Storylines to watch
These two FCIAC rivals have met in the Class LL state tournament final each of the last two seasons. Ridgefield won both times: 2-1 in 2017 and 1-0 in 2018. The Tigers also won the FCIAC tournament title last season. Staples has plenty of experience returning to make another state tournament run. So does Ridgefield.
Is any conference close to the FCIAC?
Imagine if the FCIAC was spread out throughout the four divisions rather than most of the teams sitting in Class LL? Five teams reached the Class LL state quarterfinals, and two reached the final (Ridgefield and Staples). There are 16 FCIAC teams in LL this season. The CCC and SWC are always good and the SCC should be improved overall, but the FCIAC’s quality depth is second to none.
Class M champ has new home
Lewis Mills dominated the Berkshire League last year -the team didn’t lose a game — en route to the conference title and then the Class M state championship. Now the Spartans move to the Central Connecticut Conference, the state’s largest. The team has plenty of returning talent, led by Morgan Sokol, to have a strong first year in the league behind first-year coach Kofi Remey.
Taking the next step
After losing in the first round in his first two seasons as head coach — both times on penalty kicks — Dave Dikranian has since helped lead Hand to three consecutive Class L state semifinal-round appearances. Will Hand make it four straight, and maybe advance it one round further this time?
Life after Mya
You’d be hard-pressed to have a better scholastic career than the one Mya Johnson had for Old Lyme. Not only did she set the school’s career record for goals (101) she also won four consecutive state championships in the Class S division, three of them outright. The Wildcats will still be a contender in both the Shoreline Conference and Class S. Who will be the program’s next go-to player when the team needs a late goal?
10 games to watch
Shelton at Masuk, Sept. 13, 3:45 p.m.: The reigning SCC champs beat the Panthers 2-0 in last year’s season opener in Monroe. Kacey Lawrence & Co. would like to avenge that loss.
Notre Dame-Fairfield at Plainfield, Sept. 14, 4 p.m.: Great job by these two teams setting up a non-conference, early-season matchup after Plainfield won in penalty kicks last year in the Class M state tournament quarterfinals.
Glastonbury at Farmington (Sage Park), Sept. 19, 6 p.m.: A good early-season road test for the CCC favorite Tomahawks.
Lewis Mills at Berlin, Oct. 1, 6 p.m.: Lewis Mills moves from the Berkshire League to the CCC and faces what should be one of its toughest regular-season games.
Suffield at Granby, Oct. 2, 6 p.m.: These two titans shared the NCCC title last season. Last regular-season matchup was a scoreless tie. Suffield’s last league loss was to Granby in 2011.
Morgan at Old Lyme, Oct. 2, 3:45 p.m.: Last year’s Shoreline Conference tournament champion (Morgan) versus the four-time Class S state champions (Old Lyme).
Masuk at Newtown, Oct. 3, 7 p.m.: SWC showdown under the lights that will have a huge impact on the league tournament standings.
Mercy at Shelton, Oct. 5, 5 p.m.: Rematch of the SCC tournament final, won by Shelton in PKs.
Ridgefield at Staples, Oct. 16, 4 p.m.: Speaking of rematches….these two teams met in the Class LL state final the last two years, both won by Ridgefield. Played to a scoreless tie during the regular season.
St. Joseph at Ridgefield, Oct. 18, 4 p.m.: Ridgefield has quite the week with St. Joseph making the trip to Tiger Hollow two days after facing the Wreckers.
2018 Champion: Lewis Mills regular season champion (no league tournament)
Favorites: Nonnewaug, Northwestern, Housatonic, Litchfield
Players to Watch: Christina Orsini, Litchfield, Sr.; Sydney Segalla, Housatonic Regional, So.
Outlook: With Lewis Mills having departed for the Central Connecticut Conference, the Berkshire is now wide open — and there really could be plenty of teams that have a chance to be the regular-season champion.
Defending Champion: Platt Tech
Favorites: Platt Tech, Windham Tech
Players to Watch: Kim Chiroy, Platt Tech, Sr., GK; Mina Millington, Platt Tech, Jr., F; Sofia Romeo, Windham Tech, Jr.; Amber Peterson, Windham Tech, Jr.
Outlook: Platt Tech has enough players back behind Millington (16 goals) and Chiroy (10 goals allowed) to have a legitimate chance at a three-peat. Windham Tech, which lost to Platt Tech in the CTC tournament final a year ago, returns most of its starters for a run at the crown.
