Boys Lacrosse

Video: FCIAC Boys Lacrosse Final Highlights: Darien 9, Ridgefield 5

After seeing a 34-game winning streak ended by New Canaan, which started a slump of three losses in four games, the Darien boys lacrosse team regrouped for what coach Jeff Brameier would call the first chapter of the important part of the season.

Jack Kniffin scored three goals to lead the Blue Wave to their second straight FCIAC title with a 9-5 win over Ridgefield on Thursday.

Andrew Pugliese was named most valuable player after dominating on draw controls, while Mark Evanchick led a stifling defensive effort.

FCIAC

Video: FCIAC Girls Lacrosse Final Highlights: Darien 13, New Canaan 12 (3 OT)

Put teams from Darien and New Canaan together and you are practically guaranteed a great game. When their girls lacrosse teams met Thursday afternoon in the FCIAC final, it became an instant classic.

Led by Elizabeth Miller, Catherine Granito and Kylie Murphy, the Rams, looking for their first title in 22 years, jumped out to a four-goal lead early in the second half.

But the Blue Wave, the three-time defending champion, rallied behind Katie Cronin and Laura Murphy to tie the score at 10-10.

The game was still tied at 12-12 after two overtimes, then in the third and sudden-death period, Darien’s Mariah Matheis came from behind a wall of players, took a pass from Anna Moorhead and scored for a 13-12 win and the championship.

Baseball

Baseball: Morin’s 12-Strikeout, 2-Hitter Lifts Wilton To First FCIAC Title In 20 Years

BRIDGEPORT — Though he has one of the state’s deepest starting rotations, there was no question who Wilton coach Tim Eagen was sending out to the mound for Friday night’s FCIAC championship game with Staples.

“JT is getting the ball, it is his game,” Eagen said an hour before the opening pitch. “He wants the ball.”

Then, in a performance that will permanently etch his name in league lore, Morin went out and threw a complete-game 2-hitter, striking out 12 in a classic 1-0, 8-inning win over the Wreckers at Harbor Yard.

It is the Warriors’ first title in 20 years and was quite literally delivered by a pitcher who surpassed the 120-pitch count for the second time on two days’ rest.

FCIAC

Softball: Williams Wins Pitchers’ Duel And St. Joseph A 2nd Straight FCIAC Title

FAIRFIELD — A repeat is in the books for the St. Joseph Cadets, along with a still-perfect record, as they bested the Stamford Black Knights, 2-1, in the FCIAC softball championship game Friay behind the game’s most valuable player, pitcher Nicole Williams.

“I was winning for my seniors,” Williams said. “I wanted to win for them so bad, I wanted to take them to state and win, and I wanted to make them go out with a bang.”

Stamford, which had not been to the FCIAC championship since the 2006 season, did not go down easily, especially after the momentum it was carrying from this year’s FCIAC tournament run and semifinal win over Darien.

Boys Lacrosse

Lacrosse: Darien Boys Use Patience, Girls Dramatics To Win FCIAC Titles

NORWALK — When Jack Kniffin tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee minutes into the start of the season opening game, the rest of his year was locked in uncertainty.

Fortunately, the junior attack healed on schedule, used the end of the regular season to regain his stamina and on Thursday night helped the Darien boys lacrosse team win its second straight FCIAC title.

Kniffin scored three of the Blue Wave’s first four goals to help them overcome an early 2-0 deficit and take a lead they would never relinquish. The 9-5 victory over Ridgefield required a methodical attack and a reliance on well-executed fundamentals.

“I was just happy I could be out here,” Kniffin said. “I think my teammates put me in a great position to score today. It means a lot. I have to help out the team and hold up my end. I had a couple of turnovers I’d like to have back. It is always good to help the team out getting goals.”

Baseball

Baseball: Wilton Rides Ward’s Pitching, Mistake-Free Play To First FCIAC Final In 20 Years

BRIDGEPORT – It is safe to say when a baseball team wins 17 out of 21 games and captures a regular-season championship in one of the best leagues in the state, it did a terrific job avoiding mistakes.

That trend ended, however, for Darien High School Wednesday night in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference semifinals against Wilton at Harbor Yard.

