Predicting postseason success at any level is all but impossible. So many different things can factor into which team earns a CIAC championship trophy that it’s a fool’s errand to make the attempt. But with the release of the CIAC postseason pairings approximately 24 hours away, it seemed like a good time to check in on the teams that did manage to earn some hardware last fall, and see what the chances might be for an encore performance. (editors note – the information for each team was written prior to any league tournament results on Wednesday).
- L: Darien notched its fifth field hockey title since 2007 thanks to a dominating 4-0 victory in the final last season. It was a cap on a 15-1 regular season for the Blue Wave, a run of success that has not wavered this season as the team is back atop the class L rankings with a 14-1-1 mark with the only loss coming to a team outside Connecticut. Darien has scored at least three goals in its last five games to close the regular season for an average of more than five goals per contest.
- M: The only blemish in Wilton’s season as it pursues a third-consecutive class M championship came at the hands of Darien, the team looking for another class L title. The Warriors have rolled through the regular season and are currently second in the M rankings with a record of 15-1. A stingy defense has been the hallmark for the team this year as it has conceded only three goals in 16 matches, with all three coming in just two contests, giving them 13 shutouts in the regular season. Wilton gets another litmus test outing when it plays Darien again in the FCIAC championship on Friday.
- S: Like the two other champions from last season, Haddam-Killingworth has seen very little drop-off from its championship run that ended with a 2-0 win in the finals last year. The Cougars were the four seed entering the postseason last year, and currently sit in fifth place in the CIAC rankings with a record of 12-3 with one regular-season contest remaining. Last season was the team’s eighth appearance in a championship final, and its third title overall. All but one of the squad’s losses has been by one goal this year, and the team is 7-3 overall in matches decided by a single goal.
- LL: The class LL volleyball final has been a frequent spot to find Darien over the past decade as the Blue Wave earned a 16th state title last year and appeared in the championship game for the 11th time since 2000. The team’s success has continued this year, though it has run into some stiff competition in the FCIAC, but has still posted a 17-2 record and sits comfortably in the top-5 of the class LL rankings. The squad’s only two losses came in back-to-back matches against conference opponents in early October but the Blue Wave have not been pushed to a fifth set in any of its 17 wins.
- L: Bristol Eastern claimed a fifth volleyball championship last season in class L, but its first since 2006. The Lancers were 17-1 in the regular season last year and then put together four wins to secure the title. Another exceptional regular season has followed for the team, piling up a 16-2 record through the season and will now look to begin a first postseason run with the CCC tournament beginning Wednesday evening. Both of Bristol Eastern’s losses came by 3-2 scores to two teams (Farmington and RHAM) that are ranked ahead of them in the CIAC class L rankings.
- M: Ledyard earned the class M championship in its first appearance in a volleyball final last season, capping a 14-4 season by capturing a 3-0 win in the final. Its task in trying to capture a second-consecutive title was made a bit more challenging as the team is competing in class L this season, so there will be no repeat winner in class M. In terms of the rankings the class change has not been a problem for Colonels who have rolled to a 19-1 record through the regular season and will look to build on that record when it plays for an ECC championship on Thursday night. The team’s only loss came to Woodstock Academy who it will face in Thursday’s final, and was the only time the team has gone to a fifth set as 16 of its 19 wins have been by 3-0 scores.
- S: The Coventry girls volleyball program ranks as one of the most successful of the new century as it added to its champion history with a 3-0 victory in the finals a year ago. It was the ninth class S title for the Patriots since 2003, with its 2005 runner-up performance the only year it did not hoist the trophy. This year’s team seems well positioned to make a run at another title as the team is 16-3 on the season with no losses coming against class S foes. It has won all 16 of its outings by 3-0 or 3-1 scores and will enter the tournament with a 28-match winning streak in CIAC postseason competition, though based on current rankings it will mark the first time during this run the team has not been either the number-one or number-two seed.