Defending Champion: Glastonbury (regular season champion — no league tournament)
Favorites: Glastonbury, Farmington, Lewis Mills
Players to Watch: Morgan Sokol, Lewis Mills, Sr., F; Chloe Landers, Glastonbury, Sr., F; Olivia Mullings, Newington, Jr., M; Sam Forrest, Glastonbury, Jr., F; Allison Escott, E.O. Smith, Sr., D
Outlook: Reigning Class M state champion Lewis Mills joins the CCC. Glastonbury has long been the team to beat in this conference and with the UConn-bound Landers back among several others, that won’t change in 2019.
Defending Champion: Division I: Woodstock Academy. Division II: Stonington.
Favorites: NFA, Plainfield, Woodstock Academy, Stonington
Players to Watch: Kate Carelson, Plainfield, Sr., F; Izzy Newbury, Plainfield, Sr., F; Kayla Park, NFA, Jr., F; Linda St. Laurent, Woodstock Academy, Sr., M; Grace Nichols, Killingly, Sr., D
Outlook: This group at Plainfield has won three straight regular-season division titles, has advanced to three straight ECC tournament finals and reached the Class M state final last year, falling to Lewis Mills. Can Plainfield win a title this season? NFA, Woodstock Academy, Stonington, Killingly and even East Lyme all could be contenders come November.
Defending Champion: Ridgefield
Favorites: Ridgefield, Staples, St. Joseph, New Canaan, McMahon
Players to Watch: Caitlin Slaminko, Ridgefield, Sr., F; Maddie Fried, St. Joseph, Jr., M; Peyton McNamara, McMahon, Sr., F; Reese Sutter, Staples, Sr., F; Mia Gonzalez, Staples, Sr., D
Outlook: Ridgefield won the FCIAC and the Division I state championships last year. The Tigers beat Staples in the state final for the second straight year. Expect both teams to be in the mix for the league crown once again, along with St. Joseph, New Canaan and McMahon in what is the state’s best conference.
Defending Champion: Suffield and Granby (shared regular-season championship, no league tournament)
Favorites: Suffield, Granby, Ellington
Players to Watch: Paige Anderson, Suffield, Sr., D; Katie Davis, Suffield, Sr., F; Samantha St. Pierre, Granby, Sr.; Maria Nolan, Granby, Sr.
Outlook: Suffield returns virtually everyone back and hasn’t lost a league game since falling to Granby in 2011. Those two teams played to a scoreless tie last year and both went 15-0-1. Be hard-pressed for someone to break up this duo at the top. One point of interest: Suffield has granted head coach Dave Sullivan a leave of absence to watch his daughter McKenzie, a GameTimeCT all-state selection last season, play at Bentley University. Brittany Whiteley will coach the team this season.
Defending Champion: Watertown
Favorites: Watertown, Naugatuck, Wolcott, Holy Cross
Players to Watch: Morgan Dodge, Watertown, Sr., F; Nina Zwolinski, St. Paul, Jr., GK; Sophia Vescera, Holy Cross, Sr., F; Brooke Tracey, Wolcott, Sr., F
Outlook: Watertown loses its best player in school history, Meadow Mancini, the Gatorade State Player of the Year, to Sacred Heart University. But Watertown should be back in contention behind Dodge. Wolcott, Naugatuck and Holy Cross should all be in the mix as well. Oxford and Woodland could be a darkhorse contenders here.
Defending Champion: Shelton
Favorites: Shelton, Mercy, Hand, Amity
Players to Watch: Leya Vohra, Shelton, Sr,, M; Audrey Marin, Amity, So., M; Kayla Howard, Hand, Sr., F; Emma McMurray, Mercy, Sr., F
Outlook: Shelton looks to be in line to defend its league title. Mercy may take a step back, but still should be a league contender. And you can never count out Hand, which has reached the Class L state semifinals each of the last three seasons, or Amity, or possibly even Cheshire.
Defending Champion: Morgan
Favorites: Morgan, Old Lyme, Portland, Valley Regional
Players to Watch: Olivia Doering, Portland, Sr., D; Isabel Milardo, Coginchaug, Sr., F; Taylor Wyatt, Morgan, Sr., D; Kelly Talerico, Portland, Senior, F-M
Outlook: Portland returns eight starters and looks to be the slight favorite here. You can never count out Morgan, the defending champion and you can never, ever dismiss Old Lyme’s chances, even with Mya Johnson having graduated.
Defending Champion: Newtown
Favorites: Newtown, Pomperaug, Masuk, Notre Dame-Fairfield
Players to Watch: Toni Domingos, Notre Dame-Fairfield, Jr., F, Kacey Lawrence, Masuk, Sr., F; Karsen Pirone, Newtown, Sr., M; Susan Matthews, Masuk, Sr., D
Outlook: Newtown returns enough experience to be able to successfully defend its title behind Pirone, last year’s tournament MVP. Pomperaug and Masuk will definitely be in contention, as will Notre Dame-Fairfield. And you can never count out Immaculate.