With spring season over, state champions crowned and postseason polls and rankings abounding, it seemed appropriate to do a top-10 list.
A few qualifiers: This top 10 is one man’s opinion and is meant to start discussion and debate, which is supposed to be fun. It is limited to the Hearst Connecticut Newspaper regions — essentially the FCIAC, the SWC and a small portion of the SCC. Agree? Disagree? Offer your thoughts below. Please be respectful of other teams and the athletes. Enjoy and thanks for reading.
1. FAIRFIELD PREP (18-3): The SCC and Class L champions are the clear choice for the top spot. Led by CHSLCA Player of the Year Kevin Brown and three other first-team All-Americans (Tim Edmonds, David White and Andrew Hatton), the Jesuits went undefeated in Connecticut. Prep’s three losses came at the hands of Chaminade (N.Y.), Delbarton (N.J.) and St. Anthony’s (N.Y.). Chaminade is No. 6 in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse High School Top 25 and Delbarton No. 14.
2. RIDGEFIELD (17-3): Tough season for the talented Tigers, who have had an excellent two-year run (36-7) but no titles to show for it. Titles or not, Ridgefield is the second-best team in the state, let alone the region, in my mind. The Tigers’ only in-state losses were at Darien, to Greenwich in the FCIAC semifinals and to Prep in the L semifinals. All top teams. Coach Roy Cosley has established Ridgefield as one of the elite programs in the state.
3. WILTON (13-8): Tremendous playoff run by Warriors, who entered the Division M tournament as the most-talented No. 17 seed in the history of high school lacrosse. Wilton’s inconsistent regular season landed them a low seed and a play-in game. All the Warriors did was win five straight playoff games, upsetting FCIAC-foe Darien in the quarterfinals and M favorite Barlow in the state final. All-American Ted Ottens was a force to be reckoned with at the faceoff X and goalie Connor Johnson was stellar throughout the playoffs.
4. JOEL BARLOW (18-2): Breakout season for the SWC champion Falcons, who beat FCIAC champion New Canaan in the Division M semifinals, walking away with an epic 5-4 come-from-behind OT win. Trailing by two goals with 51 seconds remaining against one of the best defenses in the state, the Falcons rallied for the unthinkable victory. Despite the loss to Wilton in its first-ever M championship game after years in Division S, know this — the Falcons are legit and here to stay. All-American defenseman Conn Curry is as good as they come.
5. NEW CANAAN (16-3): I was thoroughly impressed with New Canaan and first-year coach Chip Buzzeo all-season. Extremely disciplined team. Outstanding defensive unit. If there was a Defensive Player of the Year award, New Canaan’s Eric Persky would have gotten my vote. He’s tough, physical, smart and plays defense with his feet as much as his hands and his pole. Penn is getting a great player.
6. WESTON (14-9): The Class S champions’ postseason looks very similar to Wilton’s. The Trojans were seeded 15th in S, but undaunted, they rattled off five straight wins on their way to a state title. In the championship, Weston withstood a furious rally by St. Joseph for a well-earned championship.
7. STAPLES (16-5): Trying to establish yourself as a premier program while playing in the FCIAC is no easy task. After years of domination by Wilton, Darien and New Canaan, the league’s elite has expanded to include Ridgefield and Greenwich. After this season, you might want to consider putting Staples in the conversation. After losing to Greenwich in the FCIAC quarterfinals, the Wreckers returned the favor in the L quarters on their way to the championship game. In the final, Staples put a major scare into Prep before the Jesuits pulled away in the second half. Coach Paul McNulty clearly has the Wreckers on the right track and I expect Staples to maintain a high level of excellence for years to come.
8. GREENWICH (15-6): Given all the injuries the Cardinals had to endure, you could make an argument Greenwich over-achieved. You can always bet on coach Scott Bulkley having the Cardinals ready to go come playoff time. Exhibit A? Greenwich’s gritty upset of Ridgefield in the FCIAC semifinals. Had injuries not cut short his season, Loyola-bound middie Kyle Foote could be joining teammate Graham Savio on the All-America team. Breakout season for Savio, whose aggressiveness and skill at the faceoff X is likely to earn him a Division I scholarship.
9. NEW FAIRFIELD (16-6): What was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Rebels turned out to be a pretty successful season. New Fairfield enjoyed another strong postseason, losing to Barlow in the SWC championship and state champion Wilton in the M semifinals. Expect more of the same from the Rebels next year.
10. DARIEN (11-7): The Blue Wave might have played arguably the toughest schedule in the state. In addition to navigating the FCIAC, Darien faced the likes of Manhasset (N.Y.), Niskayuna (N.Y.), Yorktown (N.Y.) and St. Anthony’s (N.Y.). Except for St. Anthony’s, all of those teams finished in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse High School Top 25. Darien — the state’s gold standard team along with Prep — will bring back talented middie Peter Lindley and a host of others in 2014. You have been warned.
HONORABLE MENTION: St. Joseph, Brien McMahon, Newtown, Bethel.