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Pickens' Perspective: Wrapping up fall 2012

Published 7:10 pm, Thursday, November 29, 2012
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This is the postseason award wrap-up column.

It's become a staple that I hope you've grown to expect by now. Each season gets ample coverage, and then gets wrapped up when it ends. It's part of the fun of covering each season: the opportunity to gauge some of the most fun games, quotes, teams and experiences against each other.

This season was devoid of a state champion, although there were two squads which earned conference championships, Fairfield Prep boys soccer and Fairfield Ludlowe girls volleyball. In all, eight Fairfield teams qualified for state tournaments -- not including the cross country teams which all raced in their respective conference and state tournaments.

It also was a season dominated by weather. After a tame first month-and-a-half, Superstorm Sandy and the subsequent winter storm wrecked havoc on the schedules. Tuesday's snowstorm -- though it did not impact Fairfield's schedule -- further delayed many of the football quarterfinal games.

With all that as a back drop, let's look back at the season that was Fall 2012.

Best Game: Warde vs. Ludlowe, boys soccer, Oct. 8:

This one had it all. Obviously the rivalry between the schools, which propagated chants back and forth. Ludlowe scored just 12 seconds into the game en route to building a 3-1, second-half advantage. The Mustangs struck back with two goals in the last 29 minutes to earn a 3-3 draw.

Other games considered: Greenwich vs. Prep, boys soccer; Conard vs. Prep, boys soccer; Ludlowe vs. Staples, boys soccer; Ludlowe vs. Warde, girls soccer; Ludlowe vs. Norwalk, football.

Best Team: Fairfield Prep boys soccer.

The Jesuits had their best season to date, finishing 20-3-1 and edging-out Ludlowe girls volleyball for this honor.

Prep reached the state finals, gaining its second straight SCC championship. Villanova-bound keeper Will Steiner and Prep's defense spearheaded the Jesuits' run, conceding just 10 goals in 24 games.

Prep also managed to cut its ties-- a point of emphasis by second-year coach Ryan Lyddy. The Jesuits tied seven games in 2011, but only drew Newtown on opening night.

Best athlete: Christian Alvarado, Fairfield Prep cross country.

Alvarado is the lone fall athlete still competing. Thanks to his eighth-place finish at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships, the junior runner has qualified for nationals at Balboa Park in San Diego. I, for one, am jealous.

But Alvarado earned it, especially since he overcame a stress fracture in his foot earlier this year. I'm positive this won't be the last time we utter his name in this space.

Best coaching performance: Matt Narwold, Warde girls volleyball.

I could wax poetic -- and have -- on Narwold's crosstown counterpart, Meghan Skelton, but Warde's coach has boosted the school's program the same way Skelton did at Ludlowe. Warde's season, this year, reminded me of the Falcons' 2008 campaign, in which they went 13-8. The next year they reached the state finals.

The Mustangs were 12-8, won all the matches they were supposed to and even stunned Ridgefield in their state tournament opener. Warde's now an established program under Narwold, having reached the state tournament three straight years. And with only four seniors departing, next year looks good.

Best storyline: Fairfield Ludlowe football.

Most of you know this story by now. The Falcons were 1-5, and their head coach Matt McCloskey announced his resignation. Four straight wins to close the year helped Ludlowe finish as Fairfield's second best football team -- record-wise -- this year.

Biggest Jekyll and Hyde team: Fairfield Prep football.

The Jesuits blasted Cheshire, Branford and Shelton-- three teams which finished .500 or better-- by a combined 129-15. Prep also lost to a pair of 4-6's, Amity and ND-West Haven -- the latter coming at home and dooming their playoff hopes. Tom Shea had high hopes for this year, and I know Prep losing three of its last four makes him ache.

Best quote: Emily Nelson, Ludlowe girls volleyball.

"To win 3-0, it's like a wake-up call that we can win and we're great and it builds our confidence and I don't know."

Nelson's post-match quote -- recorded after Ludlowe's 3-0, Class LL quarterfinal win over Newtown on Nov. 13 -- wins because as that sentence goes on, her tone builds to a crescendo and the last seven words were sung.

That wraps up another season. Have a concern with any awards? Let me know.

Winter, here we come.

ppickens@bcnnew.com; twitter.com/Pat_Pickens

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