener.

The Blue Wave improved to 17-1 with their 16th straight victory since a 10-8 loss to John Jay.

Darien, which was 23-0 last year and finished as the fifth-ranked team in the country, has won 35 consecutive games against Connecticut foes since an 8-6 setback to New Canaan in the 2004 state Division I semifinals.

Cooper MacDonnell and Ashton Hotchkiss each had three goals and two assists while Whit McCarthy tallied two goals and two assists to pace Darien last night.

Pete Johnson had five goals and two assists to lead fifth-seeded Wilton (11-7), which lost to Darien by a 17-3 margin during the regular season.

Johnson scored a pair of goals in the game's first three minutes, his second one giving the Warriors a 2-0 lead with 9:22 remaining in the first quarter.

But the Blue Wave then reeled off six goals in a span of 5:53 to take a 6-2 lead into the second quarter.

"At times we played well," said McCarthy, who had two goals and an assist during that pivotal six-goal spurt. "That (spurt) definitely helped us win. It helped us in the long run because they came back. At times they obviously had more motivation than us. That showed when they made their comeback. They came back at us pretty well. Give Wilton credit. They played very well."

Sam Spillane scored the first of his two goals to cut Darien's deficit to 2-1 with 8:44 left in the first quarterand start the six-goal spurt. MacDonnell's unassisted goal gave them a 6-2 lead with 2:51 remaining in the first quarter.

"Darien, in the unsettled offense, they are very good at that," Wilton coach Paul McNulty said. "They can all handle the ball, they can all run and they're all dangerous. They have the ability to make those great spurts."

The Warriors, however, displayed the character similar to when they overcame a three-goal deficit in the fourth quarter of Friday's quarterfinal game against Brien McMahon before rallying for a 10-9 victory.

Johnson made a pass from behind the net to set Mark Freimuth up for a goal that trimmed Wilton's deficit to 6-5 with 3:04 remaining in the first half.

But Ashton Hotchkiss and Spillane responded with goals to give the Blue Wave an 8-5 halftime lead and they held Wilton at bay the rest of the way.

"It's just a credit to our kids," Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. "Everybody was telling them this was going to be a cakewalk and they responded to a great challenge Wilton put up. Any time you play Wilton two times in a season, you know they're going to have an answer for you the second time.

"I'm proud of the way they responded to the two-goal deficit and I'm proud of the way they responded when Wilton chipped away at our lead. Our kids never panicked and they kept control. You have to credit (Wilton) for playing well enough to be in the game the whole game."

NOTES: It was a milestone victory for Brameier, who has a .776 career winning percentage in his 23 years at Darien after improving to 350-101 last night. ... MacDonnell is very close to becoming Darien's all-time leader in goals. He is second with 159, just seven behind Charley Howe.

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