Greenwich boys lacrosse falls to Darien in battle of FCIAC top teams

Greenwich High's Kyle Foote looks to get past his Darien opponent during Saturday's game. — Avery Belicka photo

Greenwich High’s Kyle Foote looks to get past his Darien opponent during Saturday’s game. — Avery Belicka photo

In a battle of arguably two of the top teams in the state, the Greenwich High School boys lacrosse team was able to battle Darien High School tough early on. However the Blue Wave were able to dominate the second half of Saturday’s game and the Cardinals had no answers, as they fell 10-4.

“I thought Darien played well, but the biggest thing was that they played harder in the second half than we did,” Greenwich High School head coach Scott Bulkley said. “They had their legs for a longer part of the game and we didn’t. It’s a one-goal game at the half and it was close, but we never really got into a rhythm offensively and their offense did a great job moving the ball and getting good looks.”

The Cardinals were led by Jamie Paradise, who finished with two goals. Both Kyle Foote and Bobby Goggin scored the two other goals for Big Red.

Greenwich High School's Decker Curran gets through the Darien defense during Saturday's FCIAC lacrosse match-up. — Avery Belicka photo

Greenwich High School’s Decker Curran gets through the Darien defense during Saturday’s FCIAC lacrosse match-up. — Avery Belicka photo

“We were able to find the open guy and not turn the ball over for the first half and into the third quarter a bit,” Foote said. “It showed how deadly we were, but then we got away from our game plan and it hurt us. If we win more faceoffs, the ball rolls our way a couple of times and we clean it up, I think we will be fine. Hopefully we see them again. We are a good team and so are they. We will give them a hell of a game if we see them again. Hopefully the ball rolls our way on that day.”

The duo of Colin Minicus and John Reed were the force behind Darien’s victory, as each scored three goals. Peter Lindley added two goals.

“You have to give Darien credit because their offense played really well today and had a lot of off-ball cuts,” Luke Finneran said. “Our defense hung in there though and I think our offense should have controlled the ball more and give the defense a rest. Either way, it’s a game that we will learn from, get back to the white boards and practice really hard to try and play them again. We are still 11-2 and still hopefully going to be one of the top two in the FCIAC.”

The game was a battle of the top two teams in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference and early on it was anybody’s game.

Darien started the contest with a quick 2-0 advantage, as Reed scored 38 seconds into the game and Lindley found the back of the net shortly after. The Cardinals answered in the final seconds of the first quarter, as Paradise darted down the field on the transition game and found the back of the net going low and inside to cut the deficit to 2-1.

After the Blue Wave tallied its third goal, Goggin got an open look at the net and capitalized on the shot for the 3-2 score. Paradise knotted the game at 3-3 until 3:12 left in the half, as Gillespie helped Darien reclaim the lead at 4-3.

“In the first half, we were able to get a lot of shots and pass to a lot of open guys,” Finneran said. “We were moving the ball around really well. However in the second half we took a lot of selfish shots and weren’t as patient with the ball.”

The 4-3 score stood until halftime, but in the third quarter, Darien’s defense was forcing Greenwich into lower percentage shots and didn’t give the Cardinals any quality looks at the net. When Big Red wasn’t shooting the ball, Darien’s defense was forcing turnovers.

Big Red's Jack Nail races down the field during Saturday's game against Darien High School. — Avery Belicka photo

Big Red’s Jack Nail races down the field during Saturday’s game against Darien High School. — Avery Belicka photo

“We started to move the ball around well and get good shots at the net,” Bulkley said. “Darien has a good goalie, so we needed to get the shots on net. They got more high percentage shots in the second half. In the third quarter I thought we missed a few opportunities. We hit the post, hit the pipe and missed by inches a few times. If those go in, they could have been a little boost for us. They did a nice job getting nice, long possessions and a shot and that made us antsy and frustrated on offense. We need to do a better job preparing for that and taking high percentage shots.”

The Blue Wave outscored Greenwich 6-1 the rest of the way and took the Cards completely out of its game. A clean first half turned into several penalties out of frustration and out of its need to be more aggressive in order to gain control of the ball.

“They executed their game plan really well,” Foote said. “Their faceoff was good, but I think Mike Sullivan grinded for most of the game for us. I give him all the respect in the world because he battled.”

With the loss, Greenwich saw its five-game winning streak come to an end and fell to 11-2 on the season. On the other side of the ball, Darien improved to a perfect 12-0 record.

“We have been playing a lot of tough lacrosse recently and haven’t had a lot of breaks,” Finneran said. “I don’t want to make excuses, but a day like today was tough because it was really humid out. We wanted to get everybody in the game today, but it’s tough when the ball is in the defensive zone all the time.”

The past few weeks have been tough on the Cardinals. In the game leading up to Darien, Greenwich had a stretch where they played Lakeland/Panas, New Canaan, Chaminade and Bronxville high schools. The only loss was to Fairfield Prep, a 12-11 defeat and the first team GHS faced during the tough part of the season. All five schools are perennial powers.

While Bulkley is a firm believer that in order to be the best, his team has to play the best, a break in the action is still a good thing.

“We need some rest,” Bulkley said. “We’ve played a brutal schedule for a while and need to get in bed and rest. The flu ran through this team, but now we are coming out of it and guys need to get their legs back and get healthy again. It’s going to be nice that we won’t have such a tough four games in a row. We had a four-game schedule that was insane and we came out of it 3-1. I’m pretty happy with that.”

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