DARIEN — It would’ve been very easy for the Darien boys lacrosse team to let emotions get in the way during its Friday night showdown against Ridgefield. This was, after all, the Tigers team that had defeated the Blue Wave in the Class L final last season, ending Darien’s remarkable 76-game winning streak.
In the end, the emotions were in control, and so was Darien.
The top-ranked Blue Wave broke open a close game with eight unanswered goals in the second half, rolling to a 14-6 victory over No. 2 Ridgefield in a steady rain at Darien High School.
Seniors Hudson Pokorny and Henri Pfeifle each had a hat trick for Darien, which had eight players find the net. The Wave did it all while running the Tigers’ offense to boot.
“We tried to make sure that the emotions from last year’s loss didn’t get the best of us,” Pokorny, a co-captain, said. “Coach B (Jeff Brameier) had a great game plan, we practiced a lot of what they were doing, so we thought we could beat them with their own offense. This means a lot, under the lights and in an awesome atmosphere.”
“Their guys shot the ball very well,” Ridgefield head coach Roy Colsey said. “My goalie, Dan Parson, played insane and they still had 14 goals, and they were running my offense. They called it ‘Tiger’ and that’s my two-man game, but it is what it is. Of all the teams that should be able to stop those shots, it should be Ridgefield and we didn’t. They ran it well and their kids shoot very well on the run.”
Darien (3-0) also received a great game from its sophomore goalie Andy Demopoulos, who collected 10 saves under a huge spotlight. Several times, he and Ridgefield goalie Parson traded great stops.
The defensive effort also featured long poles Tyler Strub, Pierce Hoyda, Sam Cragin and Connor Olson.
“He did a great job,” Pokorny said of Demopoulos. “He’s only a sophomore stepping in as a starter and he’s doing an amazing job. He’s got a great defense around him with Strub, Cragin, Hoyda, Olson, (Blake) Cellar — all these guys are doing an amazing job. They’re playing well as a team defense.”
Demopoulos is taking over as the Wave’s goalie from Sean Collins, who himself replaced three-year starter and All-American Ryan Cornell.
“It’s a big responsibility,” Demopoulos said. “So much of a legacy to hold up with goalies like Sean Collins and Ryan Cornell. It’s hard to fill in their spots, so this was good.”
Parson was also strong in goal for Ridgefield, shutting off several great shots by the Wave while making 15 saves.
“Dan is a tremendous leader,” Colsey said. “He’s a quiet guy, he doesn’t say a lot, but that’s how he leads. He leads by making saves and doing whatever he can for his team. He was incredible tonight. It could’ve been a lot worse if he didn’t play so well.”
“He was amazing,” Pokorny said. “We definitely had to pick our shots well. He made a lot of good saves low and a lot of good saves high. We stuck with it and were able to put it in.”
The Wave had an early lead at 3-1 as Pokorny scored twice in the first quarter, with Darien’s Colin Ruppenstein and Ridgefield’s John Mathes also scoring one apiece.
Darien never surrendered the lead after that, but the Tigers stayed close. The Wave led 4-3 at halftime and boosted that to 6-3 on goals by Jackson Peters and Ruppenstein to begin the third quarter.
Wes Carpenter answered for Ridgefield with 9:08 to play in the third, closing the gap to 6-4.
After Parson and Demopoulos made spectacular saves on consecutive plays, Darien took over the game.
Pfeifle scored back-to-back goals, the second assisted by senior co-captain Tommy Hellman, for an 8-4 lead after three quarters.
Hellman then ripped in a shot 1:17 into the fourth quarter and Darien was off to the races. Pokorny completed his hat trick with 8:07 remaining and after Jack Bogdan scored, Pfeifle joined his teammate with a hatty for a 12-4 lead with 5:35 remaining.
For Darien, the win capped a great first week in which they also defeated out-of-state rival Yorktown, while Ridgefield will look to bounce back after the loss.
“We played a pretty decent first half and a not so great second half,” Colsey said. “They definitely beat us to the ground balls. We know we’re coming in here with a huge target on our back and in the second half, they just wanted the game more than we did. Hats off to them. They came out, they performed and they played four strong quarters.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Andy Demopoulos, Darien. The Blue Wave’s sophomore goalie collected 10 saves, including several of the acrobatic variety, to help key a strong defensive effort for Darien.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time and this is definitely a big one because it was the team that knocked us off last year and ended that streak. We’re back and we’re ready to go to June 8th (the state final) again.” — Darien senior co-captain Hudson Pokorny