FCIAC boys lacrosse preview: FCIAC as competitive as ever
For more than two decades, Darien, Wilton and New Canaan dominated the FCIAC boys lacrosse scene. Greenwich put itself in the mix about 10 years ago, and Ridgefield began making its move in 2008. Now Brien McMahon, Staples and Fairfield Ludlowe are knocking on the door.
Darien, which lost to Ridgefield in the FCIAC Tournament semifinals, but beat rival New Canaan for its ninth Class M championship, is still the squad the teams in the conference get the most pumped up to play. But the FCIAC has more parity then ever and the race for the conference title could be interesting.
"This is an exciting time for our sport, which has grown leaps and bounds," Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. "Before, you would never see a lacrosse game on TV, now you can see three, four, five games per week. You see kids playing a lot more, going to camps and clinics. That's why so many teams around here have improved."
Despite graduating a wealth of talent from last season, including All-Americans Case Matheis (the team's all-time leading scorer), Henry West and Tony Britton, the Blue Wave still have championship aspirations.
"We set the bar really high every year," said Brameier, whose Blue Wave have won 12 FCIAC titles "We would like to win both the FCIAC and state titles, but we know it is going to be very difficult."
After polling the coaches, Greenwich seemed high on everyone's list of top teams. The Cardinals return the most players from last spring's young team -- 35 in all.
"Our players benefited from last year and they are hungry after some teams pushed them around a little bit last year," said Greenwich coach Scott Bulkley, whose Cardinals will be led offensively by Alex Moeser and Kyle Foote. "We are moving in the right direction."
Ridgefield, the runner-up in the FCIAC Tournament the past two seasons, will be once again be one of the teams to beat, as will defending conference champion New Canaan and Wilton (FCIAC, Class M semifinalist). The Rams are led by first-year coach Chip Buzzeo, who replaced Alex Whitten (moved to Va.).
"We are extremely athletic, big, strong and we hit hard," said Buzzeo, who has an All-American defender in Eric Persky. "I've been around lacrosse for 25 years and I've never seen a team go at it on defense like they do."
5 TEAMS TO WATCH
DARIEN: The Blue Wave, who went 11-0 in the FCIAC during the regular season, return captains Sean Foley (midfielder), Kevin Seiler (attackman), Brendan Hathaway (midfielder), Peter Gesualdi (defender) and C.J. Raia (defender). After losing to Ridgefield in the FCIAC semifinals, Darien won the Class M crown, outscoring its foes 62-15 in the tourney.
RIDGEFIELD: Coach Roy Colsey always has his team ready to face all comers. The Tigers, who dropped an 11-9 decision to New Canaan in the 2012 FCIAC final and were edged by Fairfield Prep, 8-6, in the Class L finals, should continue to flourish.
GREENWICH: With the most players returning in the FCIAC, the Cardinals should improve on last year's 9-9 finish.
NEW CANAAN: One of the better defensive teams in the league, the Rams also have some firepower on offense.
WILTON: Winners of 13 FCIAC titles, Wilton advanced to both the FCIAC and Class M finals last season.
TOP 5 OFFENSIVE PLAYERS
Peter Lindley, Darien: The junior attackman should be among the scoring leaders this season, after missing several games with an injury last year. Possessing strong stick skills Lindley (who has committed to UMass) is both a scorer and a distributor.
"He is a great shooter and dodger, he can really finish and is great at distributing the ball as well," Brameier said. "He played great for us in big games."
Alex Moeser, Greenwich: The Hofstra University-bound senior midfielder has tallied clutch goals for the Cardinals since his freshman year.
"Alex is a tough matchup for everyone," Bulkley said. "He can shoot the lights out and put on 20 pounds of muscle to prep himself for the season."
Zach Bartolo, Brien McMahon: The Senators missed the 6-4, 235-pounder's presence on the field during the several games he missed due an injury last season. Now healthy, the Notre Dame-bound Bartolo is primed for a standout season.
Will Bonaparte, Ridgefield: Versatility is Bonaparte's main asset. The junior two-way midfielder takes the faceoffs for the Tigers, but is also a potent scorer. Bonaparte, an All-FCIAC Second Team Selection last season, has made a verbal commitment to Maryland.
