It was a huge point of pride for Rich Pulisciano that Cheshire was the team to break the Wilton/New Canaan/Darien hold on the Division I boys lacrosse state championship.

It was, as well, that the Rams were the only team from outside Fairfield County to win a Class L championship. They and Somers in Class S are the only teams outside Fairfield County to win CIAC titles since the tournament moved to three enrollment-based classes in 2006.

Pulisciano told his team Monday night that he has retired as the Rams’ head coach after 21 years in charge, which followed five years as an assistant coach.

“Rich has been a major impact in the success of Lacrosse not only with Cheshire High but the growth of the sport within Connecticut,” Cheshire athletic director Steve Trifone said in an email. “His commitment to the program and our student- athletes will be missed. We thank him for his years of dedicated service.”

The Rams were Division I champions in 2002 and Class L victors in 2010. His teams won four SCC titles and were runners-up seven other times.

Pulisciano was inducted into the Connecticut Lacrosse Hall of Fame last year and was several times named state coach of the year.

The Rams went 6-10 this season with only four seniors on the roster, missing the postseason. Pulisciano still departs with over 250 wins.

QUALIFYING ROUNDS: The CIAC tournament officially begins Saturday, with pairings due out Thursday morning. For a few teams around the state, though, the playoffs came early.

From a quick scan of schedules, it appears four CIAC-tournament qualifiers needed to win their final games, and did. A fifth, Norwich Tech/Windham Tech, had a chance to do the same Tuesday evening against Law.

One, Stamford, did it head-to-head: Both the Black Knights and Hamden were 6-9 going into Saturday’s showdown at Boyle Stadium, winner to the Class L tournament, loser out. Stamford took it, 11-2.

Immaculate needed to shake off some injuries and a few tough losses to get into the Class S field at 7-9, but it happened Saturday with a 13-10 win at Suffield.

“We’ve been missing a lot of players,” said coach Greg LaCava, in his first year at Immaculate. “It’s been tough down the stretch, injuries, some other commitments, so on, to keep the team together. Knowing we had to win, the kids responded well.”

They came a couple of overtime losses (hitting posts in overtime in both) from qualifying for the SWC tournament and, maybe, making the CIAC tournament a little earlier, LaCava said. Injuries meant the Mustangs had to cut short plans for a junior varsity.

Still, he’s happy, all in all, with his first year with the Mustangs.

“We’re in a good place going forward,” he said.

Another last-day qualifier was McMahon, which started the season 1-5 and 3-8 and had to deal with the devastating injuries that assistant coach Ty Guarente suffered in a car accident in April.

But the Senators won four of their last five, including the last three in a row, capped by a 20-1 victory over Capital Prep on Friday for Win No. 7.

And then there was Ledyard/Griswold, a first-year co-op. Ledyard went 0-16 last year. Griswold won only two games, both against Ledyard.

The co-op opened the season with a 6-3 win over Old Saybrook. On Monday, it closed the season with its seventh win, 16-5 over Old Saybrook.

“The kids, from 6-3 in the first game to 16-5 in the last game, I think it shows how much they’ve improved but also shows how much they’ve learned,” said coach Josh Spring, who had been Griswold’s coach.

Most of the co-op players are from Ledyard, but the Griswold contingent has been welcomed, Spring said.

The team’s first two chances to clinch a Class M tournament berth were losses to a couple of tough teams, leaving it to the last day.

“The kids, they were ready for it,” Spring said. “The sideline got hyped with every goal. We were just ready to come out and compete. We knew what was on the line.

“If you get into the tournament, you have a chance. Records don’t matter anymore.”

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; http://twitter.com/fornabaioctp