Five things to look for
• CIAC Class L – Darien vs. Cheshire part III?: The Blue Wave and Rams have met in the L final the last two seasons with Darien winning both times. Both teams have the talent on both sides of the ball to get there for another championship game rematch.
• Hand and coach Sue Leckey are due: Hand has had its share of exceptional talent over the years. The Tigers have been in four Class M finals since 1998 with the last appearance in 2010 but have never won the title. This season the Tigers are poised to make another serious challenge with depth in every phase of the game, including one of the top goalies in the state with Mel Rennie.
• More SCC fire power: In addition to Hand and Cheshire, new member Lauralton Hall, Branford and Guilford in Class M and Hamden in Class L give the Southern Connecticut Conference depth in the state tournament and any of those four teams can make a long run. The Crusaders have the best shot to go far as it mirrors Hand with their depth and talent front to back. Lauralton Hall is also on a postseason mission after losing 1-0 to Wilton in OT in the Class M final last season.
• Shoreline Conference always tough in Class S: North Branford, Westbrook, Haddam-Killingworth, Old Saybrook and Valley Regional all have their share of talent and will be tough outs in Class S. Since 2005, Shoreline teams have combined for five Class S championship appearances. H-K was Class S co-champ with Lewis Mills in 2005, North Branford beat H-K for the title in 2006 and H-K won the title in 2012.
• Wilton awfully tough in Class M: Three-time Class M champ Wilton, 14-3-1 this season, is loaded with talent again led by forward Megan Cunningham, midfielders Delaney Baxendale and Kristin Godin, defender Caroline Taverna and goalie Amanda Hendry.
Five players to Watch
• Kya O’Donnell, Cheshire: The senior forward missed the SCC tournament with an undisclosed injury, but returns for the CIAC Class L tournament. She is the fastest player on the team. Coach Eileen Gallagher said she uses O’Donnell’s speed “to lengthen the field and open alleys offensively.” She leads a balanced scoring attack.
• Mel Rennie, Hand: Considered one of the top goalies in state, Rennie leads a talented Hand team that is strong on both ends of the field. Rennie has nine shutouts and has only allowed two goals in the last six games.
• Jackie Brewster, Lauralton Hall: Brewster, a senior defender, leads a top-notch Lauralton Hall defense that has allowed only five goals this season and posted 14 shutouts.
• Kaeleigh Morrill, Darien: The Blue Wave can score in bunches, but Morrill will be the key if they want to win their third straight Class L title. The Darien defense allowed 24 goals in the regular season.
• Sarah Klearman, New Canaan: Two impressive performances in the FCIAC tournament makes this goalie a player to watch in the postseason. She earned a shutout over state power Wilton in the semifinals and made 12 saves in a 2-0 win over Class L powerhouse Darien in the championship game.