NO. 5 DARIEN (19-2-1) vs. NO. 7 STAPLES (14-3-0-1)
When: Saturday, Noon.
Where: Wethersfield High
Players to watch — Erica Blaze, Darien: The goalie made five saves in the 4-1 win over No. 1 Enfield in the semifinals and will be key in shutting down the three or four quality shots the Wreckers will likely produce. Christine Taylor, Staples: An impact player on offense and defense, she had both goals in a 2-0 win over No. 3 Greenwich in the semifinals.
Championship game appearances: Darien is making its 13th appearance with six L titles, including a co-championship with Staples last season, and four M titles. This is Staples’ third appearance with a co-championship last season and a runner-up finish in 1974.
What to look for: Taylor has been a catalyst on offense for the Wreckers, but the Blue Wave boast balanced scoring led by Mary Hellman, Sydney Schrenker, Shea van den Broek, Bridget Mahoney and Katie Elders. Here is the caveat in this game — defense usually rules when these teams meet in close and low scoring results.
You should know: Darien has a little more motivation here after losing 2-1 to Staples in the regular season.
NO. 2 HAND (19-1-2) vs. NO. 8 NEW CANAAN (12-8)
When: Saturday, 2 p.m.
Where: Cottone Field, Wethersfield High
Player to watch — Taylor Leckey, Hand: Many Tigers could be in this spot, but Leckey, coach Sue Leckey’s daughter, is the team’s leading scorer who also excels on defense and is the catalyst on penalty corners. Emily Greta, New Canaan: Defense has been a strength for the Rams led by goalie Greta. The Rams were dominated on offense by Branford in the semifinal, but Greta made eight saves to preserve a 2-1 win.
Championship game appearances: Hand is making its sixth Class M championship appearance with a title in 2014. New Canaan is making its 11th championship appearance with one Class L title and four Class M titles including the last two seasons.
What to look for: Hand boasts 16 different goal scorers and has outscored opponents 91-18 this season. The Tigers’ defense has also been a strength with defender Mackenzie Larson, midfielder Leckey and goalie Kylie Gargiulo among the top standouts. While scoring and finishing opportunities have been an issue with the Rams, their defense has been solid. If the Rams win their third straight title you can bet that Greta will be a key factor. Greta and Gargiulo have been impressive in Class M with both owning a shutout and allowing two goals each in three games.
You should know: In the regular season, New Canaan played one Southern Connecticut Conference team and lost 2-1 to Cheshire. Hand played one Fairfield Country Interscholastic Athletic Conference team and played to a scoreless tie with Darien.
NO. 1 NORTH BRANFORD (20-0-1) vs. NO. 2 GRANBY (17-1-1)
When: Saturday, 10 a.m.
Where: Cottone Field, Wethersfield High
Player to watch —
Jordan Regan, North Branford: Defense has been one of the strengths for the Thunderbirds led by their goalie Regan who has 12 shutouts. Marita Conroy, Granby: Defense has been the main strength of the Bears. Their goalie Conroy has 16 shutouts including three saves in a 1-0 shutout over Immaculate in the S semifinals.
Championship game appearances: The Bears are making their 21st championship appearance with 13 titles — 11 in Class S, one in Class M and one in the very first CIAC tournament in 1973 (no classes that year, just one overall tournament). The Thunderbirds make their fifth championship appearance with two Class S titles and one Class M title.
What to look for: The Thunderbirds have been dominant on both ends of the field, outscoring opponents 73-15. Among the top offensive standouts for the Thunderbirds is Amy Raucci who had both goals in a 2-1 win over Valley Regional in the Shoreline Conference tournament championship game. The Bears have outscored opponents 58-5. Among the top scorers for the Bears is Heather Salter who scored the game-winning goal in the 1-0 win over Immaculate in the M semifinal.
You should know: Granby finished the regular season with five shutouts and has three shutouts in the Class S tournament, outscoring opponents 8-0 in the S tournament.