One baserunning error and a dropped infield pop doomed the Blue Wave. A solid pitching performance by Wilton’s Jackson Ward also played a key role as the Warriors won 5-1 and earned a spot in Friday’s 7:30 championship game at Harbor Yard.

Wilton, which last reached the final 20 years ago, will face the winner of Thursday’s 5 p.m. semifinal at Harbor Yard between No. 2 seed Staples and No. 6 Trinity Catholic. That was supposed to follow the Wilton-Darien game Wednesday but was postponed because of the threat of rain and rescheduled to Thursday.

FCIAC

Commentary: Tony Esposito And This Stamford Softball Team A Perfect Marriage

STAMFORD — Tony Esposito is not going to like this column. He is not going to like it because he is going to share top billing with his Stamford High School softball players, who sent themselves out on a mission and tomorrow afternoon will be playing in the FCIAC championship for the first time since 2006.

That’s right, it has been nine years since the Black Knights played for the title. They defeated Trumbull that year, ending a decade in which they were the league’s most decorated team, with four wins in five trips to the final.

Esposito doesn’t want his name on the marquee because in his world, “it is all about the kids.” Espo, as he is known to all, is both superstitious — a request has already been put in for coverage tomorrow by my summer intern, who covered quarterfinal and semifinal wins — and disdains publicity. He will try and avoid interviews, and will cut them off on the few occasions the recorder on your iPhone hits three minutes.

“You know what to say,” Esposito will say as parting words to a reporter before suddenly you see his back walking away.

Boys Lacrosse

Boys Lacrosse: Darien Scores Early And Often In FCIAC Semifinal Rout Of New Canaan

NORWALK — There was a moment early in the third quarter on Tuesday, when the New Canaan boys lacrosse team was trying to stay within striking distance of its FCIAC semifinal with Darien, when Rams scoring star Michael Kraus was positioned for an uncontested shot on goal.

And on most nights, against most goaltenders, Kraus’ shot would have ended up where so many of his attempts rest — in the opposing goal.

This time, Ryan Cornell, the Blue Wave’s goalie, watched intently and, as soon as Kraus released the ball, moved calmly to shag it out of the air.

On this day there was no solving Cornell or his teammates. In perhaps their most complete performance of the year, the Blue Wave rolled to an unexpectedly easy 13-7 win at Brien McMahon.

Baseball

Baseball: Polonia Pitches Trinity Catholic Past New Canaan, Into FCIAC Semifinals

NEW CANAAN – It could have just been his decades of experience coaching baseball that led Trinity Catholic coach Tracy Nichols to make such a comment in the bottom of the fourth inning of Tuesday’s Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference quarterfinal playoff game against New Canaan.

It might have merely been a gut feeling. Or perhaps it was as simple as knowing the mental and physical make-up of his best player, Randy Polonia.

But after New Canaan’s Kane Curtin led off the bottom of the fourth with a triple off Polonia with the host Rams already ahead 1-0, Nichols leaned over and announced to whomever might be listening: “If they don’t score this inning we win the game.”

Polonia made his coach a look like a prophet. He worked out of trouble, stranding the runner at third, then keyed a three-run fifth-inning rally with a clutch two-out, run-scoring single. The senior righthander and UConn recruit didn’t allow a runner past first the rest of the way as the Crusaders earned a berth in Wednesday’s semifinals with a 3-1 victory.

FCIAC

Softball: Stamford Earns First Trip To FCIAC Final Since 2006 After Extra-Inning Win Over Darien

FAIRFIELD — The Stamford Black Knights came up with big plays down the stretch in a semifinal game that lasted eight innings Tuesday afternoon at Sacred Heart University, which led to a 4-2 victory over the Darien Blue Wave and a berth in the FCIAC championship.

“I’m very proud. I’m very proud of our seniors. A lot of our seniors came through today — everyone contributed — everyone did their job,” coach Tony Esposito said.

This is the Black Knights’ first trip to the conference final since winning the title in 2006. They are seeded third and improved to 19-4.

After a quiet first two innings, the action heightened at the top of the third when an obstruction call advanced Stamford’s Lauren O’Neill to third base and kept Maria Zecena at bat. O’Neill scored the first run of the game off of Zecena’s subsequent hit, and the Black Knights took a 1-0 lead.