For the Darien boys lacrosse team, the beat goes on ... and on ... and on.
Coming off a sixth consecutive CIAC Class M state championship, the Blue Wave may be better than ever. Earlier this month, Inside Lacrosse magazine ranked Darien as the third-best team in the country.
Remarkably, the Blue Wave, who were 19-3 last season, have nine players on their roster headed to Division I schools. Some of them are underclassmen who have made early commitments.
Darien graduated three of its top five goal scorers from last season: Brian Gleason (second, 42 goals), Brian Annecchino (tied for third, 34), and Alden Frelinghuysen (fifth, 30).
Most teams would take a hit losing that kind of production, but not Darien. The Blue Wave doesn't rebuild, they reload.
This year's Darien team actually may have more firepower than last year's squad, which averaged more than 13 goals per game.
Leading the way will be attackman Case Matheis, who is one of the top juniors in the country. An All-American last year, Matheis already has made an early commitment to Duke, the defending NCAA Division I national champion.
He went wild in last year's Class M title game, recording a tournament-record nine goals and three assists in the Blue Wave's 17-5 rout of overmatched New Fairfield.
The Blue Wave will be overwhelming favorites to win a seventh consecutive state title, but veteran coach Jeff Brameier, who is entering his 28th season, says his team will feel no pressure.
"Pressure is just what other people put on you," he said. "I don't think, as a program, we feel much pressure. We just feel like we have expectations. Every year, we want to vie for a league and state title."
Matheis, who pumped in 55 goals last season, is Darien's No. 1 scoring threat, but he will get plenty of support from three Division I-bound senior midfielders: Wyatt Keith (Lafayette), Graham Maybell (Villanova) and J.P. Walsh (Lehigh).
Henry West, who scored 34 goals as a sophomore a year ago, is another major threat.
Darien also figures to be strong on defense, which will be anchored by senior All-American Eric Parnon, who has commited to Maryland.
Senior Dylan Torey, bound for Quinnipiac, takes over in goal for 2010 All-American Andrew West, now in the Ivy League at Cornell.
As talented as the Blue Wave are, they realize there are no guarantees, as Darien was shocked by New Canaan 5-4 in last year's FCIAC championship game.
So if the Blue Wave need any added motivation, they can point to that game, which came after a 12-0 record in the FCIAC during the regular season.
Darien actually has found winning state titles easier than taking home league championships. As hard as it may be to believe, the Blue Wave have gone two years without an FCIAC crown, as Ridgfield captured the 2009 league championship. Darien's last FCIAC title came in 2008.
"We've been fortunate the last six years to accomplish our state title goal," Brameier said. "We've faltered a little bit in the FCIAC, so we want to get back to that."
Darien could get a good test out of the box as it opens the season on April 6 at home against St. Joseph, last year's CIAC Class S runner-up.