The Stamford Black Knights and Ridgefield Tigers lead a tightly-packed FCIAC boys soccer playoff race, as the contenders round the turn and head into the final three weeks of the fall season.
The Knights and Tigers hold identical 8-2-0 records, with Stamford earning the nod for first place based on its win over Ridgefield, with four other teams — Greenwich, Trumbull, Staples and Norwalk — within four points of the top spot.
The FCIAC formula awards three points for a win and one for a tie, and with all teams having between five and seven games remaining, the home stretch is shaping up to be a wild ride.
Here’s a look at the contenders:
1 – Stamford (8-2-0, 24 points)
The Black Knights had a perfect 3-0 record last week, capped with Saturday’s 1-0 victory over fifth-place Staples. For the time being, the Knights’ 2-1 win against Ridgefield on Sept. 11, gives then the top spot over the Tigers, and they also have key tiebreakers over Trumbull and Staples. Stamford’s two losses were to third-place Greenwich and seventh-place Ludlowe.
Remaining Opponents: Warde, Norwalk, Westhill, Central, Wilton and Trinity
2 – Ridgefield (8-2-0, 24 points)
After opening the season with one-goal losses to Trumbull and Stamford, the Tigers have been the league’s best team, winning eight straight games. That includes a 2-1 decision over rival Wilton last Thursday. Only a loss with Stamford is keeping them from the No. 1 spot, via the tiebreaker, at the moment. The Tigers still have showdowns with Staples and Norwalk to come, as well as tough games with playoff contenders Westhill and Warde to close things out.
Remaining Opponents: St. Joseph, Staples, New Canaan, Norwalk, Westhill and Warde
3 – Greenwich (7-3-1, 22 points)
The Cardinals have been on a tear recently, going 3-0-1 in four games against FCIAC playoff contenders. They knocked off Stamford 2-1, Norwalk 4-0, and Trumbull 1-0, before tying Westhill 2-2 on Saturday, and are in prime position to challenge for the No. 1 seed. The schedule is favorable as well: In the final three weeks of the regular season, Greenwich will face no teams in the FCIAC’s top eight, and just one — Warde — currently has a record above .500.
Remaining Opponents: Central, Wilton, Warde, Danbury and Trinity
4 – Trumbull (7-3-0, 21 points)
The Eagles had an up-and-down ride last week, sandwiching victories over Westhill, 3-1, and town rival St. Joseph, 6-0, around a 1-0 loss to Greenwich. Trumbull’s postseason seeding could well depend on tiebreakers, and those are a mixed bag for the Eagles, who defeated Ridgefield, Staples and Westhill, and lost to Stamford, Ludlowe and Greenwich. Trumbull faces playoff hopefuls Wilton and Warde this week, has a big match-up at Norwalk looming on Oct. 16.
Remaining Opponents: Wilton, Warde, Norwalk, Trinity, Central and Danbury
5 – Staples (6-3-2, 20 points)
The Wreckers had a four-game winning streak, which featured victories over Greenwich and Norwalk, snapped on Saturday in a 1-0 loss to Stamford. Staples takes the No. 5 seed over Norwalk based on its win against the Bears, but Norwalk has the advantage of a game in hand. Staples has a huge contest against Ridgefield at Tiger Hollow on Thursday, with a strong Ludlowe team on deck for Oct. 16. Outside of those two teams, the Wreckers’ other three remaining opponents have a combined record of 2-24-5
Remaining Opponents: Darien, Ridgefield, Ludlowe, New Canaan and St. Joseph
6 – Norwalk (6-2-2, 20 points)
The Bears were one of the preseason favorites to win the FCIAC and opened the year with five wins, but a recent 1-2-1 stumble has caused a slight tumble down the conference ladder. A dangerous first-round opponent for anyone, Norwalk has a tough final few weeks with a schedule that features Stamford, Trumbull, Ridgefield and Ludlowe, all playoff teams at the moment.
Remaining Opponents: McMahon, Stamford, Trumbull, Ridgefield, Ludlowe and Darien
7 – Ludlowe (5-1-3, 18 points)
Ludlowe has cruised along somewhat under the radar, but a big finish could mean a big move up the FCIAC ranks. The Falcons have just one loss — to Ridgefield on Sept. 19 — and own three key tiebreakers, having beaten Stamford, Greenwich and Trumbull. Key games against Staples, Norwalk, Warde, and Wilton are still to come.
Remaining Opponents: Westhill, St. Joseph, Darien, Staples, Warde, Norwalk and Wilton
8 – Westhill (4-3-3, 15 points)
Westhill snapped a two-game losing streak with a tie against Greenwich on Saturday, and gets the nod for eighth place over Warde based on its 1-0 win over the Mustangs on Sept. 23. The Vikings still have contenders Ludlowe, Stamford and Ridgefield on the schedule, and will also need to take care of business against McMahon, Darien and New Canaan.
Remaining Opponents: Ludlowe, McMahon, Stamford, Darien, Ridgefield and New Canaan
9 – Warde (4-3-3, 15 points)
Warde is on the outside looking in for the moment, thanks to its loss to Westhill in late September. The Mustangs’ remaining schedule is brutal, with the top four teams in the league, as well as a Ludlowe team fighting for the playoffs.
Remaining Opponents: Stamford, Trumbull, Greenwich, Ludlowe, McMahon and Ridgefield
10 – Wilton (4-4-2, 14 points)
The Warriors are a live team at the moment, following an 0-3-1 open to the season with a 4-1-1 mark in their last six. They’ll need to keep the recent success going against some tough opponents, as they still have Trumbull, Greenwich, Stamford and Ludlowe on the slate.
Remaining Opponents: Trumbull, Greenwich, Danbury, McMahon, Stamford and Ludlowe
11 tied – Central (3-3-4, 13 points) and Danbury (3-4-4, 13 points)
Both Central and Danbury are within striking distance of the eighth and final playoff spot, but have little margin for error with just a few games remaining.
Central’s Remaining Opponents: Greenwich, Danbury, Trinity, Stamford, Trumbull and McMahon
Danbury’s Remaining Opponents: Trinity, Central, Wilton, Greenwich and Trumbull