The Darien High School Blue Wave, a powerhouse in boys lacrosse, hasn't lost an in-state game yet this spring. A perennial threat to win FCIAC and state titles, the Wave rolls over most of the competition in the FCIAC and Tuesday night's clash with Norwalk was no exception.
Darien built a commanding 11-0 halftime lead en route to a 17-3 triumph on the road, as the Wave improved to 12-2 overall. The Bears, now in need of two wins in their final four games to qualify for the state playoffs, stand at 5-7.
"We knew coming in that Darien was ranked in the nation for a reason," Norwalk Coach Chris McGee said. "Our goal was to try to win ground balls." The coach added that Darien was just too tough in that capacity. It led to ball possession, which led to shots, which led to goals ... and more goals.
Brian Gleason led the way with five goals and three assists, and Case Matheis had two goals and four assists for Darien. Norwalk's Ray Phillip had two goals in the defeat. Da'Quan Keel scored a goal, and Hunter Finneran and Jesse Levitt both added assists for the Bears.
To Norwalk's credit, the host Bears played hard and did what they could to try to get to loose balls and create turnovers despite being overmatched and outplayed pretty much from start to finish.
"We did some things well over the course of the game but we did it in spurts. We didn't do for extended periods of time," McGee said.
Of course, that isn't such an easy task against a tough Blue Wave team. "We knew Darien was going to put pressure on the ball all over the field," McGee said.
Going up against such a strong opponent does offer some advantages for the Bears. For one thing, the high level of play is a good tune-up for the postseason -- something the Bears are hoping to qualify for.
"It makes you want to improve. It makes you want to work harder," Keel said. "Some of our defense and our goalie put in good work and didn't let the score escalate too high."
McGee said the play of Keel, along with John Sornatale and goaltender Rob Romano, who faced more than 30 shots, was impressive. "Rob played well in goal. He faced a lot of shots," the coach said.
McGee wants to see his team find a way to win at least two of those four remaining games to extend the season but realizes it won't be easy. The Bears, following road games with Fairfield Warde and Staples of Westport Thursday and Saturday, will host St. Joseph of Trumbull on May 19 and close out the season with a non-conference game at home against Monroe's Masuk High from the South-West Conference.
"It's attainable. They've got to come to work and put their time in," McGee said. "It's a matter of playing with heart and playing with pride -- Giving our best 100 percent of the time in 100 percent of the games."
"I think we can make it," Keel added.