The CIAC semifinals take place tomorrow at locations across the state, but Brien McMahon’s Jack Casagrande Field will play host to Connecticut’s two marquee matchups – the New Fairfield-Wilton clash in M and the Ridgefield-Prep rematch in L.  Those are previewed below.

Before we preview today’s two marquee matchups, here’s Thursday’s schedule:

Class L

No. 1 Ridgefield vs. No. 12 Fairfield Prep, 7:15 p.m. at Brien McMahon-Norwalk
No. 6 Glastonbury vs. No. 7 Simsbury, 5:15 p.m.  at Hall-West Hartford

Class M

No. 1 New Fairfield vs. No. 4 Wilton, 5 p.m. at Brien McMahon-Norwalk
No. 2 East Lyme vs. No. 3 Darien, 4:15 p.m. Guilford

Class S

No. 5 Ledyard vs. No. 9 Weston, 7 p.m. at West Haven
No. 2 Joel Barlow vs. No. 3 St. Joseph-Trumbull,   5 p.m. at Danbury

Marquee matchups

New Fairfield vs. Wilton

In its storied history, New Canaan has amassed eight state titles, eight FCIAC championships and 23 high school All Americans.

None of that mattered in the 10-2 thumping New Fairfield administered yesterday night.

Marty Morgan’s Rebels have made upending tradition a tradition unto itself, knifing through Class S – and obliterating established programs like Joel Barlow and Daniel Hand – in their storybook ’08 run. This year, with a move to Class M, they’ve set their sights on decidedly bigger game. So much so, in fact, that the trio of programs athwart their championship path has earned its own moniker in Connecticut lacrosse folklore: “The Big Three.”

And Wilton, tomorrow’s opponent, is the oldest and proudest of the trinity. But make no mistake – the Warriors have present-day success to match their historical dominance. This year’s 15-5 campaign was highlighted by victories over Yorktown, New Canaan and Greenwich.  Senior attackman Peter McMahon, meanwhile, is the sort of polished, Division 1-bound talent that the Rebels have not seen at attack this season; suffice it to say that his shot selection and feeding abilities were something New Canaan sorely lacked in the quarterfinals. At the other end, goalie James Fuller (who notched 25 saves in the Yorktown game) and Joe LaSala headline a stout defensive unit.

LaSala’s abilities will be put to the test tomorrow, as Coach John Wiseman will likely task the 6’3” Washington & Lee recruit with corraling New Fairfield’s Andrew Fiamengo. The slippery attackman tallied a hat trick and three assists against New Canaan, and boasts 110 points on the season. As talented as Fiamengo is, though, the Rebels’ true trump card may not even be on the playing field. Coach Marty Morgan – engineer of the program’s meteoric rise – churns out disciplined, team-oriented squads with regularity. Yesterday, his group did not commit a single penalty and evinced great hustle. There is little doubt that they will be prepared for Wilton.

Morgan’s counterpart has no illusions.

“They’re a good team, definitely” says Wiseman, “and it’s a good sign for the sport that teams we haven’t heard about before are winning games like that.”

If the Rebels have their way, Darien coach Jeff Brameier will be saying the same thing before Saturday’s championship game.

Prediction: Wilton, 10-8.

Ridgefield vs. Fairfield Prep

A year ago, at Brien McMahon High School, Fairfield Prep attackman Chase Bailey ended Ridgefield’s title aspirations with a point-blank shot in triple overtime.

This year, with a new coach (Syracuse great Roy Colsey) and a new motto (“Unfinished Business”), the Tigers hope to exorcise their championship demons. But they also carry a new burden: overwhelming favorites, courtesy of a 20-1 record, #13 national ranking and four Division 1-bound seniors.

Escaping the Jesuits will require superb play from all four of those seniors. On attack, Matt White and Colin Scott should score in bunches against an overmatched Prep defense. But at middie, Brendan Walsh and Matt Baker will square off against a talented Jesuit first line – and it is here, in the center of the field, where the game will likely be won or lost.

Tucker Shanley is the big name: his nose for the goal (39 tallies) and athleticism were the main attractions for Ancient Eight power Princeton. These skills should also attract Ridgefield junior longpole Casey McKnight, who is typically tasked with covering opposing midfield threats. Added incentive for McKnight & Co. to control ground balls and win possession? The presence of attackmen Chase Bailey and Brendan Rotanz on Prep’s offensive end. If they are allowed to get going, the game could quickly devolve into a shootout.

Prediction: Ridgefield 13, Fairfield Prep 10.

Be sure to weigh in with your thoughts on predictions on all of Thursday’s games.

Reach Conor at

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11 Responses to “CIAC semifinal matchups, previews, predictions”

  1. BlueWhite says:

    Thought the games were at McMahon?

    All things being equal, I’m afraid NF may have too much to prove to lose this game. Tough to quantify that kind of an X factor and the system that the coach has built up throughout the youth program in to the HS ranks.

    Wilton is the decided underdog in this game, but Wiseman has the ship turning in the right direction for 2010 and beyond

  2. Conor says:

    Poor phrasing on my part, BlueWhite. Jack Casagrande is at McMahon – in the city of Norwalk. I did not intend to imply NHS.

    Agreed about NF’s “X factor.” The other issue to consider is focus. Wilton is licking their chops for a third crack at Darien (I’m sure that the seniors are also intent on ending a 21 game losing streak dating to 1999), and New Fairfield doesn’t have quite the same cachet – could be a classic “looking ahead” situation. I spoke to John Wiseman today and he is cognizant of the challenges NF will present tomorrow. The question is whether the kids are. This is a team that has played at 110% and at 50% at various times this season.

    Guess we’ll find out soon.

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  4. Lax Novice says:


    If the Wilton coach can’t get his kids to focus on today’s opponent whose only loss was by one goal and who picked apart NC two days ago, then you wonder who is in charge up on Route 7.

    Looking forward to the updates, the Darien – East Lyme game should be already underway in Guilford.

  5. Conor says:

    LaxNovice –

    Coach Wiseman will do everything in his power to motivate the kids, I’m sure. But New Fairfield is not Darien or New Canaan – their relative anonymity is an asset, as the Rams learned on Tuesday night. Given the NC result, I doubt Wilton’s kids will sleep on this game.

    I’m hoping to have updates from McMahon starting in the third quarter.

  6. Lax Novice says:

    Great, Conor, thanks. That’s my feeling as well, how could anybody, especially the senior leaders, take NF lightly, that makes no sense. I’m pretty sure NC didn’t take them lightly either, they just got beat, fair and square.

    Thanks in advance for the updates.

  7. twinlax says:

    looking for a big New Fairfield win tonight…would love to see them run the FCIAC table in Class M.

    I also think Simsbury over Glastonbury, Darien over E. Lyme, Ridgefield over Prep (although I wouldn’t be shocked if FP pulls an upset), St Joes over Barlow and Weston over Ledyard.

    Good luck to all the teams! Wish I could be there

  8. Conor says:

    Wilton knocks off one of the year’s better stories, New Fairfield, 11-8.

    Any word from Guilford or Danbury? Word out of West Haven was an early Simsbury lead.

  9. Lax Novice says:

    Joe reported Darien 16 – East Lyme 4 final.

  10. Conor says:

    Your Connecticut state championships…

    Class L: Fairfield Prep vs. Simsbury
    Class M: Darien vs. Wilton
    Class S: St. Joseph-Trumbull vs. Weston

    Previews coming tomorrow.

  11. Syracuse says:


    Nice job this week.

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