DARIEN — When the new schedule was released, Henri Pfeifle and the rest of the Darien boys lacrosse team quickly scanned for one particular opponent.
And maybe for the first time it wasn’t New Canaan.
“We definitely had this one circled, Ridgefield, under the lights, Friday night,” Pfeifle said.
The Tigers ended Darien’s 76-game winning streak and run of four straight titles last June with a dramatic 9-8 win in a final that received national attention.
The Blue Wave did not have to wait long into the season to get a chance for revenge and capitalized on the opportunity. They scored eight unanswered second-half goals tonight to break open a close game and rolled to a 14-6 win.
Darien’s new winning streak is now up to three.
“It’s a new season. Clean slate,” Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. “The most important part is this team is starting to come of age a little bit. Early in the season to have that kind of explosion. Fourteen points against a pretty good team and one of the best goalies in the league and some solid defensive players. It was a testament we have some weapons.”
Both teams are integrating a number of new players, but some familiar names stepped up for the Blue Wave. Pfeifle and Hudson Pokorny each finished with three goals. Colin Ruppenstein scored twice.
“Coming out in the rain it took us a little while to get going and then we just started clicking,” Pfeifle said. “We kind of went off. Last year’s game we were kind of just in shock. I spoke to Hudson before and after the game and we knew it was going to be a big one this year.”
Darien was up 4-3 after a sloppy first half in which the goaltenders, Darien’s Andy Demopoulos and Ridgefield’s Daniel Parson, dominated.
Led by Matt Freeman and good pole work, the Blue Wave started a run of draw controls. Jackson Peters one-hopped a shot by Parson and Ruppenstein got his first goal for a 6-3 lead.
After Wes Carpenter answered for the Tigers, Pfeifle scored twice to start the 8-0 run. Ridgefield was held scoreless for 18 minutes and 20 seconds.
“Whenever you get the ball that’s always huge for the team and helps the offense a lot,” Pfeifle said. “It helps us control the game and do what we want.”
The Blue Wave’s vaunted transition game took over in the second half.
“Faceoffs and defensive matchups. It helped us get a little more physical which turned into our favor when we’re moving and running,” Brameier said. “And just start shooting. Parson had a tremendous first half. We could have been up more than one. It was a good second half, some combinations of things we’d been working on to prepare for the kind of defense that they do. Tonight we saw their man.”
Ridgefield coach Roy Colsey considered the outcome a building block.
“Some good, some bad. We’re a new team,” Colsey said. “We graduated really good kids and a lot of these kids were either watching the game in the state championship or on the sideline. That’s very different than being out there in the mix. We have to learn how to win with this group. It’s the very beginning of the season. We didn’t lose a state championship, we didn’t lose an FCIAC today. We lost a regular season game and we have to make sure we learn from it.”
Colsey’s son Ryan, a freshman, led the Tigers (1-1) with two goals.
The two goaltenders dominated postgame talk. The Blue Wave have had a long run of outstanding players in net, most recently Sean Collins.
Demopoulos, a sophomore, is off to a good start and had 11 saves tonight.
“He knew he was going to have a big spot to fill and he hasn’t let us down one bit,” Pfeifle said. “He took the role real well and it showed tonight. Some of the saves, you talk with the defense and say how did he save that? We put our hands on our head. It’s kind of crazy the saves he makes.”
Parson, with 13 saves, kept the Tigers close for as long as he could.
“Darien I think wanted it more, they hustled more,” Colsey said. “They shot the lights out of the ball. Thank god Dan had such a good game because it could have been 20.”