Though winning a state title is the ultimate way for a team to conclude its season, the FCIAC boys lacrosse coaches believe capturing the league championship is just as sweet, and even more difficult.
“The FCIAC is always the toughest league in the state and I always say winning the FCIAC championship is harder than winning states,” said Greenwich High coach Scott Bulkley, who guided the Cardinals to the league title in 2010. “You have to go through everyone in our league to win FCIACs, which is so hard.”
“It’s tough for anyone to argue that the FCIAC is not the most competitive league in the state,” said Wilton coach John Wiseman, whose Warriors claimed the Class M title in 2011. “To win the FCIAC is a great accomplishment. It really shows how strong a team you are.”
Darien reached the top of the FCIAC mountain last spring, garnering its 12th league crown by defeating Ridgefield in the finals. The Blue Wave are considered the team to beat, but Wilton, New Canaan, Ridgefield and Greenwich should be strong contenders for the FCIAC championship.
“You have to put your game face on every time you walk on to the field in our league,” Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. “New Canaan has the biggest returning group, Wilton returns a strong nucleus of players, Ridgefield won the Class L championship and Greenwich is always going to be in the mix.”
Brien McMahon and defending Class S champion St. Joseph are also teams to keep an eye on.
“We have the potential to be very good this season,” Brien McMahon coach Mike Epstein said. “We’re big, we’re athletic and our guys seem to be faster than they have ever been.”
5 Teams to Watch
DARIEN: The Blue Wave, who went 10-0 in the FCIAC a year ago, return prolific scorers in Case Matheis and Henry West. Senior Bobby Weaver brings plenty of scoring punch to the midfield, while senior captain Tony Britton leads the defense.
RIDGEFIELD: The Tigers, who edged Fairfield Prep 11-10 for the Class L title in 2011, should be bolstered by the return of Sean Riley, Sean Wilkinson, Brendan Bossidy and Eric Scala.
NEW CANAAN: The Rams have a senior-laden team with a top-notch goalie and firepower on offense.
WILTON: The Warriors, who have 12 FCIAC championships to their ledger, have a dynamic group of attackmen with seniors Chris Nugent and Matt Kobrya leading the way.
GREENWICH: The Cardinals are inexperienced, yet have a lot of talent at each position.
Top 5 Offensive Players
Case Matheis, Darien: The Duke-bound senior attack is back in form after tearing the lateral meniscus in his knee during the state quarterfinals last season. The All-American selection amassed 120 goals and 94 assists his first three seasons.
Henry West, Darien: A second-team All-FCIAC selection, West will play at Cornell next spring.
Matt Blasco, New Canaan: The senior, who is headed to St. Joseph’s, tallied 58 goals and 21 assists for the Rams a year ago and is described by coach Alex Whitten as the “team’s most explosive player.”
Alex Moeser, Greenwich: The junior midfielder, who has already verbally commited to play at Hofstra, will be relied upon to power the young Cardinals.
Zach Bartolo, Brien McMahon: A junior attackman, Bartolo should have a breakout season. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has made a verbal commitment to Notre Dame.
Top 5 Defensive Players
Tony Britton, Darien: Regarded as the premier defender in the area, Britton, a first-team All-FCIAC selection last season, will play at Cornell next year.
Kevin McDonough, New Canaan: The Rams are considered one of the best defensive teams in the FCIAC and the University of Pennsylvania-bound McDonough is a reason why.
Eric Persky, New Canaan: Like McDonough, Persky was an All-FCIAC second-team member.
Jack Harrington, Greenwich: The 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore has already verbally committed to Duke.
Tom Carey, New Canaan: Balls will have a tough time finding the back of the net with Carey between the pipes. “Tom is a tremendous ball stopper and a great athlete in goal,” Whitten said. “He is one of the best stoppers in the state.”
5 Games to Watch
GREENWICH AT RIDGEFIELD, APRIL 4, 6 P.M.: The Cardinals and Tigers rivalry has picked up recently. Greenwich beat Ridgefield in the FCIAC quarterfinals in 2010 and edged the Tigers 8-7 last year in the regular season. But Ridgefield upended GHS 10-5 in the FCIAC semifinals.