Joey Zelkowitz, Staples: The senior midfielder is as hard to catch with a lacrosse stick in his hand as he on the football field. An explosive scorer, Zelkowitz helps make the Wreckers a dangerous squad.
TOP 5 DEFENSIVE PLAYERS
Eric Persky, New Canaan: Defense is the strength of this squad and Persky, a three-year starter, anchors the unit. The senior, who earned All-American, All-FCIAC honors last spring, will play at the University of Pennsylvania next.
Phil Huffard, Darien: Huffard, a junior goalie, was one of the reasons why Darien was tough to score on last season. Adept at making plays out of the crease and executing strong outlet passes, Huffard (who has already committed to Yale) emerged as one of the top netminders as a sophomore.
Nick Wells, Wilton: An First Team All-FCIAC selection last season, Wells is regarded as one of the best defensemen in the area, displaying his aggressive play and knack for forcing turnovers.
Jack Harrington, Greenwich: The 6-foot-3 junior, who earned a starting role as a freshman, was named to the All-FCIAC Second Team last spring. He will play at Duke University after his Cardinals career concludes.
Jack Nail, Greenwich: A junior, the aggressive Nail will help anchor the Cardinals' defense.
5 GAMES TO WATCH
RIDGEFIELD AT DARIEN, MAY 7, 4:30 p.m.: The Blue Wave and Tigers rivalry has picked up steam in recent years. This matchup will be a rematch of last year's FCIAC Tournament semifinals, won by Ridgefield, 12-11.
DARIEN AT NEW CANAAN, APRIL 16, 5 p.m.: The defending FCIAC champion Rams suffered an 11-5 loss to the Blue Wave in last year's CIAC Class M finals.
RIDGEFIELD AT GREENWICH, APRIL 3, 4:30 P.M.: This marks the third straight season the Tigers and Cardinals are playing each other in the season-opener.
STAPLES AT BRIEN MCMAHON, MAY 9, 7 P.M.: The Wreckers and Senators have the talent to advance deep into the FCIAC and state tournaments and this late season matchup could determine seeding for the postseason.
WILTON AT NEW CANAAN, APRIL 3, 7 P.M.: The formidable Warriors and Rams always seem to meet in the postseason. New Canaan topped Wilton, 11-6, in last season's FCIAC semifinals.
TOP PLAYERS BY TEAM
Brien McMahon: Andrew D'Antonio, Sr. A/MF; Zach Bartolo Sr., A; Josh Miller, Jr., G; Ryan Davis, MF; John Takita, Sr., A; Channing Thomas, Jr., D; Alex Farris, Sr., A; Vincent Busbee, MF; James Campbell, So., MF; Chris Gatt, So., MF; Matt Hargrove, Jr., D; Bryce Muldoon Jr., D; Dan Medico, Sr., D; Finn Maloney, So., D.
Darien: Kevin Seiler, Sr., A; Sean Foley, Sr. MF; Brendan Hathaway, Sr., MF; Peter Gesualdi, Sr., MF; Phill Huffard, Jr., G; Peter Lindley, Jr., A; Sam Meyjes, Jr., D; Kyle Cornell, Jr., MF; John Reed, Jr., A; Harry Gillespie, Jr., MF; Brad McCarthy, Jr., D; Kyle Gifford, Jr., D; Christian Cochran, Jr. D; Jack Feeley, So., D; Owen Koorbusch, Jr., MF; Ian Burgoyne, So., MF
Greenwich: Alex Moeser, Sr. A; Kyle Foote, Jr., MF; Ryan Flippin, Jr., MF; Decker Curran, So., MF; Will Gibian, Sr., A; Jamie Paradise, Jr., A; John Tooher, So., A; Sam Saleeby, Jr., MF; Kelley Jay, Jr., MF; Alex Oropall, So., MF; Kevin Davis, Jr., MF; Reed Brady, Sr., MF; Shawn Dunster, Sr., MF; Graham Savio, Sr., MF; Jack Harrington, Jr., D; Jack Nail, Jr., D; Dan Griffin, Sr., D; Cole Perry, Jr., D; William Waesche, Sr., G; Tommy Rogan, So., G; Griffin Tiedy, So., D; Michael Ellsworth, Sr., MF
New Canaan: Eric Persky, Sr., D; John Rhudy, Sr., D; Paul Krith, Sr., A; Duke Repko, Sr., MF; Teddy Bossidy, Jr., A; Puck Richardson, Sr., MF; Robby Paul, Sr. A; Austin Nadar, Sr., A; Pete Johnson, Sr., A; Harry Stanton, Sr., A; Cole Turpin, Jr., MF.
