Photo: Dave Stewart / Hearst Connecticut Media
DARIEN — Fairfield Prep has taken down the giant.
The third-ranked Jesuits scored six consecutive goals overlapping the third and fourth quarters and upset No. 1 Darien 14-10 in the CIAC Class L boys lacrosse quarterfinals Saturday in Darien.
Prep held a six-goal advantage with five minutes to play, but senior goalie Sam Cargill said the Jesuits weren’t ready to celebrate until the clock hit zero.
“Not at all,” Cargilll, who made 12 saves, said with a laugh. “Me and my defensive guys, the whole time, until the final buzzer, we were saying ‘lock in, this game’s not over’, these guys can score 10 goals in a minute. That was our mentality.
“Darien — they own Connecticut lacrosse, plain and simple. We just wanted to come out here and show them how we play.”
— Dave Stewart (@DStewartSports) June 5, 2021
Fairfield Prep (14-4), the No. 8 seed, will face No. 5 Wilton in the semifinals on Wednesday.
It was a tough landing for the Wave (19-1), who were heavily favored to take home a second consecutive Class L championship. Darien was unbeaten against CIAC opponents, and had defeated the Jesuits 12-7 a month ago.
“Obviously, we have the bull’s-eye on our chest and a team like Prep comes in loose because no one is expecting them to win,” Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. “Our guys, everybody’s saying you’re going to win. It’s a mental thing. It’s hard for a coach to say every game is new when it doesn’t happen too often to us.”
Prep coach Graham Niemi said his Jesuits were “overpowered a little bit” in their first match-up with the Wave but felt this time could be different.
“I thought the second time maybe we could match the game speed a little bit better,” Niemi said. “We did on the defensive end for sure, and on the offensive end, we haven’t been scoring goals, but we played a lot better today. We shot the ball at a higher percentage than we have in a long time.”
Sophomores Marco Firmender and Peter Grandolfo had big games, with Grandolfo collecting three goals and two assists, and Firmender netting four goals.
Freshman Tim Shannehan scored three goals, including once with 7.1 seconds left in the second quarter to tie the score 6-6 at halftime. Senior Kyle Stevenson also had a hat trick.
— Dave Stewart (@DStewartSports) June 5, 2021
Junior Teddy Bednar was a huge factor as well, playing great on faceoffs to give Prep the edge in possession time.
“We did a great job winning faceoffs,” Cargill said. “Teddy Bednar was the key to that game today. Without the faceoffs, we wouldn’t have won that.”
For Darien, Jamison Moore had a hat trick and Matt Minicus and Connor O’Malley each scored twice.
Unlike many of their games, the Blue Wave was unable to build any early momentum. The score was tied after one quarter and at halftime, and Darien’s biggest lead was just two goals, a margin matched twice in the second quarter.
The Jesuits, on the other hand, quickly answered every time Darien knocked. After the Wave tied the score at 8-8 on consecutive goals by O’Malley and Moore in the third quarter, sophomore Maddux Little took just 12 seconds to put Prep back in front with a transition goal.
That started the Jesuits’ 6-0 run, which put Darien in a hole too deep to dig out of.
“All their offensive weapons came and clicked on all cylinders,” Brameier said. “Firmender really had all the answers, made probably 75% of his shots, and so did Grandolfo. They got on a roll and we panicked a little bit.”
“We played them about a month ago and they got up real early on us,” Cargill said. “Our goal today was just to not let that happen. We don’t think that they’ve been punched in the mouth early in a game before and that’s what we did today. That’s why we were able to keep that confidence level up throughout the whole game.”
“First of all, you feel for the seniors who didn’t play last year and now they get a chance to keep playing. This is our 20th game in 56 days. We’ve got 10 seniors and a ton of young players who play, and they’ve worked hard this year. For all of them, I’m so proud of the guys and we’re fired up to practice on Monday.” — Fairfield Prep coach Graham Niemi
No. 3 FAIRFIELD PREP 14, No. 1 DARIEN 10
FAIRFIELD PREP 3 3 5 3 — 14
DARIEN 3 3 2 2 — 10
Scoring: Fairfield Prep: Peter Grandolfo 3g, 2a; Marco Firmender 4g; Tim Shannehan 3g; Kyle Stevenson 3g; Maddux Little 1g, 1a; Henry Keller 1a; Darien: Jamison Moore 3g; Matt Minicus 2g, 1a; Connor O;Malley 2g, 1a; Matt Stein 1g; Daniel Lowe 16; Brady Pokorny 1g; Finn Pokorny 1a; Joe Cesare 1a; Goalies: FP – Sam Cargill 12 saves; D – Andy Demopoulos 7 saves; Record: Fairfield Prep 14-4; Darien 19-1.
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