FCIAC boys soccer might be getting even more competitive
STAMFORD — Last season, the Greenwich (13-0-3) and Trumbull (12-0-4) boys soccer teams took the whole no-loss thing as far as it could go.
After each finished the regular season undefeated, winning two games apiece in the FCIAC tournament, they battled each other through two overtimes until being declared co-champions.
Both teams lost in Class LL state tournament quarterfinals as did Staples. Eleven FCIAC teams qualified for the LL tournament and six of those teams were eliminated by fellow league foes.
“The competition in this league is always good,” Greenwich coach Kurt Putnam said Monday night at the inaugural league media night at the Bobby Valentine Sports Academy. “You don’t ever get an easy game in the FCIAC. Last year, Trumbull and Greenwich set themselves apart and our records spoke to that and the best two teams in the conference ended up playing in the final.”
Danbury seemingly advanced to the Class LL championship game last season before having a player ruled ineligible, turning a semifinal win into a loss.
The Hatters would have been the 10th FCIAC team to play in a boys LL final since 2004. In those years, Ridgefield (2007, co-champs 2013), Staples (2009) and Norwalk (2012) won titles while five teams finished as runners-up.
“I coached in the SWC before this and you could go and pencil in a few wins, but you can’t do that here,” Danbury coach Anthony Howard said. “It just goes to show that if you don’t turn up you will drop points. This is no doubt the toughest league in the state. We came out against Hall in the state tournament last year and I think we shocked them with our high level of intensity. Hall’s coach complimented us on our intensity and I said we have been doing this for 10 weeks. We’ve had to play at this intensity every game in the FCIAC.”
It all speaks to the sustained success of the league, especially among the top teams.
As the coaches munched on pizza, the chatter focused on the competitive nature of the FCIAC and how the standings could get even tighter this season with Danbury, Trumbull and Greenwich taking significant graduation losses.
It seems hard to imagine that a league so competitive top to bottom can get tougher, but nearly every coach talked about running through the brutal FCIAC schedule.
“I do not know any other sport where you have to battle virtually every game,” Staples coach Dan Woog said. “You have to get yourself mentally and physically up for every game. It is grueling and exhausting and a ton of fun. When we all get to the state tournament we are like tarantulas in the jar all cannibalizing each other.”
Last season, Westhill was 7-9 in league play but was within striking distance in nearly every game, speaking to the depth in the league.
“I think there is so much parity,” Westhill coach Joe Andrew said. “Every game is so competitive and I think that is what we all enjoy so much about playing and coaching in the league.”