Commentary: FCIAC Stocked With Contenders In Multiple Sports

Anna Sivinski and the Staples girls soccer team will be in the hunt for an FCIAC title.

Last week, after a conflict caused me to miss covering the Staples-Trumbull girls soccer game, I made arrangements to do a feature on the Wreckers, who at the time had won all four of their games by shutout.

I set up the interviews and had photos e-mailed to me.

Then Trumbull handed Staples its first loss and I delayed the story.

Staples and Vaughan Piccirillo-Sealey hope to stay a step ahead of Greenwich and the rest of the FCIAC pack. (Photo: Matt Dewkett)

That will happen a lot this fall to those of us who cover the FCIAC. Football aside, if there is an early trend after two weeks, it is that there appear to be so many contenders and so few trophies.

Boys soccer is always among the most competitive sports, and this year the conference is jumbled. For the second season there was little preseason mention of Stamford, which is now just a point behind unbeaten Norwalk atop the leaderboard. The same goes for Westhill, which is 4-1-1.

Danbury, Staples and Fairfield Ludlowe are tied for the eighth-most points, and any of the three could win a championship next month. Bridgeport Central handed the Wreckers their second straight loss on Saturday, then tied Norwalk yesterday.

Greenwich, the top pick in the coaches’ preseason poll, is 4-3 after losing three of its last four games. Don’t go writing off the Cardinals quite yet. As their coach, Kurt Putnam, noted after yesterday’s 1-0 loss to Staples, this isn’t a year to worry about seeding or trying to avoid certain opponents. It is more about getting one of the eight playoff berths because after that anything can happen.

Girls soccer? This is truly a year of haves and have-nots. Six teams started today unbeaten or with just one loss. Five were still awaiting their first victory.

St. Joseph might have been one of the bigger preseason favorites in any sport, and that might still be the case. The Cadets are the only team without a loss or draw. Five of the six wins were by shutout. But that close 3-2 decision over Fairfield Warde gives the other contenders hope.

And there is no shortage of them. Two-time defending league champion Ridgefield was supposed to take a tumble after graduating seven starters, but so far there have been suitable replacements, as evidenced by a 5-0-2 record. Staples still only has that one loss. The same with Trumbull, Darien and New Canaan.

Ridgefield’s Lauren Thrasher will try and help serve her team a title. (Photo: Matt Dewkett)

Brien McMahon, which has been building with young talent, played Ridgefield to a draw last night. St. Joseph coach Jack Nogueira knows there will be no glide to a title.

After talking to several volleyball coaches during the preseason, the belief was the top teams from a year ago would probably be the same this year, just down a bit because of graduation losses.

And Ridgefield and Brien McMahon, Class L and FCIAC runners-up, respectively, are undefeated and in the hunt for what would be a first conference title. Unexpected was that Westhill and St. Joseph would also be unblemished at this point.

Greenwich has just one league loss, but so do Danbury and Trumbull, two schools that are more accustomed to pursuing glory on the basketball courts.

The Tigers have looked particularly impressive, and have one of the state’s best players in Caroline Curnal, but the Senators have not missed a beat since graduating one of the state’s best players, Meredith Pellegrino.

Greenwich’s Maggie O’Gorman is helping to lead one of the last remaining unbeaten field hockey teams.

Tomorrow’s field hockey game between Darien and Greenwich, two schools that have been dominant powers, is being billed as one of the sport’s games of the year. The key word is one.

While the two schools could be playing for a championship next month, the same is true of Norwalk, which is also unbeaten, or Staples, New Canaan or Wilton, each with just one loss.

The FCIAC has missed its football championship game. For fans of boys soccer, girls soccer, volleyball and field hockey, the race just to get to the finals should be almost as fun as the title games themselves.

 

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