Guys, the conference championships are in the books. That means that it’s time to take a look at the Connecticut state championships, which started yesterday with some outbracket matchups. Classes L and M are previewed below the fold, with an overview of Class S. …

Connecticut state tournament schedule:

• CIAC tournament: Division L pairings

• CIAC tournament: Division M pairings

• CIAC tournament: Division S pairings

Class M

The Favorite: Darien
June 10, 2004. On that date, Darien lost its last state playoff game, an 8-6 heartbreaker to archrival New Canaan.

Since then, Brameier’s boys have cast a long, wave-shaped shadow over Connecticut high school lacrosse, racking up a quartet of pristine CIAC postseasons and dispatching championship game opponents with ease. It’s difficult to see this year’s squad breaking with tradition. Junior goalie Andrew West, Hofstra-bound Corey Caputo and Ohio State recruit Matt Gorski headline a suffocating defense; against instate competition, they have allowed – on average – just three goals per game. And with a fairly easy draw, the Blue Wave should coast to the June 13 finale. As they say in Darien: death, taxes, and Class M state championships.

The Challenger: New Canaan
Under Howard Benedict, New Canaan was renowned for physical, efficient defensive play. Under Alex Whitten, little has changed. Spearheaded by mighty mite Kevin Campbell (who allowed one goal in two tilts with Matt White), the Rams’ junior poles have kept New Canaan afloat through a turbulent regular season. With stud sophomore Joe Costigan and the offense coming to life, the Rams could be dangerous. The one caveat: their draw, which will pit them against New Fairfield in the quarters and Wilton in the semis.

The Wild Card: New Fairfield
New Fairfield was left for dead after the graduation of all-everything (and current Duke phenom) C.J. Costabile. But with grit, hustle and Andrew Fiamengo’s wizardry at attack, the Rebels have turned in yet another perfect regular season. Coach Marty Morgan pulled his first trick by transforming a quaint, blue collar village into a lacrosse hotbed; his second, a state championship run through Connecticut’s “Big Three,” would be positively Houdiniesque.

The Dark Horse: Wilton
Darien’s 11-3 dismantling of Wilton in the FCIAC semifinals certainly dulled the championship buzz. But don’t count the Warriors out yet – the talent is there. If the squads’ slew of sophomores (Dunn, Francia, Serpa and Melillo) can provide Bryant-bound attackman Pete McMahon some much-needed help on the offensive end, Year One of the John Wiseman reclamation project might yield CIAC hardware. And even if it doesn’t, count on lockdown defenseman Joe LaSala and goalie James Fuller to guide the Warriors to their first final four since 2005.

Players to Watch
Nikki Dysenchuk, A (Darien) – The Blue Wave’s offensive “glue guy” returned to action in the FCIAC quarterfinals. Bad news for opposing defenses, who must already cope with Bolton, Brickman, Foley and Matheis.

Jimmy Joe Granito, G (New Canaan) – The Rams’ sophomore netminder has been stellar this season, ably replacing the departed Fergus Campbell. Should New Canaan meet Darien in the finals, Bolton & Co. will not intimidate him.

Matt Dunn, M (Wilton) – The workhorse sophomore was the lone bright spot in last June’s blowout loss to Darien. His nose for groundballs and transition abilities will be an invaluable complement to go-to-guy McMahon.

Class L

The Favorite: Ridgefield
Roy Colsey’s “Greatest Show on Turf” scored early and often in 2009, fueled by four Division I-bound seniors and a devastating transition game. Much has been said of Matt White, of course, but the Tigers’ other two dervishes at attack – Denver commit Colin Scott and junior Mike Galione – merit attention. And at midfield, Brendan Walsh’s (Fairfield) athleticism and killer bounce shot have earned him a spot amongst the area’s best. The most important piece in Ridgefield’s “unfinished business” puzzle, however, may very well be goalie Jake Hyatt’s switch from links to lax. His clutch saves and quick outlets have helped to preserve the Tigers’ perfect instate record.

The Challenger: Fairfield Prep
For longtime observers of Connecticut lacrosse, the Jesuits’ regular season travails are nothing new. Chris Smalkais’ squad wins when it counts, though, and Prep prefaced its pursuit of a fourpeat in 2009 by sailing through the SCC tournament. Look for Tucker Shanley, Chase Bailey and juniors Brendan Rotanz, Peter Gruppo and Mike Carey to continue the team’s trademark offensive fireworks into the state playoffs. And circle this date: June 11. If Fairfield Prep and Ridgefield survive early challenges, a rematch of last season’s 15-14 barnburner will take place in the Class L semifinals.

The Best of the Rest:

Cheshire – Past is prologue for the Rams, who sport a trio of familiar names: Heritage, Carisio and Gaudio. Doesn’t ring a bell? All three had brothers with starring roles on Cheshire’s 2002 championship team. To reprise that feat, Rich Pulisciano’s bunch will need to hope that the third time’s the charm against the Jesuits, who have tamed the Rams twice this season.

