FCIAC

Girls Soccer 2015: Fairfield Warde And St. Joseph Return As Heavy Favorites

Jenn Maldonado is one of the anchors for defending co-conference champion Fairfield Warde. (Photo: Gregory Vasil)

Jenn Maldonado is one of the anchors for defending co-conference champion Fairfield Warde. (Photo: Gregory Vasil)

Fairfield Warde or St. Joseph?

St. Joseph or Fairfield Warde?

The storyline heading into the FCIAC girls soccer season is pretty easy to get a grasp on, right? That seems to be the case; at this point all roads seem to be pointing to an inevitable showdown, first three games before the end of the regular season, then in the conference final and, well, who knows after that.

The two programs look like All-Star teams, with a multitude of strengths and few weaknesses. And who wouldn’t want to see these two teams face off three times in a matter of weeks?

Fifteen other schools are holding out hope, and they can all point to a year ago, when New Canaan stunned St. Joseph, the regular-season champion, in the FCIAC quarterfinals on penalty kicks. That prevented a three-peat, and then the Cadets’ postseason was ruined again by Warde in the state quarterfinals.

As for the Mustangs, they were on the verge of an outright conference championship before Staples’ Lauren Garcia beautiful ball tied a 1-0 game and led to co-champions. Warde then lost in the state final in double overtime.

So both teams are not lacking for a little extra incentive. But the sport is always strong, and there are a couple of programs lurking and ready to fill the role of spoiler. And with a new schedule in which teams play everybody once, there should be an interesting battle down below for the final spots in the FCIAC Tournament.

The Favorites

Fairfield Warde: Could the Mustangs be even better this year? It is possible. Just about every player of consequence returns, and after winning their first championship, they would like to own one outright. Mollie Kerrigan is arguably the state’s best goalkeeper, while the versatile Jenn Maldonado and Anna Glovin are both capable of taking over play. Overshadowed is Lauren Tangney, who gave a verbal commitment today to Wake Forest and is ready to really break out after an excellent freshman season. There is no discernible weakness, and no signs of complacency after last year’s accomplishments. There are more prizes to be had.

St. Joseph: Looking for a reason to go with the Cadets besides pure skill? There is the chip on the shoulder after failing to add to the school trophy case following an outstanding regular season. Forward Jenna Bike may be the state’s most dangerous player, and she will find strong support from midfielders Leah Lewis and Lindsey Savko. In all there are eight starters back with very long memories of how last fall ended. It is a dangerous position for opponents.

Shaw

Staples’ Lydia Shaw is one of the FCIAC’s top scoring threats. (Photo: Gregory Vasil)

The Contenders

Staples: The Wreckers lost five starters from a year ago but have reason for optimism. Lydia Shaw is dangerous up top and will draw the usual swarm of defenders. She will be complemented by Charlotte Rossi. If the defense can play near the level of last fall, Staples will again be a major player.

Ridgefield: The Tigers were one of the teams hardest hit by graduation losses after losing a tough 1-0 decision to Warde in the state semifinals, but coach Alex Harrison has been making an impact, and though there will be a lot of unfamiliar faces, the cupboard is hardly empty.

New Canaan: The Rams disrupted the league playoffs a year ago and would like nothing more to do so again. Goalkeeper Katie Donovan joins seniors Sami Stewart, Caroline Gordon and Mia Carroll on what is an experienced squad.

The Sleepers

Wilton: New coach Freya Coombe has been sparse with preseason information. It is hard to tell if she is playing the wily poker player, but she will have one of the league’s top players, Bridget Dwyer.

Trumbull: The Eagles may not be the dominant power they once were, but with three players back who missed all of last year because of injury, they are a dangerous threat.

Elite 11

Jenna Bike, St. Joseph

Chelsea Domond, Westhill

Anna Glovin, Fairfield Warde

Marissa Grasso, St. Joseph

Mollie Kerrigan, Fairfield Warde

Leah Lewis, St. Joseph

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Jenn Maldonado, Fairfield Warde

Jessica Robbins, Danbury

Lindsey Savko, St. Joseph

Lydia Shaw, Staples

Lauren Tangney, Fairfield Warde

After heavy graduation losses, Westhill will be counting on the play of Chelsea Domond. (Photo: Gregory Vasil)

After heavy graduation losses, Westhill will be counting on the play of Chelsea Domond. (Photo: Gregory Vasil)

Players To Watch

Danbury: M Jessica Robbins, M Sara da Silva, M Vivi Corte-Real, G Rachael DeBellis.

Fairfield Ludlowe: Caroline Serniak, Tatum Lareau, Kaela Martin, Morgan Quinn.

Fairfield Warde: G Mollie Kerrigan, Jenn Maldonado, Amelia Andrews, Julia Andrews, Claire Pullen, Hannah Allen, Taylor Gabrenas, Anna Glovin, Alexa Montani, Lauren Tangney, Teresa Andres.

Brien McMahon: F Olivia Rosado, G Danielle Bonis.

New Canaan: Katie Donovan, Mia Carroll, Caroline Gordon, Sami Stewart, Schuyler O’Mahoney, Ellie Annioplolus, Allie D’Ambrosia, Kelly McClymonds, Abigail Farley, Katherine Kuchinski, Braeden Dial, Maeve Selvage, Julia Ozimek, Abigail Crowley, Kylie Murphy, Madison Star.

Norwalk: D Paulina Mandujano, D Hannah Froelich.

St. Joseph: F Jenna Bike, F Jessica Mazo, M Leah Lewis, M Marissa Grasso, M Lindsey Savko, M Maia Moscova, D Samantha Lello, D Tory Bike, D Christina DiCisare, D Alexis Mason, G Veronica O’Rourke.

Stamford: G Alex Lemekha, D Mariana Bueno, Manuela Serna, D Fabiana Bueno, Becca Satz, M Caroline Ryan, M Erica Stietzel, M Juliana Burke, M Karina Romero, F Mia Vitti, F Dana Serrichio.

Staples:  F Lydia Shaw, D Elizabeth Mitas, F/M Charlotte Rossi.

Trumbull: Lauren Coty, Chelsea Chen, Francesca Esposito, Kyri Marinos, Jillian Presser, Amelia Crosley, Becca Crosley, Meghan Ahern, Julie Keckler, Brady Lynch, Kristen Pagliaro, Ashley Storing.

Westhill: Chelsea Domond, Natalie Druehl.

Wilton: Taylor Ingerman, Jillian Lauricella, Caroline Higgins.

(Teams missing or with incomplete lineups did not reply to requests for information.)