Plot line: Top-seeded Darien did the unthinkable last season, as it ended fourth-seeded Cheshire’s 51-match winning streak in the Class LL final. Cheshire lost the core of its 51-match winning streak team, and although the Rams are still tough, Darien is the favorite in the Class. The two seed, Amity, split the season series with Cheshire.
Amity has been aggressive and plays good defense, due in part to Kat Helfenbein and Micaela Cardozo. Jaiden Williams has also done a fine job controlling the offense.
This Class is top-heavy and Darien should win it, but be on the lookout for No. 16 Shelton, No. 9 Fairfield Ludlowe and No. 10 Greenwich.
You should know: Although this Class could come down to Darien and Cheshire, the two cannot meet in the final again. The Rams and Blue Wave would see each other in the semifinals if both reach.
2. Something Different
Plot line: Class L could have been called the Farmington/RHAM Class the past two seasons. The two battled it out in back-to-back finals as RHAM defeated Farmington 3-2 in 2013 and Farmington got some revenge, topping RHAM 3-2 last year.
RHAM is the top seed and Farmington is five, meaning a possible third straight season of an epic match will only determine who plays in the final, not who wins it.
Still Class L has plenty to offer in No. 6 Bristol Eastern, No. 4 Barlow and an intriguing No. 9 Pomperaug/No. 8 Guilford second round match.
You should know: Maybe this year will be something different. RHAM, Farmington, or Bristol Eastern could end up in the final. If not, and if East Lyme doesn’t make a run for the title from the 10-seed, this will be the first year since 2008 when the one of the aforementioned four did not play in the final. In 2008 Darien swept Torrington in the Class L final.
Plot line: Woodland is coming off a Naugatuck Valley League title has won five straight matches. The Hawks are the top-seed and go into the Class M field as a favorite to take it. Still, No. 4 Waterford and No. 13 St. Joseph could be an entertaining second round match, if the Cadets get past Suffield in the first round.
No. 5 Granby could also put together another championship run, despite the top bracket being loaded with the Class’s best teams. In the bottom bracket, No. 7 Ellington, No. 10 Plainfield, No. 6 East Haven and No. 11 Killingly are all a threat to reach the final.
You should know: The last time Woodland won the NVL, 2013, it won the Class M final topping Foran 3-1. 4. The Most Competitive Class?
Plot line: Class LL is usually the best Class in most sports, with Class S typically being the least competitive. However, this season could be different as top-seeded Seymour, No. 2 Coventry, No. 3 Hale Ray and No. 12 Morgan highlighting arguably the most competitive Class from top to bottom this postseason.
Although Seymour dominated most of the NVL regular-season, Oxford ended the Wildcats’ NVL play in the conference’s semifinals. The Wolverines are No. 11 and taking on a formidable No. 22 Cromwell team in first round.
Hale-Ray ran roughshod through the Shoreline, not dropping a game until the ninth game of the season in a 3-2 victory over East Hampton and not losing a game until the 13th game of the year to Valley Regional. Also, Morgan, which played in the Shoreline final, is far from a 12 seed and could make another run to the title.
You should know: Although this Class could provide the most drama, typically the final does not. Each final match has ended in a sweep since 2006. In 2005 Morgan defeated Coventry 3-1.
5. Party like its 2004?
Plot line: 2004 was the last time two final matches went the distance. Bunnell outlasted Cheshire in Class LL and Coventry edged Haddam-Killingworth in Class S. Since 2004, there have been only eight final matches that have gone five games. Also, in 2012 and 2007 each final match ended in a sweep. This season Class LL and S could feature final matches that go the distance, as both Classes are flooded with talented teams throughout the bracket.
You should know: There have never been more than final matches that have gone five games. The CIAC expanded to four classes in 2004 and before ’04, the most five game final matches were two, dating back to 1981 when final scores began being kept.