Darien-New Canaan, Round three?
New Canaan scored a dramatic 12-11 win over rival Darien in last year’s Class L semifinals, ending the Blue Wave’s five-year reign as state champs. The Rams went on to beat Ridgefield 19-7 in the final and are the defending Class L champions, but Darien has beaten them twice this season — 11-10 during the regular season and 12-7 in the FCIAC final on Wednesday. The state’s top-ranked teams are on opposite sides of the bracket, so a third meeting would come in the title tilt.
Can Cheshire break the FCIAC’s hold on Class L?
The FCIAC has won all nine Class L titles since the CIAC switched to class tournaments in 2011, but while much of the attention is focused on Darien and New Canaan, it’s the Cheshire Rams who head into this year’s playoffs No. 1 seed. Cheshire (16-2), which has won four SCC titles since 2011, has had its CIAC playoff runs cut short of a state championship by FCIAC teams in each of the past eight seasons. This year, Cheshire beat No. 4 Staples 16-15 and lost to No. 8 Greenwich 13-12. The Rams could face FCIAC teams in every round of the state tournament, including a possible semifinal match-up with New Canaan. With elite stars such as Annie Eddy and Annie Aquavita, Cheshire is a prime player for the title.
Guilford rolling coming off first SCC title
Fresh off a a dramatic overtime win against Cheshire for their first outright SCC championship, the Indians head into the Class M playoffs as the No. 1 seed with a 16-2 record. Guilford has never reached a state final, but made it as far as the semifinals for the first time last season and could be ready to break through after winning the SCC crown. The Indians are led by seniors Nicolette Spotlow, Maddie Costantino and Nicole Tepley, junior Catherine Larrow and freshman Maddie Epke. Freshman goalie Sydney Widlitz just won the SCC tournament MVP. The team which knocked them out of the tournament last year, Daniel Hand, is the No. 17 seed this year and awaits in the first round. The Indians will face strong challenges from No. 5 Pomperaug (13-4-1), the SWC runner-up, as well as No. 2 Tolland (14-2) and No. 3 East Lyme (13-3).
Can anyone beat New Fairfield in Class S?
New Fairfield has its bid for an unbeaten season end with an 11-10 loss to the Staples Wreckers in the final game of the regular season, but the 17-1 Rebels are still the No. 1 seed and the favorite to win the Class S tournament for a third consecutive year. They boast veteran leadership from standout players such as senior goalie Rachel Mikolay and junior attack Katelyn Sousa, and are 13-0 against teams in Class M and S. Their top challenges will likely come from No. 2 seed Canton (14-2) and No. 5 North Branford (13-3), both semifinalists last year, as well as last season’s runner-up, East Catholic (11-5), which is seeded 11th.
Don’t forget the northern teams
The FCIAC and SCC are typically the favorites to contend for state titles in girls lacrosse, but several teams from northern Connecticut have had great seasons and are real players in Class S and L this year. Simsbury (13-3) is No. 5 in Class L, with Glastonbury (13-3) at No. 8, and in the Class S tournament, NCCC champion Canton (15-2) is the No. 2 seed, with Granby (13-5) at No. 9, and last year’s runner-up East Catholic at No. 11.