2022 CIAC Boys Lacrosse State Championship Preview Capsules

The CIAC boys lacrosse state finals are on Sunday. 

The CIAC boys lacrosse state finals are on Sunday. 

Hearst Connecticut Media

 

2022 CIAC Boys Lacrosse State Championship Preview Capsules

All championship games are Sunday at Sacred Heart University.

Tickets: $10 / $5 students, senior citizens. Online purchase only.

CLASS S

WHO: No. 5 Weston (18-4) vs. No. 7 Northwest Catholic (17-4)

WHEN: Sunday, 10 a.m.

ON THE AIR/WEB: NFHS Network (subscription)

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Weston: Def. Granby 20-1, Sheehan 10-9, Haddam-Killingworth 16-4. Northwest Catholic: Def. Foran 12-7, Ellington 12-8, Canton 14-10.

CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: Weston: 9th appearance, 4-4 (won 2007 Class S over Barlow, 2010 Class S over St. Joseph, 2013 Class S over St. Joseph, 2021 Class M over Hand; lost 2008 Class S to New Fairfield, 2009 Class S to St. Joseph, 2015 Class S to St. Joseph, 2019 Class M to New Fairfield). Northwest Catholic: First appearance

KEY PLAYERS: Weston: Will Harris, Jr. A; Renzo Garone, Sr. M; Duncan Craine, Sr. D; Sean Esslinger, Jr. M/FO. Northwest Catholic: Brady Brennan, Soph. A; Pat Meuser, Sr. A; John Staunton, Soph. M; Cullen Horn, Soph. D.

OUTLOOK: Two conference champions run into each other here at the end: Weston won the SWC tournament for the first time in a decade, while Northwest Catholic took the CCC South. This has a tinge of the irresistible force vs. immovable object to it: Weston hasn’t given up 10 goals in a game since April (though Sheehan made a heck of a run), while the Lions have only failed to score 10 once since April. Weston comes in on a 10-game winning streak; Northwest Catholic has won 11 of the past 12. Perhaps the biggest thing going for the Trojans, who have some talent up and down the lineup: A lot of them have been here before, when Weston won the Class M title in overtime last year, and some were at least around as freshmen when the Trojans reached the Class M final. This is the first time Northwest Catholic has been past the first round since 2014, when it reached the semifinals. Since the tournament went to three enrollment-based classes in 2006, teams making their first appearance in a CIAC final are 2-8 (Weston in 2007, St. Joseph in 2009, both in Class S).

FORNABAIO’S PICK: Weston

CLASS M

WHO: No. 4 Wilton (18-4) vs. No. 10 Notre Dame-West Haven (15-6)

WHEN: Sunday, 12:30 p.m.

ON THE AIR/WEB: NFHS Network (subscription)

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Wilton: Def. Pomperaug 17-2, Hand 10-9 (OT), Cheshire 14-6. Notre Dame-West Haven: Def. East Lyme 20-8, Avon 10-5, East Catholic 11-5.

CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: Wilton: 11th appearance, 6-4 (Won 1995 Div. I over New Canaan, 1998 Div. I over New Canaan, 1999 Div. I over Darien, 2004 Div. I over New Canaan, 2011 Class M over New Canaan, 2013 Class M over Barlow; lost 1996 Div. I to New Canaan, 2000 Div. I to Darien, 2009 Class M to Darien, 2019 Class L to Darien). Wilton also won 16 championships before CIAC sanction in 1995. Notre Dame-West Haven: First appearance.

KEY PLAYERS: Wilton: Ben Calabrese, Sr. A; Colin Lenskold, Sr. G; Grant Masterson, Sr. M; Jake Sommer, Sr. D. Notre Dame-West Haven: Dom Basti, Soph. M; Aiden Fletcher, Sr. A; Gavin O’Mara, Jr. A; Cooper Savoy, Soph. M.

OUTLOOK: Wilton’s not exactly a fourth seed. Notre Dame-West Haven is not exactly a 10th seed, either. Winning percentage put them there (and enrollment put Wilton in this bracket instead of Class L, where it would rather be, slugging it out with other teams near the top of the GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll, where it’s ranked second behind Darien after reaching the FCIAC final). Here they are, Wilton, the state’s first great power, and Notre Dame, playing its first final after knocking on the door a few times over the past decade. Like Northwest Catholic, this is a tough ask for Notre Dame, which has some talented players — Fletcher is playing on the field that’ll be his home turf come the fall — and played Hand tight in the regular season. But it’s got a tough one here. Masterson, one of the state’s best midfielders, missed much of the season with a knee injury but has returned a postseason difference-maker. Lenskold is arguably the state’s best goalie. Sommer is one of its top defenders. Wilton shook off a sluggish start to beat No. 9 Hand in the quarterfinals. If it needed a wake-up call, that might’ve been it.

FORNABAIO’S PICK: Wilton

CLASS L

WHO: No. 1 Darien (20-2) vs. No. 2 Staples (18-3)

WHEN: Sunday, 3 p.m.

ON THE AIR/WEB: NFHS Network (subscription)

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Darien: Def. Westhill 22-1, Greenwich 16-4, Fairfield Prep 16-9. Staples: Def. NFA 22-1, Fairfield Ludlowe 14-4, Ridgefield 9-8 (OT).

CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: Darien: 17th appearance, 16-2 (won 1997 Div. I over Greenwich, 2000 Div. I over Wilton, 2005 Div. I over McMahon, 2006 Class M over Hand, 2007 Class M over Branford, 2008 Class M over New Canaan, 2009 Class M over Wilton, 2010 Class M over New Fairfield, 2012 Class M over New Canaan, 2014 Class M over New Canaan, 2015 Class L over Ridgefield, 2016 Class L over Simsbury, 2017 Class L over Cheshire, 2019 Class L over Wilton; lost 1999 Div. I to Wilton, 2018 Class L to Ridgefield). Darien was also runner-up to Wilton in the last four state tournaments before CIAC sanction. Staples: Fourth appearance, 0-3 (lost 1999 Div. II to South Windsor, 2013 Class L to Fairfield Prep, 2014 Class L to Greenwich).

KEY PLAYERS: Darien: Matthew Minicus, Sr. A; Joe Cesare, Sr. M; David Evanchick, Sr. D; Tighe Cummiskey, Sr. M/FO. Staples: Charlie Howard, Sr. A; Ryan Thompson, Sr. M; Mike Nealon, Jr. D; Henry Dodge, Sr. M/FO.

OUTLOOK: Yeah, this could be fun. Both teams avenged last year’s Class L playoff exit in the semifinals. Darien has reigned atop the GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll all season, even after its one CIAC loss, to New Canaan (the other was Brunswick); it’s been unanimous since the Blue Wave’s 15-10 win over then-No. 2 Staples on April 28. The Wreckers remained No. 2 until an FCIAC semifinal loss to Wilton; its only other loss was in overtime to Iona Prep of New York. As usual, Darien has top talent all over the field; Minicus, Loyola-bound, may be the state’s top player. Staples has a deep group as well, headlined by Howard, who has eclipsed a couple of program records the past couple of weeks. A most-intriguing matchup could be the very first matchup of the game, at the faceoff X. Dodge has been regarded as one of the best faceoff men around the past few years and was first-team All-FCIAC this season. But Cummiskey (second-team All-FCIAC) and Darien’s wings went on a run that let the Blue Wave take charge in the teams’ regular-season game.

FORNABAIO’S PICK: Darien