NEW CANAAN >> A fierce rivalry can set the stage for an exciting matchup in any high school sport. Add in some motivational factors and the excitement is raised to yet another level.
On Saturday at Dunning Field, the No. 1 Darien boys lacrosse team entered its game with Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference rival No. 2 New Canaan with a 34-game win streak on the line.
New Canaan had its own motivation in the form of revenge – it lost to Darien three times in 2014 in the regular season, FCIAC semifinals and CIAC Class M final, respectively.
In Saturday’s matchup, revenge was served.
Michael Kraus had four goals, including the game-winning goal, and goalie Drew Morris had nine saves, including one directly in front of him with 34 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, to lead New Canaan to a 9-8 win over Darien.
“This rivalry is so special, win or lose it’s fun,” New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said. “Some might think this might make up for last season’s losses to Darien. But this is a new team and we don’t want to dwell on losing to the same team three times. Our defense played extremely well today and Drew Morris made some very good saves.”
Brameier called the game a great high school sports event.
“For them, there was the motivation of getting revenge for three losses to us last season,” Brameier said. “For us, there was the motivation to keep our streak going. For these kids, a game like this just takes on a life of its own.
“It was a battle of possession time today. When we came back to tie the game 7-7, we had the momentum and had opportunities. You’ve got to give credit to both goalies who both came up with big-time saves.”
New Canaan scored the game’s first four goals. Kraus scored twice and Owen Toland added another to give the Rams a 3-0 lead after the first quarter. Justin Meichner scored on a hard line drive from about 15 feet out to give the Rams a 4-0 lead with 8 minutes left in the second quarter.
Darien chipped away at the lead and eventually tied the game at 5 on a goal by Jack Book with 1:46 left in the first half.
New Canaan took a 7-5 lead but Darien tied the game again. Kevin Lindley scored with 2:10 to go in the third quarter and teammate Colin Minicus scored 55 seconds into the fourth quarter to tie the game at 7.
New Canaan continued to put the pressure on Darien. A Ryan O’Connell goal with 8:43 to go in the game and a Kraus goal 43 seconds later gave the Rams a 9-7 lead.
Darien’s Ian Burgoyne made it 9-8 with 1:22 to go. Kniffin was in perfect position to tie the game with a wide open shot in front of Morris. But Morris made the big save with 34 seconds left and beat a Darien player to the line to hand possession back to the Rams, who ran out the clock.
“Scoring early and getting that 4-0 lead got everyone going on our team,” Kraus said. “At 7-7, we thought about the momentum swinging their way. But we just had to stay focused. Our defense did a great job and that was a great save at the end by Drew.”
Darien goalie Ryan Cornell had five saves.
New Canaan 9, Darien 8
(at New Canaan)
Darien 0 5 1 2 — 8
New Canaan 3 3 1 2 — 9
Goals: (DR) Jack Kniffin 2; Ian Burgoyne 1; Colin Minicus 1; Kevin Lindley 1; Jack Book 1; Riley Stewart 1; Tim Lochtefeld 1; (NCA) Michael Kraus 4; Ryan O’Connell 2; Kyle Smith 1; Justin Meichner 1; Owen Toland 1; Saves: (NCA) Drew Morris 9; (DR) Ryan Cornell 5; Shots—DR: 17; NCA: 14;
Team records—New Canaan 9-2; Darien 11-1.
- Video via MSGVarsity.com