Notebook: Early Thoughts From Soccer, Field Hockey And Volleyball

Greenwich is off to a surprising 1-1-2 start after winning the FCIAC boys soccer title last year. (Photo: Gregory Vasil)

The FCIAC season is just about two weeks old and football fans seem headed for a familiar rerun the next two months. St. Joseph, Greenwich, Darien and New Canaan are the four contenders for state playoff berths. Their head to head games have long been circled on calendars; the Cadets after taking down New Canaan will try and make it two for two Saturday against the Blue Wave.

The subplot will be the battle for the best of the second tier schools. Right now Trumbull, Ridgefield, Staples and Norwalk look like the top contenders.

As far as many of the other sports, it is way too early to make declarations. A few patterns have emerged, but there appear to be a number of schools in the hunt for championships.

Here are a few early impressions from time on the sideline, checking out results and talking to coaches.

— The biggest surprise so far: it took until the fourth game for the Greenwich boys soccer team to earn its first win. A pair of ties were followed by a 2-0 loss to Darien. Then came Monday’s 2-1 decision over Fairfield Ludlowe.

Are the Cardinals down this season? It is just as likely that with a number of new starters they are taking a little longer than usual to develop cohesion. It is surprising they have scored just four goals so far.

The guess here is that Greenwich will be very much in the hunt come tournament time.

— The top of the boys soccer standings have a combination of the expected and some surprises. Staples, Trumbull and Darien are tied for first place with 3-0-1 records. The Wreckers and Eagles received plenty of preseason hype. The Blue Wave? Nary a whisper.

Darien has a win over Greenwich and a draw with Trumbull so it bears watching. Next up with nine points are Westhill and Norwalk. The Vikings are the only team without a loss or tie. The Bears seem to be in the hunt for the long haul.

Each year there is always a surprise team that makes a run and earns a high playoff seed. Last year it was Stamford. We have a few early candidates.

The Staples field hockey team is off to a 4-0 start. (Photo: Gregory Vasil)

— The three girls soccer favorites have jumped out to strong starts. Staples and St. Joseph were the picks of many and they are a combined 6-0-1. Defending Class LL champion Ridgefield, the other school mentioned most often as a potential champion, is currently in first place with a 4-0 mark.

Trumbull and Fairfield Ludlowe might be the two biggest surprises to date in that little was known about them a few weeks ago. The Eagles have a new coach and are off to a 3-1 start, while the Falcons are a point ahead at 3-1-1. Darien, which was hit hard by graduation, is 3-1. Wilton and Westhill have yet to lose.

It would be surprising if the league champion did not come from one of the three favorites, but the league appears to again be strong, with fewer chances for an easy three points.

— Has anyone been following the scores of the Wilton field hockey team? It seems to have made it a mandate to refute those who consider the sport boring.

The Warriors have scored 28 goals in five games, and yesterday’s 3-2 overtime win over New Canaan seems downright pedestrian. They have a 6-5 win over Norwalk and an 8-4 decision over Branford. They opened the season with a 7-2 win over Trumbull.

Wilton has to play Greenwich, Staples and Darien in succession, but leading up to those games is the chance to send us looking at the record books for most goals scored in a season.

— One of the biggest field hockey matches of the regular season unfortunately took part on opening day, with Staples getting a 2-1 win at Darien in a rematch of last year’s state final. The Wreckers are off to a 4-0 start.

— Before Darien dominated the sport starting in 1990, which school won the most league volleyball titles? The answer, with six, is Westhill. The Vikings under Winnie Hamilton had a tremendous rivalry with Fairfield Warde, which won five championships.

Westhill had pockets of success but in recent years hit a drought.

Volleyball may be the most difficult sport for prognosticators — a lot of top players graduated and there seem to be more question marks than usual — but one coach I respect told me a month ago that the Vikings have an excellent chance to win the title for the first time since 1986.

There are no superstars but a number of strong players. Unpredictability is likely to be the norm on the courts this fall, but keep your eyes on the Vikings.

 

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