Storylines to watch
One of the biggest losses in boys soccer will be that of traditional rivalries. The CCC will feel it the most with powerhouses Hall, Glastonbury and Farmington all playing in separate regions. The three schools have won the last seven Class LL championships and in normal times play each other twice in the regular season and often find themselves matched up late in state tournaments. In the FCIAC, Greenwich will not face arch-nemesis Staples while Danbury and Trumbull are also kept apart. Joining the FCIAC-East for one season is one of the best from the SCC in Fairfield Prep meaning the Jesuits will not play against any SCC foes. The SWC loses some juicy matchups too with Barlow and Weston in the SWC-South and Pomperaug and New Milford in the North. Tech schools will mostly not play each other after they all scattered, joining different conferences across the state.
With the postseason plans still unsettled the one thing we know is that there will not be state tournaments as we have come to know them. That pause is an unfortunate one for Hand who will not have that chance to win a fifth straight Class L state championship this season. Since there will not be state champions, the streak will survive until 2021 but that does little for seniors like Jason Wallack and Scott Testori who could have won championships every year they were in high school.
IN GAME SHAPE
With four weeks of conditioning and skill work prior to beginning formal practices Sept. 21, teams across the state should be in good shape. However, in all that time teams were only allowed to begin practicing with full team drills Sept. 21 and scrimmaging other teams Sept. 26 with the regular season starting Oct. 1. That is not much time on the field and for players lacking in varsity experience, the adjustment period might take some time. Since tryouts were largely done without the benefit of game play at practice, several schools will be keeping borderline players on practice squads where they can prove themselves during the season rather than getting cut outright.
Trumbull is hoping that any possible postseason would include a chance to defend its back-to-back FCIAC titles. The Eagles have played in the last four FCIAC finals, winning in 2019 and 2018, losing to Greenwich in 2017 and tying Greenwich as co-champions in 2016. Trumbull lost quite a bit to graduation but brings back All-State caliber fullback Carrigan Cullinan and midfielder Ethan David. Trumbull and Greenwich are in separate regions this fall and unless they play in a postseason situation, will not see each other this year.
In 2018, Weston won its first SWC championship since it joined the league in 1995. After losing nearly all of its starters from that team, the Trojans simply reloaded and made a run back to the SWC final, losing 2-1 when Pomperaug scored to win the game with 27 seconds remaining. This season, despite losing seven players from that team, Weston was feeling strong about their chances in both the SWC and Class M, according to coach Kevin Fitzsimmons. Fitzsimmons started making changes in the youth program when he took over in Weston in 2009. He felt this crop of players who came up in that system were possibly the best he has had. The team will be led by seniors Daniel Bello (D), Janak Sekaran (M) and Jacob Strouch (F) with a talented cast of seniors and juniors joining them. Of course, there will be no Class M state tournament and the SWC playoffs are not yet set in format, leaving Weston to play in the SWC-South region.
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