- LL: Norwalk claimed last year’s title by blanking Fairfield Prep 2-0, to earn the team’s first title since 1966. The Bears have been solidly in the mix since its championship campaign, posting a 7-6-3 record to comfortably earn the chance to defend its crown. Norwalk has also been playing some of its best soccer as the season came to a close (in terms of results) going 4-1 in its last five games. Norwalk was topped in the FCIAC quarterfinals by Greenwich which with an unbeaten regular season, is one squad that will surely challenge to dethrone the Bears.
- L: Perennially strong Farmington played a series of tight games before erupting with a 5-0 win over rival Avon to earn the 2012 championship, its 10th title overall and its third title since 2008. The Indians appear solidly in the mix to contend for its 11th championship after completing a regular season with just one loss, posting a 12-1-3 record to be comfortably in the top-10 in the class L rankings. The offense seems to be clicking with the postseason coming quickly, as the team has found the back of the net an average of 2.75 times per game over its last eight, including a semi-final win in the CCC boys soccer postseason where the team will face RHAM in the championship match on Wednesday.
- M: The top teams in class M in the regular season last year met in the final and provided a thrilling game with Suffield knocking off Bacon Academy in 2OT for a second-consecutive championship and its eighth overall. A third-straight title is certainly the target for Suffield and if regular season success is any indication of its likeliness, the Wildcats are in good shape. Suffield is one of just two teams in boys soccer this season to have an unblemished record with no losses or ties on the ledger and are steaming towards the postseason having not allowed a goal in its last six games, out-scoring opponents 27-0 during this stretch, and the offense has scored at least two goals in 14 of 16 matches.
- S: Bloomfield went on a spectacular tournament run to earn its second championship, and the first in more than 60 years. The win came in a thrilling contest with the winning goal scored in the final two minutes. With a younger roster this season and after a slow start, the Warhawks had battled to position to defend its title, but the use of an ineligible player caused several forfeits which leaves them shy of postseason qualification.
- LL: As the sixth seed last year, Newtown enjoyed a bit of an unlikely run to the program’s second girls soccer championship, posting three one-goal wins en route to five victories and the title. The Nighthawks were 12-1-3 in the regular season a year ago and have dropped a few more contests this year with a record of 9-4-3, but still comfortably earned a spot in the LL field where they will try to recreate last season’s success. Exactly half of the team’s 16 regular season matches were one-goal affairs (or ties) and its first postseason taste similarly was close as the team failed to advance on penalty kicks in the opening round of the SWC tournament.
- L: No stranger to tournament success, Avon is enjoying another strong campaign after winning its second-consecutive class L tournament a year ago. The quest for a third-straight crown (and the program’s fifth overall) has seen the team post a 14-2 record, with 12 of those 14 wins coming via a shutout. Its only two losses came against a Suffield team that is currently unbeaten and holds the top spot in the LL rankings. Its defense surrendered just two goals in four tournament wins in its campaign last season and this year it has outscored opponents 53-9.
- M: Three of the last four girls soccer seasons has ended with Northwest Catholic holding the class M tournament championship trophy, including consecutive titles in 2011 and 2012. However it will not be a third-straight class M crown for the Indians as the new “success in tournament factor” applied this season has them competing for a title in class LL. At least in the regular season the team looks like a legitimate threat to claim a championship regardless of its class, as the squad owns a 12-1-3 regular season record, and will play for the CCC girls soccer crown this evening. The team’s only loss of the year came against one of only five teams currently ranked ahead of it in the LL CIAC rankings and it also has a win and a tie against another of the teams ranked above them.
- S: There will not be a consecutive champion in class S either as the five-time defending champion Immaculate has also been moved up due to its postseason success. Having won 10 total class S crowns, and nine since 2003, the Mustangs will now have a shot to continue their title run in the class L tournament. The team’s regular season prowess has not dipped as a result of the move with the squad boasting an unbeaten 14-0-2 mark during the regular season. Its traditionally stout defense has again been a difference with the team allowing just three goals in 16 matches and recording 14 shutouts in those contests. The team did suffer the taste of some postseason disappointment following a 3-2 loss to Pomperaug in the SWC semi-finals, but it will still have the opportunity to keep its CIAC tournament run going.