Capsule look at regional state high school soccer finals
Updated 12:20 am, Thursday, November 22, 2012
No. 1 Norwalk (20-1-1) vs. No. 3 Fairfield Prep
WHAT: Boys Class LL final
WHEN: Friday, 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Dunning Field, New Canaan
ROAD TO FINAL: Norwalk: beat No. 32 Hamden 5-1; beat No. 17 Staples 1-0; beat No. 9 Newtown 2-1; beat No. 12 Stamford 2-1; Fairfield Prep: beat No. 30 Fairfield Ludlowe 1-0; beat No. 19 New Milford 5-0; beat No. 11 Conard 2-1 (2 OT); beat No. 7 Greenwich 1-0 (7-5 PKs)
CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: Norwalk (1): Class L (1966); Fairfield Prep: none
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Norwalk: Sr. For. Nacho Navarro; Sr. Mid. Kevin Joslyn; Sr. Mid. Santiago Muriel. Fairfield Prep: Sr. GK Will Steiner; Jr. For. Austin Sims; Sr. Mid. Davie Bruton
SKINNY: This should be good. The Bears, led by their highly-regarded senior class, are trying to put their names down in the annals of history vs. the Jesuits, and their stingy defense, trying to win the school's first title. Beyond that it's an excellent tactical matchup of the skilled offensive and flashy attackers of Norwalk against Fairfield Prep's first-rate possession game, which allows the opposition few chances. Whichever team can maintain its tempo over the 80 minutes should have the upper hand. One mistake might be all it takes to win this one. The X-factor could be Austin Sims. When he's on his game, the Jesuits junior is basically unplayable in the final third.
PREDICTION: Fairfield Prep 1, Norwalk 0
No. 2 Avon (17-1-2) vs.
No. 4 Masuk (16-2-3)
WHAT: Girls Class L final
WHEN: Friday, 11 a.m.
WHERE: Falcon Field, Meriden
ROAD TO FINAL: Avon: beat No. 31 Bethel 1-0; beat No. 15 Bunnell 4-0; beat No. 7 Barlow 2-1; beat No. 11 Pomperaug 3-1; Masuk: beat No. 29 Fitch 3-2; beat No. 20 E. O. Smith 2-0; beat No. 5 Watertown 1-0 (OT); beat No. 1 East Lyme 1-0 (3-2 PKs).
CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: Avon (4); Class L (2011); Class M (2001, 2002, 2003); Masuk: none
SKINNY: With a win here Avon can claim the Class L title and maybe lay claim to a part of the SWC crown as well as the Falcons have only played teams from that conference in the state playoffs. This is Masuk's first state final appearance. The Panthers, although lacking a star offensive player like in years past, have gotten here with a collective approach and a lot of hard work. One thing Masuk needs to do in order to bring hardware back to Monroe is finish its chances. The Panthers haven't scored a goal in open play since the second round, needing an Emily Montgomery freekick in overtime vs. Watertown and penalty kicks vs. East Lyme to advance. After years of coming up just short -- Masuk had been 0-7 in state semifinals -- perhaps luck is on the side of coach Eleanor Brainard this time.
PREDICTION: Masuk 2, Avon 1
No. 1 Northwest Catholic (18-0-1) vs. No. 6
St. Joseph (18-2-2)
WHAT: Girls Class M final
WHEN: Friday, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Municipal Stadium, Waterbury
ROAD TO FINAL: Northwest Catholic: bye; beat No. 16 Weston 4-0; beat No. 8 Nonnewaug 5-0; beat No. 4 Lewis Mills 5-1; St. Joseph: beat No. 27 Plainfield 5-0; beat No. 11 Waterford 4-0; beat No. 3 Suffield 4-3; beat No. 10 Rocky Hill 6-0.
CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: Northwest Catholic (2): Class M (2009, 2011); St. Joseph (2): Class M (2007, 2008)
SKINNY: Expect goals in this one. Lots of goals. The Indians have outscored opponents 14-1 in three tournament games, while the Cadets have bettered the opposition at a 16-3 clip in four. Northwest Catholic is in the Class M final for the third time in four years and comes into Friday's game with a 39-game unbeaten streak. St. Joseph hasn't lost since September and the FCIAC co-champ appears to be playing its best soccer of the year thanks to the dangerous, technical attacking play of Grasso and Bike. Whichever team is a little sturdier in the back wins this one.
PREDICTION: Northwest Catholic 3, St. Joseph 2