This is the final week of the regular season in the FCIAC. The boys and girls lacrosse playoffs begin on Friday. The baseball and softball tournaments open a week from tomorrow.
Except in baseball, where we have one of the best horse races in recent memory, there should be little drama in the other sports.
That all changes once the postseason commences. If there is one across-the-board keyword to the spring sports season, it is parity.
Here is a final-week primer and a look ahead, working from the sports with the fewest amount of storylines upward.
Right now the only question this week is which team will clinch the final seed for the playoffs.
Darien is going to be the top seed, followed by Wilton, Greenwich and New Canaan.
The view here is that the Blue Wave are the heaviest favorite in the four sports we are dealing with here. Given that they only defeated the Cardinals by two goals, the strength of Wilton and the nature of the rivalry with New Canaan, lets just say that Darien coach Lisa Lindley won’t be clearing space in the trophy case this week.
The eight teams are all but a lock for the playoffs, though New Canaan has to be careful. It has a two-game lead over Danbury for the eighth seed and a tough schedule: Stamford, Fairfield Ludlowe and Trumbull. But it also has a tiebreaker on the Hatters.
The theme of the week is playoff seedings. Just two games separate the second through seventh teams in the standings.
The general feeling around the league — shared here — is that St. Joseph has the best all around team and Darien, with Erika Osherow, the best pitcher. At the same time, neither team has that big a gap over the rest of the league.
New Canaan won the league title as the sixth seed a year ago. There’s no reason Fairfield Ludlowe and Greenwich can’t run the table next week. Or one of the other teams cannot get hot for three days.
For now, the longer you have to wait to play either St. Joseph or Darien, the better.
The only question the rest of the week is the battle for the final two spots in the playoffs. Right now Wilton, with its loss to Fairfield Warde, is in the ninth spot and on the verge of missing the tournament for the first time.
Up top, the top four teams in the power point standings are, in order, Darien, Greenwich, Ridgefield and two-time defending champion New Canaan.
The undefeated Blue Wave have established themselves as the team to beat, but their wins over Ridgefield and New Canaan were each by a goal.
With all due respect to Staples and Brien McMahon, which have had great seasons, the general lacrosse fan is hoping for the top four teams to reach the semifinals, which would make for three championship caliber games. It is hard to recall the last time four teams in a sport were playing at such a high level.
If you are looking for high-stakes drama, this is the sport you want to pay attention to. Fourteen teams are still mathematically alive for the eight playoffs sports, though realistically there are really 12 teams really in the hunt.
Staples is the only team that can relax this week. It is the lone one that has clinched a berth so far — when was the last time just one school was secure heading into the final week of the season? — and needs just one win to clinch the top seed.
There is just a two-game difference between the next nine teams. With such a close race, it is almost impossible to handicap at this point. Consider all nine games today will have an impact on the race.
Darien, Trumbull and St. Joseph each have four league losses right now — the Cadets still have four games left compared to three by the other schools — and one win by Darien and Trumbull and two by St. Joseph will probably get them in.
How crazy is this season? The Eagles, after Staples, are the hottest team, with five straight wins in which they have allowed a total of just eight runs. But they close the season with Greenwich, New Canaan and Staples — the last two on the road. That is an FCIAC playoff-worthy schedule.
By my count, 24 of the remaining games currently will have playoff implications. St. Joseph plays Brien McMahon on Saturday, which means the pairings probably won’t be settled until late that afternoon.
And lets not even look ahead past this week: the tournament is going to be wide open.