Norwalk: Steven Grimm, Sr., A; Tyler Brown, Sr. D; Danny Jakab, Sr., M; Luke Sweeney, Sr., D; Brandon Scicchitano, Sr., G; Zach Grimm, So., MF; Myles White, Sr., MF;
Ridgefield: Will Bonaparte, Jr., MF; Brett Baker, Sr., A; Bradley Alexander, So., MF; Logan Byers, Jr., MF; Tim Cozens, Sr., MF; Cal Dearth, Sr., MF; Kevin McLam Sr., MF; Sam Gravitte, Sr., D; Sam Boehle, Jr., D; Harrison Mauldin, Sr., D; Connor Thuss, Sr., D; Chad Molyneux, Sr., G; Conor Shannon, Sr., G; Dan Ohrem, Jr. A; Nicholas Esemplare, Jr., A
Stamford: Devin Camlin, Jr. G; Alfred Fusco, Sr. D; Matt Mcgoldrick, Jr., D; Scott Polonia, Sr., D
Staples: Joey Zelkowitz, Sr., MF; Colin Bannon, Sr., A; Jared Live, Sr., MF; Lance Lonergan, Sr., D; Cole Gendels, Jr., G; Patrick Lesch, MF; Quinn Mendelson Sr., D; Greg Strauss, Sr., MF; James Hines, Sr., G.; William Johnson, Jr. MF; Tucker Bobrow, So., A; Jon Pacilio, Jr., A; Isaac Paparo, MF; Teddy Coogan, So., MF; Ben Bjornson, Jr., D; Eric Zurmuehel, Jr., MF; Jack Greenwald, Jr., MF; Alex Yass, Sr., D; Garrett Jordan, Sr., MF.
St. Joseph: Zach Psaras, Sr., MF; Ryan Mulligan, Sr., MF; Ryan Corcoran, Jr., MF; Jorge Yoguez, Jr., D; Mike Aitoro, Sr., A; Jeff Marcantonio, Jr., A; Mike Sudora, Fr., MF; Chris Klabonsnki, Fr., MF; Travis Yoguez, So., MF.
Trumbull: AJ DiMasi, Sr, A; Luke Pearson, So., A; Sam Watson, So., A; Devin Hunt, Sr., MF; Jacob Klas, Sr., MF; Kyle Foito, Sr., MF; Steve Kelley, Jr., MF; Jacob Howes, So., MF; Chris Ericson, Sr., D; Dan Paolino, Sr., D; Danny Forren, So., G
Westhill: Matt Schwartz, Sr., MF; Dan McArthur, Sr., MF; Ryan Silk, Sr., A; Justin Antonucci, Sr., A/MF; Chris Kober, Sr., A; Evan Shaulson, Sr., MF; Ryan DiPietro, F, MF; Mike Rybl Jr., MF; Tom Andrianos, Jr., MF; Brendan Ronan, So., D; Jacob Scarvey, So., D; John Costello, So., D; Nick Jimenez, Sr. G.
Wilton: Connor Johnson, Sr., G; Nick Wells, Sr., D; Ted Ottens, Sr., MF; Mike Burns Sr., MF; Luke Reyes Guerra-Dunnsenior, MF; Tommy Hayes, Sr., MF; Brendan DeVane, Jr., A; Henry Lee, Sr., D; Mike Lasala, Sr., D; Sean Roberts, Sr., D; Mike Brown, Sr., D; Alex Pagliaro, Sr., A