June 12, 1999. Most Wilton fans will recognize it as the date of one of Paul McNulty’s three state championships while skippering the Blue & White. But for diehard followers, it has taken on a darker significance on that day, the Warriors tallied their last victory over rival Darien.
Ten years, 21 losses and one coaching change later, the Warriors’ Brameier blues have become a significant blemish on the program. The impact of such prolonged futility is difficult to quantify, but consider this: during that span, the Blue Wave have won by an average of 6.6 goals per game and scored more than one morale-sapping TKO against the onetime powerhouse (including last season’s 17-2 FCIAC rout.) If Wilton is to spring the upset, intimidation a dynastic perk which the Warriors once enjoyed must not be a factor.
When Darien is on Offense…
Wilton goalie James Fuller must buckle down. The senior netminder’s 25 saves sealed the Yorktown upset, and a similar performance could keep things interesting at Jack Casagrande. It is a near-certainty that Darien (led by Tyler Foley, John Bolton and Nikki Dysenchuk) will outshoot the Warriors. But shot placement has been an issue for the Blue Wave in ’09, and if Fuller supplements his hallmark consistency with a spectacular save or two as Jake Hyatt did in the FCIAC Championship things could get interesting.
Another item that bears watching: who lockdown pole Joe LaSala hones in on. One option is Loyola-bound Foley, who possesses a deadly left-handed crank and is a frequent beneficiary of Brameier’s isolation plays.
When Wilton is on Offense…
Peter McMahon must receive help. In Darien’s 11-3 FCIAC takedown, the senior attackman was frequently left to perform an awkward tap-dance behind the cage more often than not, possessions ended with bone-crunching hits or wild passes. The Blue Wave’s veteran defense (Matt Gorski, Corey Caputo and Ryan Mulligan) has been stingy this season, to be sure. But if McMahon can find a target for his pinpoint passes and Wilton can capitalize on rare Darien slipups Wiseman’s crew will hang around.
Prediction: Darien 9, Wilton 6
Simsbury junior goalie Conley Cummings has been the tournament’s breakout star, stonewalling a potent Newtown attack and tallying a goal in yesterday’s Glastonbury game. But Fairfield Prep which showcased its considerable firepower in an 11-10 upset of Ridgefield is a different sort of beast altogether. The Jesuits boast Chase Bailey and Brendan Rotanz at attack and a stable of athletes at midfield. The Trojans, by contrast, lean heavily on Salisbury-bound middie Paul Gallagher.
Prediction: Do not expect a repeat of the Trojans’ regular season victory; Prep’s perennial postseason transformation is well-documented. Simsbury may keep this close, but Chris Smalkais’ squad earned their fourpeat against the Tigers last night. Prep, 13-7.
St. Joe’s-Trumbull vs. Weston
St. Joe’s took its lumps in the FCIAC. Weston stumbled to a 13-8 record, including out-of-conference losses to Brien McMahon and Guilford. That both teams are now playing in the Class S championship game is a testament to the their difficult regular season schedules. Sean Ledwick and Morgan Faller lead a balanced Trojans offense, while senior attackman Joe Bacarella is the Cadets’ go-to guy.
Prediction: St. Joe’s has been a pleasant surprise in 2009, but Weston (making their third consecutive title game appearance) has the experience and grit to notch their second state title. Weston, 9-8.
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