Greenwich – Plagued by injuries and inexperience, the Cardinals staggered to a 10-7 finish in ’09. But with Connecticut’s top goalie between the pipes, Greenwich should make noise. An easy draw will help matters.

Simsbury – The Trojans shrugged off some high-profile graduations and notched a 13-5 record, including wins over Prep and McMahon. Salisbury-bound middie Paul Gallagher bears watching.

New Milford – 6’4” dynamo Phil Dobson (Loyola) is the team’s unquestioned star, but Drew Haig (Hartford) and junior Brandon Kuring can also light up the scoreboard. A shame, then, that Ridgefield awaits in Round 2.

Newtown – The Nighthawks have one of Connecticut’s most underrated talents in Delaware-bound pole Kyle McNamara, MVP of the team’s upset victory over New Fairfield. That likely won’t be enough. Scrappy Staples (skippered by former Wilton coach Paul McNulty) looms as a classic trap game in the first round.

Players to Watch

Matt Baker, M (Ridgefield) – The Colgate commit does not get the publicity that White and Walsh do, but he does it all – defense, groundballs, scoring and passing. His fast break assist sealed Ridgefield’s FCIAC championship victory.

Chase Bailey, A (Fairfield Prep) – The Jesuits’ smooth attackman crushed Ridgefield’s title aspirations with an overtime goal in 2008. If Prep is going to spring the upset this year, Bailey will need to score in bunches.

Todd Heritage, A (Cheshire) – Heritage has done everything for the Rams, tallying 66 goals and dishing out 56 assists. If Cheshire plays spoiler at states, this junior attackman will be a major reason why.

Class S Overview

With Weston’s Tom Montelli and New Fairfield’s C.J. Costabile safely ensconced in Durham, N.C., Class S returned to a state of relative parity this season. No preseason favorites. No all-world longpoles. And, presumably, no championship game routs. Instead, Connecticut’s small school title sports a jumble of familiar names and new faces – former champions, developing programs and young  coaching talent.

Led by seniors Cody Hickock and Drew Scharf, Redding’s Joel Barlow High looks to be the tentative favorite entering the postseason. Their likely championship game opponent? The battle-tested Weston Trojans, 5-4 upset victors over the Falcons in the SWC quarterfinals. Also in the mix are the St. Joe’s Cadets (three time semifinal losers), who notched quality wins over McMahon and Staples in the regular season, and the top-seeded Granby Bears, who amassed a gaudy record against featherweight competition.  Expect a battle royale on June 11, when St. Joe’s seeks to end its finale futility against traditional power Barlow.

Comments? Insights? Predictions?

Reach Conor at

Title time:

• New York state tournament playoff bracket and schedule

• Section 1 final results (includes state tournament schedule)

• Nassau, Suffolk final results (includes state tournament schedule)

• FCIAC, SCC and SWC final results (includes CIAC state tourney schedule)

• Breaking down the CIAC tournament (includes brackets and schedule)

• Voting starts for all-region team with attack

• recruit profiles: Is yours up and working for you?

Posted In: Fairfield lacrosse

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38 Responses to “Breaking down the CIAC tournament”

  1. Joe Lombardi says:

    Excellent info and analysis by Conor.

    I’m sure folks outside Connecticut will enjoy reading this, too.

  2. Conor says:

    I’ll get the ball rolling with some final four predictions.

    Class L – Ridgefield, Prep, Simsbury, Greenwich

    Class M – NC, Wilton, Darien, East Lyme

    Class S – Weston, Ledyard, Barlow, St. Joe’s

  3. Keeler Tav says:

    Excellent artical Connor.

    Who do you think Ridgefield will play in the state title game?

    OK I’ll hang up now and listen to ur answer.

  4. Ride the Wave says:

    Conor which of Darien’s players do you envision making the biggest impact on their college teams?

  5. Conor says:

    Aside from Ridgefield, no one in Class L seems like a sure thing this year. I could see scenarios in which the Tigers face Greenwich, Simsbury, Newtown or Glastonbury (whom I did not even preview.) I’ll go with the Cardinals, though.

    Feel free to add your own predictions and insights, Keeler.

  6. re:lax says:

    Nice job indeed. I may not necessarily be in total agreement, but do think that you have done a very nice job of summarizing the playoff field for each class. Well thoughtout and written. For my 2 cents, L is a pretty much done deal…M is the one worth watching.

  7. Conor says:

    Ride –

    All five are immensely talented, but my money’s on Nikki Dysenchuk or John Bolton.

    Bolton made dramatic strides this year and should be a big fish in a small-ish pond at Lafayette. Dysenchuk, meanwhile, was (arguably) the top offensive talent on Darien’s ’08 squad and should continue a long line of Connecticut-bred stars at Dartmouth. Provided there are no lingering issues with his injury, of course.

