Photo: Dave Stewart / Hearst Connecticut Media
Andy Demopoulos smiled when asked why, out of all the positions on a lacrosse field, he chose to play goalie.
“I chose goalie because I was a little psychotic and weird in the head myself,” he said. “I think it’s going pretty well for me so far.”
That’s an understatement.
Demopoulos, who has committed to Brown University, is considered among the state’s top goalies, possibly the best, as evidenced by his selection as an Under Armour All-American on Wednesday. He is one of just four players from Connecticut schools, and the only one from a public school, to earn the honor so far.
He’s the latest in a long line of premier goalies for the Blue Wave, and many have had success at the college level, including most recently Ryan Cornell at Vermont, and Sean Collins at Colgate. Demopoulos played behind Collins as a freshman before becoming the starter as a sophomore.
“Throughout his young career he’s been a hard worker and he’s coming through a program that’s had a history of great goalies,” Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. “There’s a tradition and an understanding of what it takes to fill that position, and he’s learned from some of the greats.”
At 6-foot-3, Demopoulos is a commanding presence and that size eliminates a lot of space for shooters.
“He’s a big body taking up a lot of space so he’s not giving up square footage,” Brameier said. “Andy’s got the best hands that we’ve seen around in a long time and he’s still got room to grow, as they all do.”
Lacrosse goalies tend to take a beating. They’re not wearing the same amount of protective equipment as their ice hockey counterparts, and are attempting to stop a solid rubber ball often thrown at blistering speeds.
Nevertheless, Demopoulos took up the challenge as a youth league player and worked his way up to be a key factor for the state’s No. 1 program.
“There’s one goalie per team,” Demopoulos said. “Everyone’s looking at the goalie to make a mistake, it’s obviously pretty noticeable compared to the three defensemen. The reason I wanted to play goalie especially, was that it was something that took a little more than other positions, it took a little something in your head to click. It’s not a position many people can play and I like being a little different from my peers.”
Working behind long poles David Evanchick, Sam Erickson, and Oliver Bolton, among others, Demopoulos has put up some solid numbers in big games. His best performance may have been in the Wave’s only loss when he made 22 saves in a 9-8 defeat against Brunswick.
“The game was a testament to the high level of lacrosse on both teams, but was a showcase of one of the top goalies in the country as Andy Demopoulos had a tremendous day,” Brameier said after the game.
In tune with the traditions of Darien lacrosse, Demopoulos said that listening to Brameier during the pregame, postgame talks is something “we cherish a lot.”
“You can hear a needle drop in the room when coach Brameier’s talking after the games and before games,” Demopoulos said. “We truly look into every single word and every single sentence he says. We make ourselves better from that.”
Choosing a college hit a speed bump after he had verbally committed to Johns Hopkins. The school then “parted ways” with 20-year head coach Dave Pietramala, which eventually led to Demopoulos decommitting.
The Darien senior then found a home at Brown with coach Mike Daly, now in his fifth year with the Bears.
“I felt I fit in more academically and athletically at Brown,” Demopoulos said. “So the combination of the coaching change at Johns Hopkins and the great coaching at Brown made it easy to seal the deal at Brown.”
Brameier pointed out that with players repeating years after last season was canceled during the pandemic, Demopoulos will have a better shot at playing early in his career at Brown.
“It’s not like he’s going to just walk in and be a starter,” Brameier said. “But he’ll have a much better chance to do that as a freshman at Brown.”
For now, the Wave is focused on its usual goal of winning championships. In 2019, Darien was eliminated by Wilton in the FCIAC semifinals and New Canaan won the league title. The Wave came back to claim the Class L championship, beating Wilton 13-3.
The postseason begins on Monday with the FCIAC quarterfinals.
“It doesn’t matter if we lose a game during the regular season, as long as we end the season in a pile,” Demopoulos said. “If we win the FCIACs and states, we’ll be alright with ourselves and we’ll be able to sleep at night pretty comfortably.
“We’re excited for it, we’re practicing and we’re going hard, and hopefully we’re going to take home two rings.”
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