Two of the big winners last week were Dave Schulz and Dane Street. Schulz, the new FCIAC commissioner, saw all of the league’s tournaments that were held live up to the hype. There were no blowouts, just overtime games, fifth sets and one-goal outcomes. Street is the new athletic director at Ridgefield. That makes for a good segue…
It seems to me…Thanks to their girls teams, Ridgefield can be referred to as title town in the state this fall. The soccer team won its second straight league crown with a 1-0 win over St. Joseph. The swimming team won its first conference championship. And they take a backseat to the girls cross country team, which added the State Open title to the Class LL and FCIAC crowns they had previously won. And don’t forget the volleyball team, which finished the regular season as the second seed before losing to eventual champion Stamford in the semifinal. Not to be outdone, the football team is having a pretty good season. You may have heard the Tigers have a big game Friday night in Tiger Hollow against Greenwich. A win would put them on the cusp of a state playoff berth. It was not a bad time for Street to make the move from Simsbury to Ridgefield.
It seems to me…It was nice to see two new schools playing in the volleyball final. Stamford was making just its fourth appearance and first in 16 years. This was the first time for McMahon. And did both teams put on a show. Rather than succumb to the pressure, both teams reveled in it and brought their best games. There were no runs of serve-receive errors that prompted a coach to call a timeout. All five sets were closely contested. The championship was won by Stamford, not lost by the Senators. While everyone is aware of offseason 7 on 7 football and club soccer, there are very few sports that cannot be played year-round, or close to it. That is a big reason the quality of volleyball has been on an upswing.
It seems to me…It is about the players, but it was hard not to be happy for Black Knights coach Mike Smeriglio. Partially because of what happened 20 years ago, when his team lost in the final to Darien after being up by two sets and with a big lead at match point in the third. Smeriglio, known affectionally as Smurf, has always been popular with his players, many of whom were at Ludlowe on Saturday afternoon or watching the HAN stream from as far away as California. Smeriglio deserved his moment on the pedestal.
It seems to me…I would be tempted to sponsor a beach volleyball tournament if it meant we could watch Stamford’s Andrea O’Connor and McMahon’s Meredith Pellegrino go head to head again. They are two great players who did themselves proud with the mutual respect displayed after the match.
It seems to me…If ever there was a final that deserved to end in a tie and with co-champions, it was Thursday’s boys soccer game between top seeds Greenwich and Trumbull. Both teams came in unbeaten. And after a 1-1 draw neither side could get the better of the other through 180 minutes over two games. Neither team deserved to lose. That being said, it is time that the FCIAC and CIAC do away with co-champions in soccer and field hockey. Nobody likes penalty kicks, but it is the means used to break ties in final soccer games at every level, including the World Cup. There is nothing more awkward in high school sports than watching the reaction of players at the final buzzer when the realization hits that they are not an undisputed champion. They don’t feel like they lost, but they also don’t feel like they are complete winners either. One side should get that thrill-of-victory moment. Tournaments are played to determine a victor. So in the offseason, the FCIAC and CIAC should rewrite the rule books. If teams play to a draw, continue with two 10-minute overtime periods, but allow for a golden goal. That way you don’t have the chance of teams trading goals in overtime and remaining tied. Then go to penalty kicks. Neither Greenwich not Trumbull deserved to lose. But one of them deserved to win.