  8. Ride the Wave says:

    I agree, Conor. I would also include Gorski. Huge upside and so technically sound. He also showed what a mature, grounded young man he is in the interview with Joe after the FCIAC championship game.

  9. WarriorNation says:

    Where do you think John Wiseman stands in FCIAC coach of year discussion, Conor? Kudos to Roy Colsey for the job he did but John did so much in restoring the pride of the program after many bumpy seasons.

  10. Keeler Tav says:

    Connor what about Prep? And how did they wind up seeded 12th??

  11. Conor says:

    Warrior – A three-horse-race between Colsey, Brameier and Wiseman, in my opinion. I’m not sure that Wiseman has done enough on paper (Yorktown win aside), but if the committee factors in intangibles – ie “Warrior pride” – it’s his to lose. As you point out, there is a very real sense in Wilton that the ship has been righted, and I’m hoping to do a story on this soon.

    And Keeler, Prep fell victim to the CIAC’s record-based seeding. Thanks to losses to a who’s who of Catholic school powerhouses, the Jesuits posted a 10-6 record and dropped to #12. They’re certainly better than their seed indicates; talent-wise, they are capable of keeping pace with the Tigers. Execution has been the issue.

  12. GangGreen says:

    Excellent piece Conor…very well done!! Thanks! Good luck to all of the FCIAC teams in pursuit of their respective State Championships!

  13. LarryLaxer says:

    I understand both Colsey and Wiseman, and have considered both Mcnulty from Staples and George Talbot from Westhill as well, but Brameier? I think he is an amazing coach who is year in and year out one of the best, but I’d say he was clearly not the best coach in the FCIAC this season…losing twice to Ridgefield should probably eliminate him from contention…no?

  14. Lax Novice says:

    I enjoyed your summary preview of all three State tournaments, certainly whets the appetite for the real thing starting tomorrow.

    Regarding the Coach of the Year discussion, obviously there are many ways to justify picking any number of coaches for outstanding work every year. It hadn’t dawned on me to consider Coach Braimeier a contender for this season, until I remembered all of the things people were saying about Darien at the start of the year, such as:

    – It’s their worst team in many years
    – Without Dysenchuk, they have no offense
    – they are Old School, and now its time for someone new
    – no way they can keep up with Ridgefield, they’ll get beat by 6-7 goals
    – it’s a DOWN YEAR for the Blue Wave (must have read that 100 times)

    So when you consider how such a rag tag outfit could hold the “Show” to 15 goals over more than eight quarters and lose both games by one-goal margins, including the FCIAC Championship game, it’s not inconceivable that Coach B could add that honor to the many accolades received over an exemplary career.

  15. BlueWhite says:

    I seem to recall that before the season that there were those that believed this to be the best Darien senior class in its history. So was it a case that the coach didn’t get enough out of his players to match recent bench marks (doubt it) or perhaps all the pre-season hype wasn’t necessarily justified with one of its captains injured.

    Don’t see how it doesn’t go to Colsey though he might not want it considering what happened to the prior two at Ridgefield that received the award.

  16. Joe Lombardi says:

    Ridgefield, which became the firsdtt team other than Darien, Wilton, New Canaan or Greenwich to win a FCIAC boys lax title earlier this week, starts CIAC action today as the No. 1 seed in Class L.

    Here’s a rundown of the first-round games on tap for today. Be sure to weigh in with info/thoughts on the games right here and pass along any scores you may have.

    CIAC tournament opening round

    Games start at 3 p.m.

    Class L

    Trumbull at No. 1 Ridgefield

    McMahon at No. 4 Amity

    Staples at No. 2 Newtown

    Westhill at No. 7 Simsbury

    Greenwich at No. 6 Glastonbury

    Class M

    ND-West Haven at New Canaan

    Brookfield at No. 4 Wilton

    Branford at No. 3 Darien

    Ludlowe at No. 6 Avon

    Class S

    Ellington at No. 3 St. Joseph

  17. Conor says:

    My thoughts on the CoY honors mirror Novice’s. Brameier took a team racked by injuries – including, at various times, to Gorski and Caputo – and made it, per usual, a dominant force in the FCIAC. The Blue Wave suffocated Wilton, G’wich and New Canaan and held Ridgefield in check (his defensive game plan in the FCIAC finale was brilliant.) In short, Darien did what it has done every year – but this time, under dramatically different circumstances and with a bonafide power in-conference. That sort of job merits consideration, at the very least.

    And a quick bit of trivia for our readers: When was the last time that Darien lost an instate game by more than one goal?

  18. Conor says:

    And some first round scores from yesterday’s games….

