GREENWICH — Darien finally had an open date. Brunswick was still willing. The big game between Fairfield County’s prep and public boys lacrosse powers at last came together Wednesday night at Cosby Field.
The final few minutes, at least, didn’t disappoint. Brunswick broke it open in the third quarter, then withstood the Blue Wave’s late charge to beat Darien 11-9.
“It was really fun to play them. I know, like, all of the kids on this team, so it was a good matchup,” said Brunswick goalie Christian Barnard, who is from Darien himself. “We knew they were going to be a good team and they’d never give up, so we had to be ready for that.”
Brunswick (15-2), seventh in the latest Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse national rankings, got one last Barnard save in the final minute to hold on in a game the Bruins once led 11-5.
The game came together late, after Trinity Catholic didn’t field a varsity team this season and the Blue Wave (12-4) suddenly had an end-of-the-year hole in their schedule.
“We’ve really never had an open date in the last 10 years,” Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. “I know the community, area, was clamoring for it. It’s a good test, public vs. private, whatever, Founders vs. FCIAC. It’s for bragging rights and nothing else. A little extra boost in your ‘national ranking.’
“For us, it was a chance before the playoff run to see what we need to work on and make sure we’re ready for the playoffs. We have to take care of the ball a little better, have to continue to work on our faceoffs.”
Brunswick’s junior faceoff man, Koby Ginder, kept winning those draws, particularly in the third quarter, when the Bruins outshot Darien 19-2, including 13-0 in shots on target. That turned a 5-4 game at halftime into a 9-4 lead.
“Having a good faceoff guy has always been so important. It can change the momentum of the game,” Brunswick senior midfielder Michael Gottlieb said. “We had his brother (Jordan) last year. He won most of the faceoffs, and now just getting his brother helped a lot. We saw today, getting the ball on offense, if we keep shooting, some of them are going to go down.”
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Darien sophomore goalie Andy Demopoulos kept it close with 18 saves.
“I thought we played pretty good defense, and obviously Andy was tremendous again,” Brameier said. “They were peppering him. They’ve got nine offensive players that are threats, so it’s a credit to them. They run two equal (midfield) lines. They pressure you from everywhere.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Koby Ginder kept winning faceoffs and kept Brunswick in control.
A SOCCER GAME BROKE OUT
Some early turnovers helped keep the score down; Brunswick led 1-0 after 12 minutes. The teams made up for lost time in the second, trading goals quickly.
Darien never led, and indeed never tied it, but the Blue Wave kept getting one back when the Bruins took two-goal leads in the first half.
“We certainly played well enough to be 5-4 despite that we must’ve had seven turnovers in the first half just clearing the ball,” Brameier said. “Credit to them. They rode better than anybody we’ve had all year, a very athletic, very fast team, and that was a difference.”
Darien, ranked first in the GameTimeCT poll of CIAC teams, completed its regular season and is on to the FCIAC and CIAC Class L playoffs. Brunswick finishes its season Saturday at the Berkshire School.
“I’m proud of this team. We fought hard to the end,” Gottlieb said. “Big games such as Hill and Salisbury, even though we lost, we came back from big deficits.
“I love the grit and the energy of this team. We’re 15-2, so we can’t complain, but we just show so much effort.”
“We knew they were going to do the picks up top and the giant sweeps, but we prepare by cutting off their strong hands so they had to force down, and that forced some bad shots. They’ve got some pretty good shooters. They snuck some in that I wanted back, but it doesn’t matter, because our offense stood out today. … (The Bruins’ shooters) kept pounding, and pounding and pounding, and eventually some of them had to go in.” — Brunswick goalie Christian Barnard