Crowns for Staples, Wilton highlight FCIAC boys lacrosse season

The perennial strength and balance of FCIAC boys lacrosse was especially evident during this past 2023 spring season.

When the regular season concluded and two postseason tournaments were forthcoming, the conference’s upper-tier teams were so balanced in quality that there could be no team favorite or co-favorites to win either the FCIAC or state Class L tournaments.

It was coach Steve Pearsall’s Wilton Warriors who utilized a hot goaltender, Evan Blankenship, to win the school’s first FCIAC championship in 24 years with an 8-4 victory over New Canaan.

And then in the next couple weeks it was coach Will Koshansky’s Staples Wreckers who got hot and defended their state championship in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Class L Boys Lacrosse Tournament with an impressive 13-6 victory over a very good Fairfield Prep team.

Soon after that Staples was ranked No. 1 for the second consecutive year when the votes from coaches and media members were tabulated for the final GameTimeCT Top 10 Boys Lacrosse Poll.

That poll was definitive proof of the conference’s strength as Staples led a group of five FCIAC teams ranked among the top seven.

Staples finished with a 17-5 record and received 10 of the 13 first-place votes and 127 polling points to earn the No. 1 ranking. The Wreckers had 17 more polling points than No. 2 Cheshire, which got the other three first-place votes after it rolled through the Class M state tournament and won that with an 18-3 victory over Daniel Hand.

Third-ranked Fairfield Prep finished with an 18-4 record and got 105 points to finish ahead of four FCIAC teams. Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, and Ridgefield were ranked 4-7, respectively.

Darien was nipped by Staples, 9-8, in the Class L semifinals so the 15-6 Blue Wave was ranked No. 4 with 92 polling points. Fifth-ranked New Canaan finished 15-7 after its 12-7 Class L semifinal loss to Fairfield Prep, while No. 6 Wilton finished its season with a 16-5 record after New Canaan’s Rams avenged their loss in the FCIAC tournament final with an 8-2 victory over Wilton in the state Class L quarterfinals.

Seventh-ranked Ridgefield (12-7) was that fifth FCIAC team among the top seven in the final state poll and the Tigers were one of five FCIAC teams in the state Class L quarterfinals as they were eliminated by Darien, 11-2.

Weston was ranked No. 8 after finishing 20-3 and defending its Class S state championship with an 11-6 victory over St. Joseph (16-5), the seventh FCIAC team among the top nine in the state poll.

Polling points were tabulated on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

Class M runner-up Daniel Hand (15-7) and Simsbury (16-4) each received seven points to tie for No. 10.

Staples really heated up in the CIAC Class L Tournament as the second-seeded Wreckers averaged 15 goals per game while outscoring their four opponents, 60-21. Tyler Clark had three goals and two assists and Sam Eigen had two goals and a pair of assists to lead the Wreckers to their 13-6 victory over top-seeded Prep in the Class L final on June 11 at Sacred Heart University. Ben Burmeister and Leo Sequenzia each scored two goals and sophomore goalie Josh Marcus had 10 saves for the champions.

Wilton was seeded fourth in the FCIAC Tournament, and the Warriors beat two higher-seeded teams in the semifinal and final rounds. After they nipped top-seeded Darien, 11-10, in the May 23 semifinals, their netminder Blankenship made several excellent saves among his dozen total to earn MVP honors in their 8-4 victory over third-seeded New Canaan in the May 25 championship game at Norwalk High School’s Sam Testa Field. Caleb Rath and David Sylvester each scored two goals while Charles Rath had a goal and two assists for Wilton.

New Canaan advanced to the FCIAC championship game with a 9-5 semifinal victory over second-seeded Staples.

What occurred in the FCIAC tourney and then in the state Class L tournament was a microcosm as to just how good and how balanced the elite teams in the FCIAC were this year.

Staples was ranked 17th in the USA Lacrosse Magazine Nike/USA Lacrosse High School Rankings heading into the postseason and the Wreckers ended up in that same exact spot as the sole FCIAC team in the season’s final national poll.

Wilton led the way with seven selections on the 2023 All-FCIAC Boys Lacrosse Tier One First Team. Charlie Johnson, Caleb Rath, Charlie Rath, Jack Schwartz, Tommy McKiernan, Spencer Liston, and Conner Flanagan were those seven Warriors on the 22-player all-conference first team.

The other 15 first-team selections were Brady Pokorny, Briggs McGuckin, Jake Wilson, and Carter Hagen of Darien; Mike Nealon, Clark, and Burmeister of Staples; New Canaan’s Doster Crowell, Colin Finnigan and Teddy Rosen; Ridgefield’s Kyle Colsey, Chris Reinhardt, and Michael Dowd; and Greenwich’s Colin Zeller and Matthew Trimmer.

NOTES: Darien, which went into the season as the two-time defending conference champion and had won seven of the previous eight FCIAC titles from 2014-22, still has the record of 19 FCIAC championships. Wilton, which won the first five from 1977-81, is second with 13 and New Canaan is third with 10 conference crowns….  A team from the FCIAC has won the Class L state championship for the last nine consecutive seasons from 2014-23 after Fairfield Prep defended its title in 2013. Darien has collected four state Class L championships in that span (2015-17 and 2019), Staples won its first state championship in school history last year, Ridgefield won in 2018 and ’21, and Greenwich won in 2014.

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