The FCIAC, yet again, achieved its usual overall success in spring sports state tournaments.
During this past 2021 high school spring sports season the conference’s traditional strength was displayed even more so as the FCIAC had extraordinary success.
There were 10 teams from the FCIAC which won Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference state championships.
In the seven sports with the tournament format in which teams have to win head-to-head competition to advance through the brackets, the FCIAC had a winning percentage of .618 with a combined record of 105-65 in the baseball, softball, girls lacrosse, boys lacrosse, girls tennis, boys tennis and boys volleyball state tournaments.
This spring’s significant success was achieved because of the conference’s usual dominance in girls tennis, boys tennis, girls lacrosse and boys lacrosse, along with the unprecedented feat for the FCIAC when it snatched all four semifinal berths in the CIAC Class LL Baseball Tournament which Norwalk won with a 1-0 victory over Westhill.
In addition to Norwalk’s baseball team, the other nine state champions from the FCIAC included Darien High School’s girls lacrosse, boys tennis and boys volleyball teams; the Staples girls tennis and boys tennis teams; St. Joseph’s boys lacrosse and boys golf teams; Danbury’s girls outdoor track and field team and Ridgefield’s boys lacrosse team.
Norwalk’s 24th-seeded Bears became the lowest-seeded team ever to win a Class LL state baseball championship when it captured the school’s first state title. Norwalk’s 5-0 record and Westhill’s 4-1 record led the way toward the FCIAC having a combined 21-12 record in the Class LL tourney.
Brien McMahon and Greenwich both had 3-1 records as the conference’s other semifinal teams. McMahon’s 18th-seeded Senators defeated three higher-seeded teams. The FCIAC was 23-14 overall in baseball, having gone 2-2 in the Class L tournament.
There were two previous Class LL baseball tournaments when the FCIAC had three of the four teams in the semifinals. Four years ago, Staples dethroned four-time defending state champion Amity, 5-1, when Ridgefield and Stamford were also in the final four. Trumbull shut out West Haven, 1-0, to win the 1986 tournament in which conference teams Stamford and Danbury also made the semifinals.
The Ridgefield and St. Joseph boys lacrosse teams both had low seeds, 14th and 17th in their respective Class L and Class S state tournaments, but they gave example of the strength, balance and depth of FCIAC boys lacrosse as they each made sustained runs to win state championships.
Ridgefield and St. Joseph had to first win a qualifying game just to get into the first round and they both finished with 5-0 records.
St. Joseph’s 17th-seeded Cadets, the only FCIAC team in the Class S tournament, achieved a three-peat with a 13-9 victory over seventh-seeded East Catholic in the championship.
It was St. Joseph’s seventh Class S state championship since the Cadets won their first one in 2009 as they also won in 2011, ’14, ’15, ’18 and ’19.
The other nine conference teams played in the Class L tourney. There were none in Class M.
Ridgefield’s 14th-seeded Tigers beat eighth-seeded Fairfield Prep, 8-5, in the Class L final. Ridgefield won its two previous Class L state titles in 2011 and 2018.
The FCIAC had a combined 15-8 overall record in boys lacrosse – 10-8 in the Class L tourney along with St. Joseph’s five victories added on.
The FCIAC had a 17-9 combined record in girls lacrosse and was 15-8 in the Class L tournament which defending champion Darien (4-0) won with 14-6 victory over conference foe Fairfield Ludlowe.
It was Darien’s 11th state title since 2007 – three consecutive Division I championships from 2007-09, the Class M crown in 2011, five straight Class LL championships from 2013-17, and then the last two class LL titles this year and in 2019.
With the FCIAC copping a pair of state crowns in boys tennis – Staples in Class LL and Darien in Class L – the conference had a combined 19-8 record.
Staples has now racked up 23 state championships in several various tournament designations since the Wreckers won their first one in 1971.
This year the FCIAC had three of the four Class LL semifinal teams and the top-seeded Wreckers went 4-0 with four straight 7-0 victories. The final two were against conference foes 12th-seeded Ridgefield in the semifinals and 14th-seeded Westhill in the final. Westhill (3-1) eliminated the second- and third-seeded teams.
The FCIAC had an 11-6 record in the Class LL boys tourney and was 8-2 in the Class L tournament. Those only two Class L losses, by New Canaan (2-1) and runner-up Wilton (3-1), occurred against champion Darien (3-0), which defended its title with a 4-2 victory over Wilton.
This was the 15th state championship for Darien’s boys tennis team since the Blue Wave won its first state championship in 1976.
Similar to boys tennis, in girls tennis the FCIAC had three of the four semifinal teams in the Class LL tournament eventually won by Staples.
Fifth-seeded Staples (4-0) nipped second-seeded Amity, 4-3, to win a state title for the fourth consecutive year and the fifth time overall. Fairfield Ludlowe and New Canaan both went 2-1 en route to the semis while helping lead the FCIAC to a 12-7 record in the Class LL tourney.
Greenwich certainly gave credence to the conference’s quality in girls tennis. The Cardinals were seeded 16th, had to win a qualifying match 4-3 victory over 17th-seeded Ridgefield just to get into the first round, and once they got there, they knocked off top-seeded Glastonbury, 6-1.
St. Joseph went 1-1 in Class L so the FCIAC had a 13-8 combined record in girls tennis.
Top-seeded Darien won the CIAC Class L Boys Volleyball State Tournament with a 3-1 victory over second-seeded Enfield to put the wrap on a perfect 23-0 season.
The Blue Wave lost the first set and then won by the scores of 18-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-16. It was Darien’s fourth state championship – two in Class L (2017 and ’21) and the first two in Class M (2008 and ’11).
Darien advanced to the final with a 3-1 semifinal victory over fourth-seeded Trumbull, so those two teams led the FCIAC to a combined 6-6 record in the Class L tournament.
The 11 total softball teams from the FCIAC had a combined 12-11 record from the two largest state class tournaments – Class LL and Class L. There were no conference teams in Class M and Class S.
The 10 teams in the Class LL tournament combined for a 9-10 record. Fairfield Ludlowe and Trumbull both had 3-1 records. Second-seeded Ludlowe drew a bye in the first round and was nipped in the championship game, 4-3, by top-seeded Southington.
The Class L tourney also resulted in the No. 1 seed beating the No. 2 seed from the FCIAC in the championship game. St. Joseph’s second-seeded Cadets had three victories before losing in the final to top-seeded Masuk, 2-0.