WESTPORT — In the past three games, No. 1 Darien has seen the No. 2, No. 4 and No. 3 boys lacrosse teams in the state. Next up is something else entirely, but senior defender Sam Erickson saw something in this third-ranked Staples team that fought the Blue Wave to the buzzer Thursday night.
“We were taken aback. That was a solid team, probably the most solid team we’ve seen all season,” Erickson said after a 10-7 Darien win at Staples. “We weren’t that excited in warmups, not really expecting to face what we just saw.”
But for a six-minute stretch in the second quarter, when Darien (5-0, 4-0 FCIAC) got some breathing room, the evening was pretty back-and-forth.
Blue Wave coach Jeff Brameier heard his players talking about being flat. Erickson mentioned it afterward, too.
“I think sometimes kids look for excuses: ‘oh, we’ve got to get up,’” Brameier said. “They weren’t flat. (Staples is) just a good team, kids doing good things. They’ve been around, the No. 3 team in the state, undefeated.
“That’s the pressure of being No. 1 in the state, high expectations. ‘We can step on the field and just play and beat them.’ ‘If we’re not beating them, we must be flat.’ I don’t believe that’s the case. It’s them playing well, us missing shots and J.P. making saves.”
That’s J.P. Kosakowski, the goalie for Staples (5-1, 2-1), who shone in an opening-day win against New Canaan and made 12 saves Thursday, a couple of which he seemed to have no business making. He more or less matched Andy Demopoulos, the Brown-bound Darien standout.
“It’s those spectacular one-on-one saves where you really think the ball is guaranteed to go in,” Staples coach Will Koshansky said of his goalie. “He makes that stop, I think a lot of our team feeds off it. Even our offense feeds off those big saves.”
Darien senior Jamison Moore assisted on all three goals on the run that put the Blue Wave ahead 6-3.
“I think we had a couple of unforced errors on the offensive end,” Koshansky said about that run. “Darien’s a team that will kill you in transition if you give that up. … They do a nice job of the backside guy cutting through on dodges. The backside of your defense has to be very dialed in, and we just weren’t a couple of series in a row.”
Both teams have some notable players out injured, including Darien attackman Holt Matheis, but freshman attackman Brady Pokorny scored three goals and added three assists, including a setup to Matthew Minicus for a back-breaking, man-up goal with 2.5 seconds left in the third quarter that made it 9-5.
Next up on Saturday at Darien is Brunswick at 1 p.m. (And Brameier wasn’t thrilled that the Blue Wave will get the Bruins coming off a loss, 7-6 to Lawrenceville (N.J.) School, on Wednesday.)
“I’ve been looking forward to that all year — the past two years,” Erickson said. It’ll be a fun game. Hopefully we can pick it up. … It’s the battle for Connecticut, a classic public-private rivalry. I know a bunch of those guys. I’m excited to get out there and battle.”
“Both goalies stood on their heads. Both defenses, the long poles in particular, played pretty well. Our offensive kids dodged well, got to shooting spots and then played catch with the goalie.” —Brameier