5 STORYLINES TO WATCH
Winning a state title is not easy. Winning three straight puts you among the all-time great teams, but four straight state championships? You have to go back to Staples winning five straight from 1969-1973 for the last team to accomplish what Hand hopes to do. The Tigers are certainly talented enough to do it, finishing the regular season at 11-1-4 before losing in the SCC finals to Guilford. Guilford is the No. 8 seed in Class L and would face Hand in the semifinals should both advance that far. Class L will not be easy to navigate with unbeaten Bristol Eastern along with formidable challengers Wethersfield, Wilton and Fitch, among the contenders.
Last season the CCC placed four teams in state championship games with Glastonbury winning its fifth title in six years in Class LL and Plainville taking home the Class M crown. A team from the CCC has won a state championship every year since 2012. This season, the top seed in both Class LL (Glastonbury) and L (Bristol Eastern) comes from the CCC. That’s not all, Wethersfield (12-3-1) is the No. 6 seed in Class L, while in LL the CCC has four of the top seven seeds (Glastonbury, No. 3 East Hartford, No. 5 Hall and No. 7 Farmington).
BIG BOYS IN LL
Twelve teams in the Class LL field have only three losses, while only eight teams in the division failed to qualify. Want to win it all? It will take more than being good, because everyone is good. The team that emerges from this fray will have to be tough, stay healthy and have the bounces, and whistles, go their way. Also, Glastonbury has no thoughts of giving up what it has won five of the last six years. The Tomahawks did not allow a goal in last year’s tournament and that may be what it takes again for a team to win in Class LL. Warde, East Hartford, Hall, Xavier and Naugatuck are just a few of the respected programs vying for the title.
FCIAC DRY SPELL
Norwalk won Class LL in 2012 and Ridgefield was co-champions with Glastonbury in 2013. A team from the FCIAC has not won a state championship since. The only team from the conference to appear in a final since then was Darien in 2015. Warde comes in as the No. 2 seed in Class LL with Trumbull No. 8 and Danbury No. 10. Wilton could be a threat as the No. 10 team in Class L. While the FCIAC has dominated on the girls side, the success on the state level has not been there for the boys in recent years.
Since 2014, Ellington has reached three Class M championship games, winning a title in 2014 with two runner-up seasons (2016, 2018). During that time, Ellington has reached at least the semifinals every season except 2015. The team enters the Class M Tournament as the No. 1 seed for the second-straight season after losing to Plainville 1-0 in last year’s final. Coming out of the NCCC, the Knights have not lost or tied a game in the last two regular seasons and is currently the No. 1 team in the State Coaches Class M/S Poll.
5 PLAYERS TO WATCH
MASON ASPHAR, WESTON
The senior striker has had a nose for the goal this season, routinely putting the ball on net with positive results. Asphar has speed and confidence on the wings, creating scoring chances both for himself and the other attackers.
NATE DILORETTO, BRISTOL EASTERN
Few teams were as surprising this season as Bristol Eastern. The team finished 14-0-2 with 11 of those wins coming via shutout. Anchoring a stellar defense was the junior goalkeeper who preserved more than one victory with outstanding work in goal for the No. 1 seed in Class L. DiLoretto and Eastern had shutouts in six of the last seven games of the season.
ALEC HUGHES, GLASTONBURY
Glastonbury wins with defense but, of course, cannot advance without scoring. The top threat up top is the UMass committed striker, Hughes. Using his height and speed, Hughes can finish inside the box with extreme accuracy using both his feet and head.
SCOTT TESTORI, HAND
The junior midfielder uses his height and footwork as not only one of the top scorers in the SCC, but also one of the best distributors of the ball. An injury slowed him down in the SCC tournament and his health will be vital to the Tigers as they make another run at a Class L championship.
DANNY VILLALBA, WARDE
The senior was a big part of the Mustangs undefeated regular season. Villalba is a skilled scorer when up top but often goes box-to-box working as much on defense some games as he does offensively. Warde has several top scoring options but Villalba’s height and athleticism makes him one of the more dangerous scoring threats in the state.