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Legends of the fall season: FCIAC teams claimed nine state championships

The FCIAC once again gave display of its strength as a conference with some significant success during the fall sports season in the state tournaments and championship meets.

The Darien and St. Joseph football teams, Staples field hockey team, Ridgefield and St. Joseph girls soccer teams, Greenwich and St. Joseph girls volleyball teams, Greenwich girls swimming and diving team, and Staples boys cross country teams all won state championships.

Greenwich won both the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference girls swimming and diving Class LL Championships and the State Open for the third consecutive year.

The Staples boys cross country team won the Class LL championship and was runner-up at both the State Open and New England Championships.

In the five sports in which games or matches are formatted toward head-to-head competition – football, boys soccer, girls soccer, field hockey and girls volleyball – the FCIAC had a most impressive .643 winning percentage with a combined record of 72-40.

The conference had an overall record of 9-2 (.818 winning percentage) in football.

Third-seeded Darien won the CIAC Class LL football playoffs for the third straight year in a championship showdown of two FCIAC teams with a 31-22 victory over a resurgent and top-seeded Greenwich team on Dec. 9 at Boyle Stadium in Stamford.

Second-seeded St. Joseph defeated top-seeded Ansonia, 42-36, to capture the Class S crown.

Eighth-seeded New Canaan was eliminated in the Class L semifinals by fifth-seeded Masuk, 28-14, and that ended New Canaan’s run of four straight state Class L championships from 2013-16.

State champions Darien and St. Joseph both compiled 3-0 records, Greenwich was 2-1 and New Canaan 1-1 in their respective state football playoffs.

The conference’s girls soccer teams had a combined 20-9 record for a .690 winning percentage.

It was a championship showdown of two FCIAC teams in the CIAC Class LL girls soccer tournament and seventh-seeded Ridgefield defeated fourth-seeded Staples, 2-1, to win the title.

Ridgefield was 4-0, Staples had a 3-1 record, while eighth-seeded Darien and 12th-seeded Trumbull both went 2-1 to lead the FCIAC to a combined 13-8 record in the Class LL tourney which included nine conference teams.

Third-seeded St. Joseph won the CIAC Class L girls soccer tournament with a 1-0 victory over top-seeded RHAM. The FCIAC had a combined 7-1 record in that tournament as the Cadets went 5-0 while 25th-seeded New Canaan was 2-1.

Another championship showdown of two FCIAC teams occurred in the CIAC Class L field hockey tournament and seventh-seeded Staples won the title with a 1-0 victory over fifth-seeded Darien in a rematch of the 2016 final in which both teams were co-champions after playing to a scoreless tie through regulation and two overtime sessions.

The FCIAC had a 12-6 overall combined record from its seven teams in the Class L tournament and a 15-7 overall record (.682 winning percentage). Staples was 4-0 and Darien 3-1 in the Class L tourney while eighth-seeded and defending Class M champion New Canaan finished with a 3-1 record after the Rams were dethroned in the final by second-seeded Daniel Hand, 2-1.

The FCIAC was quite competitive and balanced in boys soccer during the regular season and the conference had a combined 12-12 record, going 11-11 from its 11 teams in the CIAC Class LL boys soccer tournament. Norwalk went 3-1 and made the deepest run in the LL tourney as the 20th-seeded Bears lost to top-seeded Naugatuck, 1-0, in double overtime in the semifinals.

Also noteworthy, 29th-seeded Fairfield Warde beat fourth-seeded Newtown, 3-2, in the Class LL first round and Wilton was seeded 34th as the only conference team in the Class L tournament because of its 5-7-4 record in the regular season but the Warriors eliminated a second-seeded and undefeated Wilcox Tech (15-0-1 regular season) team by a convincing 4-0 margin in the first round.

In girls volleyball the FCIAC had a combined .615 winning percentage (16-10) along with the two state champions – Greenwich and St. Joseph.

The conference finished 12-10 in the CIAC Class LL girls volleyball tournament after Greenwich’s sixth-seeded Cardinals finished 5-0 when they copped their crown with a 3-1 victory over fifth-seeded Amity by the scores of 25-18, 26-28, 25-6 and 25-18.

St. Joseph was the conference’s only girls volleyball team the Class M tournament and the top-seeded Cadets were unbeaten in four matches, culminating with a 3-1 victory (26-24, 25-27, 25-21 and 25-17) over seventh-seeded East Haven in the championship match.

The St. Joseph defense limited Ansonia to one score per quarter in the second half of the CIAC Class S football final. — David G. Whitham/Trumbull Times photo

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