RIDGEFIELD — Ridgefield coach Roy Colsey’s strategy of using two lockdown defenders to contain his opponent’s top scorers today was executed as desired.
And against most teams, the Tigers would have come away with a positive outcome.
But not against Darien, which has too many resources and tapped them to come away with an 11-6 win, its 69th in a row.
Six different players scored, led by Jack Joyce with three goals, Tanner Strub dominated on draws and the defense allowed just one goal over the last three quarters, pitching a shutout for the final 18:11.
Asked if he would have expected a positive outcome after holding the Blue Wave’s Brian Minicus, who was marked by Noah Isaacson, to one goal, and Logan McGoven, still recovering from an ankle injury and shadowed by Luke Gaydos, to an assist, Colsey smiled.
“Yes I would have. Anybody would have,” Colsey said. “They’re phenomenal. Those two in particular are very, very, very good players. We knew what the deal was as far as limiting them and we knew that was going to leave other guys open, and credit to Darien. You don’t get to the point where you win 69 straight without having six guys who can contribute. We picked our poison but they did a nice job of figuring it out and the other guys stepped up. We can live with that.”
Strub, Blake Sommi and Hudson Pokorny each scored two goals, while goaltender Sean Collins stopped 10 shots.
“It was a real team effort,” Strub said. “It is not just those two scoring all of the time. It was good to see some other guys get some goals today.”
Strub altered the momentum by helping Darien, now 15-0, dominate time of possession in the second half.
The Blue Wave trailed after one quarter, 5-4, following the nicest goal of the day, a quick shot by Reid Kagan off a pass from Ray Dearth. Darien scored three straight times to take a 7-5 halftime lead, then broke the game open with goals after Strub controlled the first two draws of the third quarter.
Pokorny capitalized on the first, and then in the easiest goal he will ever record, Strub ran in uncontested and made the score 9-5.
“The attackmen said they were calling out no slides so I threw a little look to Brian and the defenseman slid over, so I went to the goal,” Strub said. “It was nice to win faceoffs. I made some smart choices not going to the goal through three or four people.”
It was a pattern Darien coach Jeff Brameier has grown accustomed to.
“Tanner, when he’s on, he’s on,” Brameier said. “Sometimes he’s making better decisions when they’re not sliding to him and made a couple of great goals, great ball fakes and stuck them, and he had a couple that he just missed. He was a difference today for sure.”
Weston Carpenter scored his third goal with 6:11 left in the third quarter to draw the Tigers (9-4) within 9-6, but they were blanked the rest of the game.
Discussing the high-scoring first quarter, Brameier said, “We’re very similar teams offensively. There are a lot of similar concepts. That was a little disappointing we didn’t comprehend what Ridgefield’s offense was doing to us because you see it every day in practice practically. To Ridgefield’s credit they’ve got some guys who can press the envelope, shooters who can score. We didn’t play as well as we are capable of partly because they’re good.”
If the continuation of Darien’s streak was the biggest story of the day, running second was news Colsey divulged afterward: Greg Gatto, the All-American midfielder who has not yet played this season because of a broken hand, will return for the final regular season game Tuesday against Fairfield Ludlowe to get ready for the playoffs.
“They’re one of the top three teams in the state,” Brameier said. “They’ve got a great goalie, Isaacson and Gaydos are as good as anyone defensively. If they get Gatto back it’s a whole different team because he’s an interesting nightmare matchup-wise.”
Dan Parson, the Tigers’ goaltender, was outstanding today, stopping 16 shots.
“I’m not surprised or disappointed. We’re a good lacrosse team,” Colsey said. “We’re improving, we’re doing everything we possibly can to narrow that gap but we don’t believe in moral victories or it was close. It’s a loss.”
Colsey finished his postgame interview with a show of respect for a program he hopes in 12 days to unseat as FCIAC champion.
“I think Jeff understands we’re chasing them in a positive way, in a very respectful way,” Colsey said. “I have a ton of respect for the Darien program, their community and I think it takes a village to create a team that good. Jeff is a big part of it, Darien’s community and their youth program supporting them and getting kids involved. They do a good job. I would be foolish not to want to emulate that and not to chase it.
“For a long time we’ve been right there and we have to figure out a way to get over the hump.”