    New Milford 11, Southington 7

    Conard 12, Daniel Hand 8
    East Lyme 15, Farmington 5

  19. Ride the Wave says:

    Conor I seem to remember Darien losing to New Canaan by 2 or 3 goals in 04.

  20. CT Lax says:

    Looking at some of these first round CIAC mismatches kind of makes you wonder what the point is of this tournament. I mean even the outbracket games were blowouts. I guess the finals could be interesting but for now I have little interest.

  21. Lax Novice says:


    I’m pleased you like the case I made for Coach B as CoY. Do you know who votes on that sort of thing, is it other coaches? I wouldn’t really be surprised if Coach Colsey is selected as FCIAC CoY, they have run the CT table undefeated and won the regular season as well as the tournament. Two things to consider though. One, apparently Ridgefield’s tremendous season wasn’t enough for the Class L coaches, who named the Newtown coach as their CoY. Also, Coach Colsey’s accomplishent would mirror that of Coach Marr of Yorktown, who was named Section 1 CoY, much to the disappointment of many bloggers here who felt that the advantage in talent the Huskers enjoy was as much a factor in their success, and that the honor should go to a coach who did more with less, such as the coaches from White Plains, John Jay and others. The parallel in the FCIAC is with the Westhill coach. Who thought that a Stamford public school boys lax team would ever be 12-5 and headed to the FCIAC and State Tournament?

    I’m sure whoever is selected is well deserving, all of these men put in countless hours for the benefit of the athletes well as those of us who care about the boys and the game.

  22. Joe Lombardi says:

    Score update: Darien leads Branford 8-0 after one quarter.

  23. Joe Lombardi says:

    Halftime: Darien 13, Branford 1

    Darien has pulled its starters.

  24. CT Lax says:

    Than you Darien by illustrating my point in comment #20.

    Conor – turning to more interesting matters more worthy of people’s attention (as opposed to the CIAC tournament), what’s the answer to your trivia question?

  25. […] • Breaking down the CIAC tournament (includes brackets and schedule) […]

  26. Conor says:

    Ride was correct – the 8-6 New Canaan victory (alluded to in the preview, actually, as their last CIAC loss.) A pretty impressive stat, I think. If you’re going to beat the Wave, it won’t be by much.

    And CT, I’d give the tournament a chance. L, in particular, figures to have a number of interesting matchups. And the upper half of M could yield a barnburner or two. This year’s first round compares favorably with past year’s, in my opinion.

  27. Joe Lombardi says:

    Final: Darien 18, Branford 5

    No. 3 Darien will host No. 6 Avon or No. 11 Fairfield Ludlowe in the quarterfinals on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

  28. Joe Lombardi says:

    Here’s a rundown of some more CIAC tournament opening-round scores:

    Class L

    Amity 15, McMahon 8

    Newtown 9, Staples 8 (OT)

    Simsbury 12, Westhill 5

    Class M

    New Canaan 14, ND-West Haven 0

    Wilton 20, Brookfield 3

    New Fairfield 19, Masuk-Monroe 4

  29. Lax Novice says:

    FCIAC 0-3 in Class L 1st round? Geez, I trust Ridgefield will hold up their end.

  30. Lax Novice says:

    Ridgefield 16, Trumbull 9

    Glastonbury 10, Greenwich 6

    Ridgefield is the only remaining FCIAC school in Class L.

    In Class M

    Fairfield Ludlowe defeats Avon 17-5, goes on to play Darien Tuesday.

    New Fairfield – New Canaan game all set for Tuesday as well at New Fairfield.

  31. Joe Lombardi says:

    Yes indeed, Lax Novice.

    Ridgefield beat Trumbull 16-9.

    Other CIAC scores just in:

    Somers 18, Waterford 2

    St Joseph-Trumbull 14, Ellington 1

    Weston 19, Stonington 6

  32. Conor says:

    Glastonbury’s 10-6 victory over Greenwich is the first (mild) surprise in Class L, but it will not be the last. Indeed, #2 Newtown narrowly survived Staples in overtime earlier today. As I said, L is extraordinarily competitive this year.

    Prep’s 12-7 takedown of Cheshire caps off the night.

    Here are your quarterfinal matchups in L, M and S:

    (1) Ridgefield vs. (9) New Milford
    (4) Amity Regional vs. (12) Fairfield Prep
    (2) Newtown vs. (7) Simsbury
    (3) Xavier vs. (6) Glastonbury

    (1) New Fairfield vs. (8) New Canaan
    (4) Wilton vs. (5) Guilford
    (2) East Lyme vs. (7) Conard
    (3) Darien vs. (11) Fairfield-Ludlowe

    (1) Granby vs. (9) Weston
    (4) Morgan-Clinton vs. (5) Ledyard
    (2) Joel Barlow vs. (7) Somers
    (3) St. Joe’s vs. (6) Immaculate-Danbury

    All games are presently scheduled for Tuesday.

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