Is there a way split-towns like Fairfield can compete with the top schools
While it wasn’t exactly sweltering outside, Tuesday was warm.
With a game-time temperature of about 80 degrees, it was the warmest climate both the New Canaan and Fairfield Ludlowe lacrosse teams have played in during this historically-chilly spring sports season.
And, while that beautiful weather was certainly welcome for the spectators, it had an undeniable impact on the field.
After one quarter, Ludlowe led New Canaan 1-0 and by halftime the Rams were up just 5-3. By the time the final horn sounded however, New Canaan had run away with a 16-5 victory.
While the Rams are the No. 2 team in the state, the final score doesn’t mean they’re 11 goals better than Ludlowe, in fact, both coaches pointed to one specific reason the game got out of hand in the second half—depth.
In the first half, New Canaan rotated in 35 guys at every position put goalie, meaning its starters were well-rested for the second half and could take advantage of a Falcon team that simply does not have that luxury.
“We only have 17 dudes,” longtime Ludlowe coach Chris Parisi said. “They have more guys on the varsity bench than we do in the program.”
The Falcons have the skill, their goalie Carter Leibrock is one of the best in the state and their only two conference losses at this point in the season have come to the state’s two top-ranked programs, Darien and New Canaan.
After each loss, Parisi lauded the level at which those teams performed at but focused on the fact that with so few players, his team can’t prepare in the way that those programs do.
“What does that mean about practice efficiency? reps you can get,” he said. “They can do so many more things. So, 5-3 at half, that tells you how good we are skill-wise, but extended over the course of two halves, the adjustments they can make, the people they can throw at you, the falloff from their top to the next tier is so much thinner than what we have in a split-town like us.”
Dealing with a town that has two public high schools in Ludlowe and Ward is each team’s biggest obstacle. Combine that with Fairfield Prep, who can pick and choose the most talented players to lure to its program, and the Fairfield schools face an uphill climb.
“To get to the upper echelons, we need to consolidate the schools and win some battles with some of the personnel going to Prep who end up washing out of their program sophomore or junior year,” Parisi said. “So that’s it, that’s the simple sauce. Then, we’re more like a Wilton or a Staples in terms of having the concentrated numbers where you can do things.”
It’s an interesting thought.
Co-ops are frequent in both girls and boys hockey around the state—Fairfield even does it for both—and while combining Ward and Ludlowe probably wouldn’t put them in the same echelon as Darien and New Canaan, it could give them the same opportunity that those schools like Wilton and Staples have.
Of course, that can set a dangerous precedent in terms of creating a snowball effect of other schools wanting to combine, but no idea is perfect.
It’s just something to think about.