We may never get an FCIAC season like a year ago, when remarkably three teams — Staples, Ridgefield and St. Joseph — tied each other and made it to the postseason unbeaten. It was tremendous fun, with the Wreckers winning the league title over the Cadets, who after beating the Tigers in the semifinals lost to them in the state quarterfinals.
Alas, the trio have been split up in this pandemic-affected season and St. Joseph, which would have been the preseason favorite, is in a different pod from its two rivals. Who would not have wanted to see six games with the three sides?
Ridgefield and Staples have been grouped together with Wilton in what is the most difficult of the three pods. The Tigers will have their coach, Iain Golding, very socially distanced — 3,200 miles away. Golding has been unable to return from his native Scotland.
How good will the league be this fall? Fifteen All-FCIAC players return.
I Coulda Been A Contender
New Canaan: The Rams had one of their strongest teams in a while but could not crack past the three powers ahead of them. They were hit hard by graduation losses but have a strong 1-2 scoring punch back in Dillyn Patten (12 goals, 5 assists) and Emma Schuh (11 goals, 3 assists).
Ridgefield: In a normal season the Tigers would probably be the primary threats to St. Joseph. The pipeline at Tiger Hollow keeps turning out strong young players to replace graduated stars like, this year for example, Caitlin Slaminko. Faith Arnold is the leader for Ridgefield up front. Charlotte Kemp was an impact defender and Julia Bragg is strong to the ball. Goalkeeper Kelly Chittenden will play next year at Delaware.
St. Joseph: The Cadets will field one of their deepest teams, with a number of All-League candidates, but might not get a chance to avenge postseason losses to Staples (FCIAC final) and Ridgefield (Class LL quarterfinals) because they are in different pods. Maddie Fried, a dangerous striker, is the preseason Player of the Year, and she is surrounded by a talented cast that includes Mary Lundregan, Andriana Cabral, Caroline Sheehan and Laci Lewis, who is back from injury.
Staples: Going through a conference season unbeaten was a remarkable accomplishment, but the Wreckers were hit by graduation losses, the biggest being center back Mia Gonzalez, who might have been the best player in the conference a year ago. Fortunately Gaby Gonzalez, her younger sister, is back to anchor the defense. The Wreckers also return the dangerous Autumn Smith, the steady Lys Goldman and Charlotte Barnes, who came on at the end of the season and was a dangerous scorer. With a lot of young talent, don’t start writing Staples off.
Wilton: The Warriors are as steady as a metronome, always among the top teams in the league, and this year is no different. in Erynn Floyd they have one of the state’s best goalkeepers, while Maddie Wecker is coming off a strong season. Wilton gets a good test right off the bat at home Thursday against Ridgefield.
Sleepers: If a team is going to break through the top five, it will be Darien, which will have one of the most experienced lineups and a strong defense led by Nelle Kniffin. Trumbull should be able to build off of a year ago.
West: Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Stamford, Westhill. Predicted Winner: New Canaan.
Central: Danbury, Brien McMahon, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Staples, Wilton. Predicted Winner: Ridgefield.
East: Bridgeport Central, Fairfield Ludlowe, Fairfield Warde, St. Joseph, Trumbull. Predicted Winner: St. Joseph.
20 Players To Watch
- Faith Arnold, Ridgefield
- Sophia Bastek, Greenwich
- Julia Bragg, Ridgefield
- Andriana Cabral, St. Joseph
- Ana Carlos, Trumbull
- Erynn Floyd, Wilton
- Maddie Fried, St. Joseph
- Lys Goldman, Staples
- Gaby Gonzalez, Staples
- Chloe Humphrey, Darien
- Charlotte Kemp, Ridgefield
- Nelle Kniffin, Darien
- Laci Lewis, St. Joseph
- Sophia Lowenburg, Trumbull
- Mary Lundregan, St. Joseph
- Dillyn Patten, New Canaan
- Emma Schuh, New Canaan
- Caroline Sheehan, St. Joseph
- Autumn Smith, Staples
- Maddie Wecker, Wilton
Danbury: G Jenna Ferrandino, D Mya Pellicone, F Alexis Estanqueiro, F Caroline Dickson.
Darien: D Nelle Kniffen, D Courtney Ball, D Katie Chandler, D Maggie Ramsey, G Jillian Fox, M Kate Bellissimo, M Collette Quinn, M Shea Dolce, M Joclyn Tyler, F Francesca Highton, F Chloe Humphrey.
Fairfield Ludlowe: Gabby Barucci, Julia Pida, Ellen Kelly, Laura Herron, Suzanna Weber, Coco Marrelli, Annelisse Bentley, Stella Zhawred, Ashlyn True, Ava Delaurentiis, Sydney Fischbach, Kaylee Scala, Olivia Shah, Maren Burns, Jane Paulmann, Ryan Manning, Kaylee Elinskas.
Greenwich: G Isabella Gega, D Slyer Scavo, D Celine Cohen, M Kristen Berzolla, M Alli Pennella, F Kelly Martyanov, F Sophia Bastek.
Brien McMahon: Sam Farrar, Sydney Molaver, Valentina Villa, Victoria Papadopoulos, Niamh Linehan, Riley Gulick, Cassidy Nash, Bailey Duddy, Abby Ortolano, KK Ortiz, Viviana Luna, Grace Simpson.
New Canaan: Dillyn Patten, McKenna Harden, Anna Zoccolillo, Emma Schuh.
Ridgefield: Faith Arnold, Charlotte Kemp, Julia Bragg, Kelly Chittenden, Tasha Riek, Eva McKinley, Grace Michalowski, Meredith Clifford.
St. Joseph: Julia Bike, Annie Stook, Maeve Matthews, Caroline Sheehan, Grace Hickey, Laci Lewis, Mary Lundregan, Andriana Cabral, Maddie Fried, Anastasia Kydes, Hannah Silva.
Stamford: Flavi Keller, Ashley Arrubla, Kendall Richmond, Molly Eldredge, Taylor Friese, Paige Cahoon, Bailey Getlik, Luciana Bueno, Zoe Tong, Alex Butler, Emma Mancini.
Staples: Gaby Gonzalez, Autumn Smith, Lys Goldman, Charlotte Barnes, Sophie Mulhern, Reilly Dembo, Charlotte Zhang, Maddie Sansone, Sammy Dewitt.
Trumbull: Ana Carlos, Grace Lesko, Chelsea Cunha, Liz Foley, Lauren Mecca, Megan Montalvo, Mia Di Bello, Nina Pizzicarola, Sarah McStravick, Erin Melia, Ellie Malin, Megan Garrity, Lexi Van Stone, Hannah Seymour, Kaitlyn Bailo, Mary Lynch, Sophia Lowenburg, Abi Leonzi, Korrie Munoz, Olivia Cunha.
Westhill: D Sofia Aquino, D Paige Hochadel, D Sammy Fischer, Audra Hansen, M Danya Taub, M Emma Romaine, M Amalie Harper, M Willow Furrer, F Amika Terzis, F Peyton Hackett.
Wilton: Erynn Floyd, Ashley Carbonier, Shelby Dejana, Libby Connolly, Maddie Wecker, Janet Johnson, Mia Pepitone, Heather Plowright, Jill Roberts.
(Teams missing did not reply to repeated requests for information)