By Chris Goldberg
TopLaxRecruits.com, Posted 6/15/17
Darien (CT) boys’ lacrosse coach Jeff Brameier says his 2017 team actually embraced the challenge of being a No. 1-ranked team with a big winning streak this year.
“We have had the streak hanging over our heads, but the only people talking it were you (the media) guys,” said Brameier. “We weren’t talking about it. What became pressing – and I put it out there to the team – was that we were ranked No. 1 early in the year by Inside Lacrosse.
“I told them, ‘We’re ranked No. 1 and you’ve got it in front of you. We have never before been ranked No. 1. Now that you are ranked nobody can take it away unless you lose.’
“They just kept winning and at the end of the year in convincing style.”
Indeed, the Blue Wave did keep winning. It routed Cheshire, 16-3, Saturday in the Class L title game to claim its fourth straight Connecticut state championship and extend a three-year winning streak to 55 games, longest in North America for boys teams.
Also, Darien, which has been ranked among the top three teams in the C2C North America Rankings, run by TopLaxRecruits.com, is now tied for No. 1 with DC power Landon School. Both have finished undefeated seasons.
Darien was dominant in the post-season, winning all its league (Fairfield County Interscholastic Conference) and state playoff games by 10 or more goals except a 15-9 semifinal win in states over a strong Glastonbury. In Saturday’s title win over Cheshire at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, Kevin Lindley had seven goals and one assist, Logan McGovern scored four times and Tanner Strub dominated at the faceoff X while goalie Ryan Cornell only allowed two goals.
Darien plays in a league and region that has produced several teams (New Canaan, Glastonburym Ridgefield) considered quite strong around the nation. The Blue Wave also played a non-league schedule that included New York powers Niskayuna, Yorktown (Class B state finalist), St. Anthony’s and Manhasset.
The team’s last loss came on May 16, 2015 in a 12-11 overtime defeat to Greenwich – a defeat that came after Darien had the ball and a two-goal lead with 30 seconds to play. Three games earlier, Darien had a 34-game sin streak snapped. In fact, this senior class went an incredible 89-3 overall.
“We have a unique group of kids that are very smart,” said Brameier. “They are competitive and they are a nucleus of kids that have been on the big stage before. It’s kind of indicative of the town; it’s very competitive and many kids are multi-sports athletes.
“They have been on the big stage in football, or hockey or basketball seasons and I feel we have the routine down.”
Brameier said there were, amazingly, no letdowns this year.
“We only had two in-state games that were close, and otherwise we were clicking on all cylinders by the time got to the playoffs,” he said, noting Greenwich gave the Blue Wave a 12-8 game. “Some of our out-of-state games are bigger rivalries – like Manhasset (Battle of the Long Island Sound) and St. Anthony’s, Yorktown and Niskayuna. These are big games for us.”
Darien again had its standout players. Lindley (Loyola signee) finished with a school-record 134 points, Riley Stewart (Brown) was a force on defense and clears and the defense, led by Under Armour All-American Arden Cohen (Notre Dame) allowed just over 4 goals per game while the offense put up nearly 17 a game. In all, seven seniors are headed to Division I programs.
How has this group enjoyed so much success?
“I think it comes from confidence and just a belief in what we are doing,” said Brameier. “We have the players. Arden was a guy we didn’t have to slide to; he took away everyone’s best option. If people tried to take away Lindley and McGovern, we had others to scpre.
“The players don’t need me to be a screamer; we have a different approach with kids. We don’t come down on them. Kids make mistakes they know I know I am not going to ream them for making mistakes. That helps to get them to play and not worry about making mistakes. If you take a bad shot, learn form it, don’t stop taking shots.”