New Canaan boys lacrosse coach Chip Buzzeo chuckled when posed with this question: how does a two-time defending conference champion fly underneath the radar?
“It’s more who you listen to and who is doing all the talking,” Buzzeo said. “We kind of keep to ourselves. We don’t buy into the chatter. We’re preparing for the playoffs. As long as we keep working hard hopefully we will have the same result of the last two years.”
The FCIAC lacrosse season is nearing the halfway mark and the consensus is the champion will come from one of four schools: New Canaan, Greenwich, Darien and Ridgefield. Staples, despite two key injuries, is not far behind.
Think about it: of the so-called big four, which one has received the last amount of attention so far? That would be the three-peat-hoping Rams.
“Too many teams and coaches and fans worry about polls and chatter, and that doesn’t mean anything until the championship game,” Buzzeo said.
The Rams improved to 6-1 on Thursday with an impressive come-from-behind 7-5 victory over Ridgewood (N.J.). They scored the last four goals for the non-league win.
Truth be told, the lack of publicity to date has less to do with New Canaan getting a lack of respect than being overshadowed by a confluence of events.
Greenwich and Ridgefield played a four overtime game that received great attention. Because Darien is coming off a rare off year, its undefeated start has generated greater acclaim than it would in other years. There are more big games between FCIAC schools and regional powers than ever before, and the league has won a majority of them.
Even the Ridgewood victory got lost in the shuffle because it occurred on the same day that Greenwich played Fairfield Prep and two traditional league powers, Darien and Wilton, faced each other.
And the Rams’ league schedule thus far has not been difficult, though that is about to change this week.
Thursday’s win was typical of the team’s play this season. Five different players scored goals, led by two each from Harry Stanton and Justin Meichner. The defense, sparked by goaltender Trent Nader, was resilient, and the Rams overcame playing without faceoff specialist Ted Dumbauld, who missed the game with an injury.
You look over the New Canaan roster and it is a Who’s Who of the best athletes at the school — and many in the league and state.
Over half the players were members of the football team that won league and state championships. A number were on the hockey team that won the FCIAC title. The four captains — Nader, Stanton, Teddy Bossidy and Seth Neeleman — are familiar names in sport circles.
“I find it a little odd,” Buzzeo said of the lack of fanfare thus far. “We have all these wide receivers, running backs and some defensive backs, and about 10 hockey players. The kids who played in the Darien-New Canaan state championship football game in the snow. That game is more valuable than the kid who spends 30 days in the gym preparing for the season. It all leads to better lacrosse.”
For those who can remember the national college basketball scene of 30 years ago, Buzzeo, like many of his colleagues, is from the Denny Crum school. The former Louisville coach loaded up on difficult non-league games before it was commonplace, willing to trade some setbacks to have his team ready for the postseason.
“It might mean having three or four losses but it will help you get better,” Buzzeo said.
As for being eclipsed thus far, New Canaan travels to Greenwich on Thursday and Darien next Saturday. It closes the season with Fairfield Prep.
“In the end we will figure out who the best team is,” Buzzeo said. “I think next week we will be back in the spotlight, either in a good way or a bad way. We’ll see.”