Glastonbury Lacrosse Falls in Tough Semifinals Matchup

CHESHIRE-Glastonbury boys’ lacrosse knew that it was facing a very tough challenge entering Wednesday night’s Class L semifinal matchup against No. 3 Darien. The No. 2 Tomahawks would have to contend with a squad that went 13-3 during the regular season and won the FCIAC, the state’s toughest conference. The Blue Wave’s deep offense and outstanding defense matched up well with Glastonbury’s formidable units.

The Tomahawks gave everything they had in the semifinals, but they were never able to get on track against a team that was firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, it was facing a team firing on all cylinders.

Glastonbury was outscored 5-0 in the first quarter, and it continued to be all Darien from there as the Blue Wave went on to win 16-3. With the win, Darien (16-3) will face No. 9 Ridgefield (15-3) in the finals on Saturday, which will be played at McMahon High in Norwalk. The Tomahawks, who had not advanced to the semifinals since 2010, end the season 17-4.

The Blue Wave wasted no time grabbing momentum, scoring 53 seconds into the game when Jack Kniffin beat Griffin Jagel off a pass from Hudson Hamill. They then took a 3-0 lead just over four minutes into the game on goals by Riley Stewart and Hamill. Stewart beat Jael low and to the left, while Hamill threaded a shot through the defense. Kniffin and Jack Book scored Darien’s final two goals of the first at the 5:23 and 0:54. Throughout the quarter, the Blue Wave did a strong job of moving the ball around and setting up shots and pushed the tempo when it took possession, keeping the Tomahawks constantly on their heels.

While Darien’s offense was playing highly efficiently, Glastonbury’s was struggling mightily. It was rarely able to break free of the aggressive defense during the first despite possessing the ball the majority of it. Players were becoming isolated when they did get the ball, struggling to make good passes as a result. When they did get good shots, players were either inaccurate or foiled by Ryan Cornell, who made a number of impressive saves on the night.

“I think Darien’s speed really hurt us,” Tomahawks head coach Scott Hinchey said. “They swing the ball around well and ride you well. They’re a very detail oriented team. Things didn’t fall our way in the first. Shots weren’t sticking and their goalie made some big plays. I’ll give most of the credit to Darien for how hard they played.”

Hinchey elaborated on Glastonbury’s early struggles when asked when asked if they game planned against the Blue Wave.

“I think we dropped some passes early, and there were a few times when the ball popped out of our sticks or didn’t hit the net. We had a plan, and Jake (Madnick) did a good job on face-offs,” he said. “It’s just hats off to them, their offense doesn’t have a weak link and the defense played great. It’s hard to compete when they take advantage of lapses.”

Glastonbury’s defense played much better in the second, but its offense still failed to gain rhythm. It held Darien to two scores, the first by Hamill and the second courtesy of Tim Lochtefeld. Overall, the Tomahawks were more aggressive and forced the Blue Waves into difficult passes and shots. On offense, Glastonbury continued to be erratic and clearly had trouble with the defense’s speed. Its lone goal came on an impressive play by Drew Babiak with 1:59 seconds remaining in the half. The senior stopped in front of the goal before eluding the defense and beating Cornell low. The Tomahawks entered halftime trailing 7-1.

Babiak responded bluntly when asked to discuss Glastonbury’s early struggles.

“On offense, we struggled a little bit with our fundamentals. We weren’t fundamentally sound, and we missed passes and catches,” he said. “Darien is a great team, and they attack well on offense. I think our defense fell asleep a couple of times. We eventually bounced back, but I guess it was a little too late.”

Darien earned more breathing room in the third, scoring four goals to take an 11-2 lead entering the fourth. Colin Minicus scored twice, and Rock Stewart and Lochtefeld also scored. Glastonbury’s goal was by Mike Hawkins. He maneuvered through the defense and beat Cornell up top.

The Blue Wave scored five goals in the fourth. Minicus and Kniffin both scored to earn hat tricks. Babiak scored his second goal with 5:55 remaining. He ran from the sideline to in front of the goal and beat Cornell to his right.

“I think we adjusted and settled into the game after the first,” Hinchey said. “Unfortunately, we probably needed a few more goals to get our confidence up.”

Twelve players scored for Darien. In addition to the hat tricks by Minicus and Kniffin, Hamill finished with three assists and Lochtefeld scored twice. Cornell made 12 saves, while Jagel and Tim Zimmerman combined to record 12 for Glastonbury.

The Tomahawks had a very memorable season despite its tough finish, going 13-3 during the regular season and winning the CCC South title. Hinchey and Babiak had nothing but praise for the team.

“We’re proud of how far we got and the leadership and character we had all season,” Hinchey said. “We had a lot of great accomplishments, and I’m especially proud of the seniors and their leadership.”

“I’m going to remember every little thing about this team, from pizza parties to practices,” Babiak said. “We had highs and lows, but when we had lows we came together as a team. I can’t ask for better teammates.”

 

Alex Stromberg tries to prevent a pass from being made.

  Alex Stromberg tries to prevent a pass from being made.

Ronan Jacoby travels around the goal before attempting a tough shot.

Ronan Jacoby travels around the goal before attempting a tough shot.

Andrew Cendana slows down the offense momentarily before pushing the ball down the field.

Andrew Cendana slows down the offense momentarily before pushing the ball down the field.

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