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Matthew Minicus has watched his brothers come through Darien and be the leaders for some very good Blue Wave teams. It’s one thing to see it from a spectator’s point of view, and it’s quite another to be the one to step in and be the one in the spotlight.

Michael Minicus and Brian Minicus, both of whom played at Colgate, and Colin Minicus, an Amherst alum, set the expectation for the younger Minicus as to what things would be like when it was finally time for him to help run the show. He stepped in admirably last year for the Blue Wave, but things always escalate when you’re a senior. When it came time for Darien to pass its first major test of the season, the Blue Wave never blinked.

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Darien got off to a hot start and the NLF’s No. 44 player in the class of 2022 punctuated it with a four-goal, three-assist performance as then-No. 12 Darien knocked off then-No. 11 Chaminade, 15-12, in a marquee nonleague game Saturday.

“It’s finally my turn to lead a team,” said Minicus, whose four-goal performance led Eclipse ’22 to an NLF national title in July at UMass. “I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. Last year, I had some experience, but I was a little quiet. Being on the field and being a leader is important because we need a coach on the field as well.”

Wins > Stats

Four-star sophomore Brady Pokorny (Eclipse) and senior Christian Alliegro (Eclipse / Navy) each pocketed a hat trick for Darien, which moves up to No. 8 in this edition of the NLF High School rankings. While it’s a fairly important part of an attackman’s job to put up points, you’re not going to find Minicus box score-hunting. Rather, he’s focused on doing everything he can to make sure the Darien offense is humming. He’s dialed in to getting a state title, a dream that was deferred last year with a loss to Fairfield Prep in the state tournament.

“Stats are great, but the team was working great,” Minicus offered. “We were moving the ball well. It’s mostly the same offense with a few changes and everyone loves it. In our offense, the middies go behind the cage sometimes. Attackmen can go up top. I can see the field well that way. The sets and plays are perfect for us, and my assists have been easy because everyone’s been open.”

The Blue Wave and No. 21 Ridgefield square off today at 4 p.m. in a battle of Connecticut’s top two publics.

NLF High School Top 25

1. St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) 6-0

The Friars head to rival Chaminade on Wednesday in a battle of top 15 teams. They secured a pair of blowout wins last week with four-star senior Michael Leo (Team 91 LI / Syracuse) and NLF No. 3 ’23 Owen Duffy (Team 91 LI / North Carolina) each racking up a dozen points. Patrick Carragher (LI Express / Penn State) buried hat tricks in both games, including a four-goal game against Kellenberg.

2. St. John’s (D.C.) 11-0

Business as usual for the Cadets as they’ve rolled, including a 17-6 rout of then-No. 5 Gonzaga. NLF No. 34 ’23 Jackie Weller (MadLax / Michigan) was lights-out at the faceoff stripe, while Mac Haley (Navy) drove the offensive outburst with six goals. Five-star sophomore Ryan Duenkel led a pair of blowouts last week with seven goals and five assists in two games. It’s looking like next Friday’s showdown with St. Anthony’s could be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game.

3. Brunswick (Conn.) 3-0

The Bruins finally got their season going and whoa boy, did they not waste any time in doing so. A 14-4 steamrolling of previously No. 9 Deerfield (Mass.) stood out, and they’ve held serve with ease in their other games. NLF No. 2 ’23 Leo Hoffman (Team 91 LI / Penn) and junior Will Coale (Eclipse) got the party started with two goals and two assists apiece. Jackson Wolfram (Prime Time / Brown) made his return to the lineup with a hat trick against Loomis-Chaffee.

4. Boys’ Latin (Md.) 8-1

The Lakers have ripped off eight straight wins since dropping their season opener to No. 2 St. John’s. NLF No. 3 ’22 Dom Pietramala (North Carolina) scored approximately six billion goals in the past two weeks, while sophomore Spencer Ford (Crabs) has also kept goalies turning and raking. Lefty sophomore midfielder Connor Sydnor (Crabs) is starting to rack up the points, too, giving Boys’ Latin another scoring threat.

5. Mount Sinai (N.Y.) 7-0

NLF No. 1 ’22 Joey Spallina (Team 91 LI / Syracuse) has 70 points. The Mustangs have played seven games. Ten points per game? Really? Spallina just hit the 400-point plateau for his career after a six-goal, three-assist day against Harborfields. Four-star sophomore Lucas LaForge (Team 91 LI) has 16 goals and eight assists, while junior Cole Marsala (Team 91 LI / Quinnipiac) is right behind him at 15 and seven. A 12-4 win over Comsewogue jumped out as an impressive victory. Big-time challenges with Bayport-Blue Point – a rematch of last year’s Suffolk County C title game – and Garden City loom.

6. Culver (Ind.) 6-2

The Eagles dismantled a pair of Ohio teams, outscoring their opponents 38-10. The goalie duo of NLF No. 62 ’23 Colin Vickrey (Princeton) and five-star sophomore Tade Wynn (West Coast Starz) has been outstanding. The tandem of sophomore Spencer Reagan (West Coast Starz) and freshman Tay Rodriguez have been winning faceoffs at a 70 percent clip.

7. Salisbury (Conn.) 3-0

8. Darien (Conn.) 2-0

9. St. Mary’s (Md.) 10-0

The Saints vault into the top 10 after continuing their winning ways. The most impressive win in that stretch was a 13-12 come-from-behind win over Calvert Hall. Nick Golini (Navy), Will Hopkins (Bucknell) and Jake Adams (UMBC) each had hat tricks against the Cardinals. A date with McDonogh looms.

10. Taft (Conn.) 4-0

The Rhinos are keeping goalies busy by averaging 14 goals per game, and NLF No. 30 ’23 Peter Moynihan is the ringleader. The Yale commit is averaging close to six points per game, while junior Bo Page has assimilated himself well to the Taft offense. The Haverford School (Pa.) transfer is putting up four points per game as the perfect complement to Moynihan. Mason Whitney (Eclipse / Michigan) has been a dominant force between the lines for the Rhinos. A showdown with No. 3 Brunswick is set for April 20.

11-25

11. Lawrenceville (N.J.) 6-2

12. Deerfield (Mass.) 3-1

13. Chaminade (N.Y.) 3-1

14. Salesianum (Del.) 3-0

15. McDonogh (Md.) 6-3

16. Archbishop Spalding (Md.) 7-2

17. Manhasset (N.Y.) 4-0

18. Georgetown Prep (Md.) 6-4

19. Hill Academy (Ont.) 2-3

20. Garden City (N.Y.) 5-0

21. Ridgefield (Conn.) 2-0

22. Malvern Prep (Pa.) 6-2

23. St. Ignatius Prep (Calif.) 12-2

24. St. Paul’s (Md.) 7-4

25. Calvert Hall (Md.) 8-3

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