There would never be an ideal year to split up such a deep league like FCIAC boys soccer, but a regionalized and abbreviated regular season due to the coronavirus pandemic is especially unfortunate this fall. Nine of the 16 teams would have started three weeks ago with realistic hopes of making a run at an FCIAC title.
Picking what would have been the top five contenders required splitting hairs with so much parity.
Thus there will be a lot of exciting games and strong race we will not get to see, but the three pods are competitive and should provide for an entertaining 10-game regular season.
I Coulda Been A Contender
Fairfield Ludlowe. The Falcons were fit to be tied last fall, finishing with a seldom-seen 6-3-7 record. That came after six draws in 2017. There should be enough talent to tilt some of those games in their favor this season, with Calum Crawford providing Ludlowe with one of the league’s most dangerous forwards. It is grouped into a difficult pod.
Fairfield Warde: The Mustangs remarkably went through the regular season unbeaten before losing to Trumbull in the league championship. There were a lot of losses to graduation, but a rugged defense — Sean Rodriquez, Connor Shea, Ryan Berecz, Alex Kagan — returns along with goalkeeper Andrew Jones.
Greenwich: When was the last time the Cardinals were not a contender? Graduation losses just lead to more opportunities for players forced to wait their turns. The absence of Joao Pedro Lima, who opted to play academy soccer, is a blow, but there is a strong returning cast that includes Tadeo Mendive, Matias Lew and Ryan Smith. The Cards made a strong run to the state final a year ago.
Staples: The Wreckers are another consistently strong side, and this fall will be no different. Surya Balaji is one of the state’s premier defenders, while Murilo Moreno will be solid at midfield. Goalkeeper Reed Caney is back but the Wreckers are so deep at the position they could stock many of the teams in the league.
Wilton: The Warriors made the remarkable leap from 4-9-3 to a 4-3 double overtime loss to Hand in one of the most memorable state finals ever. The center of Wilton’s field has moved on, but it is strong in all areas, led by wing Nathan Bennett, midfielder Owen Lillis and defender Arhav Soi.
Sleepers: How can you not include Trumbull or Danbury in the top five? In the preseason it is due to so many unknowns more than a lack of respect. The Eagles return Carrigan Cullinan and the Hatters goalkeeper Matt Sliva. They both will be counting on many newcomers. And don’t sleep on city mates Norwalk and Brien McMahon, which will both be dangerous. Looking for a team capable of rebounding from a sub-.500 season? Keep an eye on Ridgefield.
West: Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Stamford, Westhill, Wright Tech. Predicted Winner: Greenwich.
Central: Danbury, Brien McMahon, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Staples, Wilton. Predicted Winner: Wilton.
East: Bassick, Bridgeport Central, Fairfield Ludlowe, Fairfield Prep, Fairfield Warde, Harding, St. Joseph, Trumbull. Predicted Winner: Fairfield Ludlowe.
16 For 16: Players To Watch
- Will Baker, Ridgefield
- Surya Balaji, Staples
- Nathan Bennett, Wilton
- Calum Crawford, Fairfield Ludlowe
- Carrigan Cullinan, Trumbull
- Ethan David, Trumbull
- Matias Lew, Greenwich
- Owen Lillis, Wilton
- Murilo Moreno, Staples
- Simon Osorio, Brien McMahon
- Oskar Otalvaro, Norwalk
- Sean Rodriguez, Fairfield Warde
- Matt Rullo, Fairfield Ludlowe
- Matt Silva, Danbury
- Ryan Smith, Greenwich
- Ahrav Soi, Wilton
Bridgeport Central: Evan Lobo, David Camayo, Andy Barrera.
Danbury: G Matt Silva, D Taylor Le, D Carlos Rosales, D Ian Lindsey, D Anthony Raymundo, M Ben Tomas, M Andres Aveiga, M Luis Lopes, F Anthony Ranieri, F Matt Aracna, F Cris Carasco, F Kevin Baculima, F Duber Valero.
Darien: Will Lehan, Tommy Branca, Billy Branca, Chase Caruso, Evan Hughes, Andrew Smith, James Galvin, Robbie Roderick.
Fairfield Ludlowe: Patrick Connor, Calum Crawford, Declan Kuhn, Timothe Marilhet, Sawyer Nessel, Matt Rullo, Mike Loya, Malik Thomas, Zach Connor, Johan Moon, Matt Menozzi.
Fairfield Warde: D Sean Rodriquez, D Connor Shea, D Ryan Berecz, D Alex Kagan, G Andrew Jones, M Eric Jara, M Evan Defonce, M Devin Grenier.
Greenwich: Tadeo Mendive, Matias Lew, Ryan Smith, Jeanel Boone, Andrew Lowitt, Jake Hugh-Jones, Isaac Dumeny, William Flynn, Julius Engleton.
Brien McMahon: G Jose Hernandez, D Max Aidebe, D Jhon Jeune, D Bryan Lemus, D Eli Good, M Simon Osorio, M Leonardo Guzman, M Jostyn Blanco, M Yerson Villalobos, F Erwin Reyes, F Jackson Fiscina, D Dawenson Saintilus, D Alex Pasiakos, D Chris Veliz, M Evan Mallios, M Bobby Fosina, M Edwin Gonzalez, M Camilo Montoya, F Jalean Sajous, F Jose Ramos, F Yeferson Rosales.
Norwalk: G Jake Godwin, D Alex Vazquez, D Cristian Trofa, D Brandon Rodriguez, D Luke Ingber, D Chris Papadopolous, M Christos Kutrubis, M Mateo Cano, M Diego Ramirez, F Jhonny Santamaria, F Greg Foster, F Oskar Otalvaro.
Ridgefield: F Fisher Mills, M, Liam Harford, M Alex Ludwin, D Will Baker, D Chad Eskenazi, D Diego Pepe, D Steve Brodsky.
St. Joseph: Deaglan Prendergast, Cameron Reichenbach, Robert Lewicki, Matt Guzzi, Anthony Fiatarone, Jack Attanasio, Carson Rodriguez, Manny Santos, Jake Pacacha, Mateo Cruz, Brett Ingram.
Stamford: Leo Alvarado, Christian Carmona, Carlos Chavarria, Briant De La Cruz, Josh Goncalves, Luke Goncalves, Seth Patchett, Andre Quijada, Lev Shapiro, Miko Zauholnov.
Staples: D: Surya Balaji, M Jack Douglas, D Alan Fiore, M George Smith, F Haydn Siroka, M Murilo Moreno, G Reed Caney, G Sebi Montoulieu, Enzo Valadares.
Trumbull: D Carrigan Cullinan, D Sean Brennan, M Ethan David, M Michael Rizzo, M Phil Pires, M Evan Racette, M Cameron Holmes, D Stephen Contreras, D Alexander Conaway, F Ben Bronstein, G Blaine Garcia, G Jack Lumpinski.
Wilton: F Nathan Bennett, F Jake Lash, M Owen Lillis, D Ahrav Soi, F Oliver Dahlen, M/F Andrew Zizzadoro, M Ross Edkins, G Jack Lynch, D/M Will Hughes.
(Teams missing did not reply to repeated requests for information)