NORWALK—It’s not easy for find phone booths in the 21st century, so Superman wasn’t going to come to save the day for the Darien boys lacrosse team.
Instead, mild-mannered senior goalie Sean Collins did the job.
Collins made four big saves in the final four minutes of play on Friday, including one by Walker Ker at the buzzer, to help secure the Blue Wave’s fifth straight FCIAC championship with a 13-12 win over arch-rival New Canaan at Casagrande Field.
“The ball was going back and forth and we knew we had to take care of business and win our individual battles,” Collins said. “I just tried to separate myself from the heat of the game. I wouldn’t say I had my best game, but everybody on this team picks up the slack and that’s what it’s all about. That’s what separates us from others.”
Down the stretch, though, Collins was at his best.
After Darien’s Hudson Pokorny scored the go-ahead goal with 4:50 left to play, Collins came up with four big saves—including one right at the buzzer that secured the Darien victory.
“I had a clean look at it,” Collins said. “It was down the alley and there wasn’t a lot of space to shoot and I sort of chicken-winged it and got it with my shaft.”
Considering Collins had to fight for the starting job during preseason, the title-game victory proved Darien coach Jeff Brameier can pick his players.
“Obviously, we’re very happy with his seasonal performance,” Brameier said. “Those were a couple of big time saves. He’s earned the right to be mentioned with all the top goalies who have come through the program.”
Going into the fourth quarter, Collins only had four saves, but after Darien’s Brian Minicus and Tanner Strub scored just nine seconds apart, the Blue Wave had a 12-8 lead.
The Rams, however, came storming back.
Over the course of 2:48, Nicholas Crovatto dominted the X and Quintin O’Connell and Owen Shin both scored two goals as New Cannan tied the game at 12-12 with 6:57 to play.
“They’re a great team and they’re not going to just give up because we’re ahead,” Collins said. “They have a bunch of great players and they came to play. They made it a dogfight.”
One final shot was blocked, however, leaving the Rams a goal short.
“We just couldn’t put one in at the end,” New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said. “This was a great lacrosse game. This is what championship games should be. They should be one-goal games. This was a special game and both communities should take great pride in how all the boys played on the field.”
THE COMEBACK KIDS
The four-goal deficit New Canaan faced in the fourth quarter wasn’t the only one the Rams had to overcome.
Tied at 3-3 early on, Darien went on a four-goal surge to take a 7-3 lead with 2:35 left in the first half.
New Canaan got it back to a one-goal game, capped by O’Connell’s falling down worm-burner of a shot that deflected off of Collins foot and into the net at the buzzer of the first half.
“We’ve done that a couple of times this year,” Buzzeo said. “We knew we had it in us. I’m just really proud of how we responded and never gave up.”
O’Connell finished with five goals for the Rams, who slipped to 14-5. Shin added three while Mackenzie Deane added two. Liam Griffiths and Ryan Caione added singlet tallies.
Crovatto won 18 of the 27 faceoffs.
Goalie Carl Mazabras made eight saves.
The championship game MVP award went to Darien’s Logan McGovern, who finished with three goals and four assists for the Wave.
“It’s a team award,” McGovern said. “Without all those guys making space, hitting their shots when I pass it to them, and moving without the ball; without them, this award goes the other away and New Canaan wins.”
Darien was balanced offensively as Pokorny also had three goals. Minicus, Henri Pfeifle (1 assist) and Jackson Peters all had two goals apiece while Strub had a single goal.
Darien also dominated the ground ball game with Straub scooping up four and Ryan Darby, Blake Sommi and Minicus adding three each.
It was Darien’s 74th straight victory as the Blue Wave ran their record to 19-0 on the season.
“That was fun,” said McGovern. “This is what you play for, right there. A nail-biter in the FCIAC championship game, coming down to the last shot.”
DARIEN 13, NEW CANAAN 12
NEW CANAAN 2 4 2 4—12
DARIEN 2 5 3 3—13
Records: Darien 19-0, New Canaan 14-5; Goals: NC—Quintin O’Connell 5 goals, Owen Shin 3, Mackenzie Deane 2, Liam Griffiths, Ryan Caione; D—Logan McGovern 3, Hudson Pokorny 3, Brian Minicus 2, Henri Pfeifle 2, Jackson Peters 2, Tanner Straub; Assists: D—McGovern 4, Pfeifle 1; Goalies: NC–Carl Mazabras (8 saves), D—Sean Collins (8 saves).