NEW CANAAN AT WILTON, APRIL 5, 7 P.M.: A rematch of the 2011 Class M championship, which the Warriors won 12-2, could be a lot closer this time.
DARIEN AT WILTON, APRIL 12, 6 P.M.: The Warriors were eliminated by the Blue Wave in the FCIAC semifinals, but returned the favor, defeating Darien in the semifinal round of the Class M Tournament.
NEW CANAAN AT DARIEN, APRIL 17, 4:30 P.M.: It will be interesting to see how these arch-rivals match up, as the Blue Wave have a load of talent offensively and the Rams are sound defensively.
DARIEN AT RIDGEFIELD, MAY 8, 6 P.M.: Darien beat Ridgefield 10-7 for its 12th FCIAC title last June.
Top players by team
Brien McMahon: Drew D’Antonio, Jr. A; Zach Bartolo Jr. A; Greg Watson, Sr. A; Ryan Scott, Sr. MF; Damien Vega, Sr. MF; Henry Todd, Sr. MF; Marcel Abonyi, Sr. Oliver Lowe, Sr.
Darien: Case Matheis, Sr. A; Henry West, Sr. MF; Tony Britton, Sr. D; Bobby Weaver, Sr. MF; Tim Murphy, Sr. MF; Jon Magnusson, Sr. MF; Cory Eppley, Sr. MF; Tommy Lyons, Sr. D; Phil Huffard, So. G
Fairfield Warde: Joey Marx, Sr. MF; Jason Nerreau, So. G; Matt Petroccio, Jr. MF; Chris Foley, Sr. MF; Kyle Sheetz, So. MF; Jake Freilich Sr. MF; Cooper Wicke Sr. A
Greenwich: Alex Moeser, Jr. MF; Ryan Fisher, Sr. G; Dan Griffin, Jr. D; Jack Harrington, So. D; Will Gibian, Jr. A; Kyle Foote, So. MF; Tim Swaby, Sr. MF
New Canaan: Tom Carey, Sr. G; Kevin McDonough, Sr. D; Peter Kraus, Sr. A; Michael Bossidy, Sr. A; Bobby Distler, Sr. MF; Matt Blasco, Sr.MF/A; Wes Rhudy, Sr. MF; Jack Bratches, Sr. A; Eric Persky, Jr. D
Norwalk: Derick Edwards, Sr. MF; Da’Quan Keel, Sr. A; Patrick Whalen, Sr. D; Steven Grimm, Jr. A; Tyler Hiller, Sr. D; Jon Wilkins, Sr. MF; Cam Prescott, Sr. MF; Danny Jakab, Jr. MF; Luke Sweeney, Jr. D
Ridgefield: Sean Riley, Sean Wilkinson, Brendan Bossidy, Eric Scala.
Stamford: Greg Lupinacci, Sr. MF; Steven Samela, Sr., MF; Mike Gaizler, So. A; Tamarie Sterling, Jr. MF; Matt McGoldrick, So. D; Devin Camlin, So. G; Alex Sanchez, Jr. MF
Staples: Jake Frimet, Sr. MF; Peter Paul, Sr. A; Quinn Mendelson, Jr. D; Adam Levinson, Sr. D; Joey Zelkowitz, Jr. MF
St. Joseph: Brian Bacarella, Sr. A; Ryan Mulligan, Jr. MF; Zach Ryan, Sr. MF; A.J. Aitoro, Sr. G; Kevin Izzo, Sr. D; Zach Psaras, Jr. MF
Trumbull: Pat Lomnitzer, Sr. A; A.J. DiMasi, Jr. MF; Spencer Ryan, Sr., MF; Tom Dunne, Sr. Matt Gasper, Sr. D; Matt Kelly, Sr. D; Zach Taylor, Sr. D
Wilton: Chris Nugent, Sr. A; Matt Kobyra Sr. A; Sean Carroll, Sr. MF; Connor Devane, Sr. MF; Graham Parsons, Sr. MF; Matt Basiele, Sr. MF; Ted Otten, Jr. MF
Westhill: Austin Wentworth, Sr. MF; Matt Biancuzzo, Sr. MF/A; Steven Lee, Sr. MF; Dan Lubowitz, Sr. A; David Engle, Sr. D
Fairfield Ludlowe, Central and Danbury did not return information at press time.