Few teams in the tristate area have had more preseason anticipation about the injury status of two of its key players than Darien.
As we told you when we launched Year 3 of our preseason “Player’s perspective” feature, Duke University-bound senior attackman Case Matheis has been rehabbing his suffering a torn meniscus in last year’s state quarterfinals.
But Matheis isn’t the only Blue Wave major Division I recruit on the road back.
Cornell University-bound Tony Britton, one of the top senior defensemen in the nation, has been working hard to make sure he’s at 100 percent come the start of the season after suffering a hamstring injury.
Britton, a tenacious and athletic defender, was a member of the New England team that beat Long Island 10-7 in the finals of the Under Armour Underclass Tournament last summer in Maryland. Above, Britton is shown guarding Virginia-bound attackman James Pannell of Smithtown West in that title game.
Britton will anchor a Darien defense that will welcome in a new starting goaltender and two new starting close defenders this season.
Now, let’s get Tony’s perspective on the 2012 season:
What have you been doing to get ready for the season?
Unfortunately, I sustained a hamstring injury and have not been playing a lot of lacrosse. Instead I have been working hard to get back to where I need to be, with doing physical therapy and working out about four times a week. I look forward to getting back on to the field with my teammates and hopefully I come back stronger than before.
How does your schedule look, what games are you looking forward to most, and who are some of your scrimmages against?
Our schedule looks pretty good this year, I think we have a lot of tough out-of-conference games that will be quite challenging with Manhasset, St. Anthony’s, Yorktown and Torrey Pines (Calif.). All these games will be really tough to win and I am looking forward to these games and guarding some of the best players in the country.
As for our in conference schedule, I think New Canaan will be our biggest competition with all their versatility. They bring back a good chunk of their team from last season with perhaps the best goalie in the state in Tom Carey (Bryant University recruit).
But in my mind, the game I am looking forward to the most is against Wilton, which upended us in the state tournament last season. Nothing would make me happier than to avenge that state semi final loss.
What player or players on your team do you think will surprise some people this season?
With the graduation of our entire starting defense – aside from myself – I think players on the defensive side of the ball will make names for themselves and surprise a lot of people. It starts with Corey Eppley (Lehigh), who is super athletic and I think he is ready to take that next step.
Next, Tommy Lyons (Mount St. Mary’s) has perhaps the best stick skills of any defenseman on our team this season. He hasn’t gotten a chance yet being behind so many seniors last season and when he is given that chance this year I think he will rise to the occasion and turn a lot of heads.
Sophomores Sam Meyjes and Drew Barnard will compete for time at defense as well.
What do you think the team’s strength will be?
Our overall offense. There are so many returning starters that can change the game by themselves at any one moment.
Henry West (Cornell), Bobby Weaver (Princeton) and Case Matheis are all so talented. The midfield tandem of West and Weaver is perhaps one of the best in New England because of their ambidexterity and size. And Case is a proven game changer with his quickness and vision all over the field. I am looking forward to seeing all these guys play.
Jon Magnusson (Richmond) and Timmy Murphy (Gettysburg) will also make major impacts at midfield and attack respectively.
How do you view the race in your league and who do you think some of the contending teams will be?
The conference is always a dogfight the contenders this season will be New Canaan, Staples, Wilton, McMahon and Ridgefield. All these games will be really tough for us because we are going to be the team that has a target on our backs and everyone is going to want to take us down.
We cannot assume anything and nothing is given to us on a silver platter. Championships take time and effort and I think we have all the pieces in place to make a long run this year but we need to work hard every day and everyone on this team needs to be committed to repeating as FCIAC champs and getting back to the top of the state ladder.
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Player’s perspective archive
* If you’re a player from the region and would like to share your perspectives on the 2012 season, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can check out the more than 90 stories by clicking here.
* For a look at how schedules for teams from throughout the region for the 2012 season are shaping up, be sure to check out the “Schedules galore” thread.