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Thursday, March 22 Sports

Elite teams of the season in town: Spring's Super Special Squads

To single out the top teams among Fairfield Warde, Fairfield Ludlowe, Fairfield Prep and Notre Dame-Fairfield from the past spring sports season is no easy task. And it is fraught with claims of subjective analysis, when the intention is to undergo this endeavor with an objective eye.

If these words have a familiar ring, that's because they are essentially what was written for this column's debut in the autumn for the Fall Fab Five and the second installment in the winter, Wonderful Winter Winners.

Here we go:

High honorable mention (a complete honorable mention list would take up the entire sports section):

Fairfield Ludlowe baseball (13-9). The Falcons, who were 13-7 in the regular season, were eliminated in the first round of the CIAC Class LL baseball tournament as the No. 11 seed by New Britain. They lost in the first round of the FCIAC tournament to St. Joseph after earning the No. 6 seed. Senior Kevin Hickey was one of four first-team all-conference pitchers. Senior Mikey Arman was one of five first-team All-FCIAC outfielders.

Fairfield Warde boys lacrosse (12-7). The Mustangs had a breakthrough year by reaching the FCIAC tournament for the first time and recording their first win all-time against Wilton, the state leader with 22 state championships. Warde lost to Greenwich 14-5 in the FCIAC quarterfinals, then upset No. 6 Glastonbury 7-4 in the Class L first-round. The season ended with a 9-4 loss to No. 3 Ridgefield in the quarterfinals. Senior captain Brian Kerrigan was second-team all-conference on defense. Seniors Kyle Scheetz (attack) and Jason Nerreau (goalie) and junior attacker Brendan King were all FCIAC honorable mention selections. All four were heroic in the overtime victory over Wilton that helped get the Mustangs' into the conference tournament.

Fairfield Warde girls track (12-1). The only regular-season loss in the FCIAC dual-meet season by the Mustangs was to Darien, which won the State Open team title. Warde finished 14th of 17 teams at the FCIAC Championships but rebounded emphatically with a third-place finish at the CIAC Class L championship meet on June 2 in Middletown among 23 schools that scored team points. There, senior Cate Allen won the 800 and 1,600 and came within an eyelash of sweeping the three distance events by placing second in the 3,200. Senior Rachel Maltz placed third in the javelin in Class L and junior Steph Sheehan won bronze in the 300 hurdles in the state meet. Sheehan was fifth in the 100 hurdles. Allen placed fourth in the State Open 1,600 a week later, beating the previous meet record and setting a school record in 4:49.33.

Fairfield Ludlowe softball (16-7). The Falcons stood at 11-1, following an 11-game winning streak, on May 5 but finished up the season by winning five of their last 11 games, losing in the Class LL second round on a one-hitter by Cheshire's pitcher. Ludlowe was the No. 9 seed in the tournament. It was eliminated by Stamford in the FCIAC quarterfinals. Senior Brenna Martini, a slugger and slick-fielding third baseman, became the first player in school history to make first-team All-State.

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Notre Dame baseball (19-6). SWC champions. The Lancers won the SWC tournament as the No. 4 seed over No. 3 Pomperaug 9-6 in eight innings, but were eliminated in Class S second round by Morgan-Clinton 7-0. Sophomore Dillon Stimpson was the staff ace and earned the save over Pomperaug. Brendan Barger was named MVP of the conference tournament. Spencer Bassett, Matt Coppola, Mark Komaromi, Matt Laskey, Matt Moffat and Collin Cegelka were among the crew that supplied timely hitting and solid fielding throughout the season.

The Fab Five

Spring's Super Special Squads

5. Fairfield Prep baseball (18-5). No. 1 seed Class LL tournament, No. 1 SCC tournament. After reaching the Class LL semifinals in 2013 and with plenty of talent returning, the Jesuits were focused on going farther this spring. They went 17-3 in the regular season but lost in the SCC semifinals to Xavier and to Amity in the second round of the state playoffs as the Spartans repeated as state champions, eliminating Prep as well last year. Senior Shawn Blake and juniors Kevin Stone and Simon Whiteman were each All-Quinnipiac Division players in the SCC.

4. Fairfield Prep lacrosse (14-6). SCC Champions for fourth straight year. No. 10 seed Class L tournament. Eliminated by Greenwich in quarterfinals by 9-8 after ousting the Cardinals several times in recent years. That ended the Jesuits' bid for a three-peat. Senior midfielder Austin Sims was named All-America, SCC Player of The Year and first-team All-State in Class L. Two other Prep players were first-team All-State as well -- junior attacker John Edmonds and senior defender Anthony Johnson. Five Jesuits were chosen second-team All-State -- sophomore goalie Jack O'Connor, senior short-stick defensive midfielder Ted Long, senior defender Max Trudeau, junior midfielder Cameron Harris and senior attacker Burke Smith. Each of these players, along with midfielders Patrick Lambert and Nick Franchuck, were all-conference players.

3. Fairfield Warde girls lacrosse (15-6-1). No. 5 seed Class L tournament. No. 7 seed FCIAC tournament. The best girls lacrosse team in school history that posted its first two state tournament victories -- against West Haven in the first round and Hall in the quarterfinals -- after losing the first game in all previous tourney-qualifying years. Lost to eventual Class M runners-up New Canaan in the FCIAC quarterfinals. Eliminated in the Class L semifinals by state runners-up Glastonbury. Junior Sarah Reilly was a second team All-FCIAC midfielder and sophomore Rebekah Snitkoff was second team all-conference in goal. Junior Meredith Nerreau and sophomore defender Kelly Milicia were honorable mention All-FCIAC. This season, Warde joined Class L champions Darien, Class M finalists Wilton (champions) and New Canaan and three-time champion Greenwich as state powers from the FCIAC.

2. Fairfield Warde baseball (18-9). FCIAC champions. Class LL semifinalist as No. 15 seed. The Mustangs stood at 10-7 overall on May 15 after a lopsided loss to Trumbull, then after one more loss they got red hot and reeled off eight wins in a row that carried them not only into the conference tournament with the first two victories in that string but to the FCIAC title with victories over Darien, St. Joseph and Trumbull, beating the Eagles 4-0 in the conference final. Wins in the state playoffs against South Windsor, Staples and Trumbull brought them to the semifinals against perennial state power Southington where the Blue Knights beat Warde 6-5 to wrap up the remarkable run for the Mustangs. The hot stretch featured sound and occassionally spectacular fielding and timely hitting. But it was fueled by outstanding starting pitching from junior Nick Nardone, sophomore Reece Maniscalco and senior Hunter Hewitt. The turning point could have been a 17-3 loss to Trumbull in which coach Mark Caron delivered the appropriate motivational message. After that, a good team became a great team. Many players who hadn't been began stepping oup. Nardone was first team All-FCIAC as an infielder, Mike Foley first team as well as an outfielder.

1. Fairfield Ludlowe girls tennis (24-1). FCIAC champions for second year in a row; CIAC Class L state champions; No. 2 seed FCIAC tournament; No. 1 seed Class L tourney. The only obstacle that prevented a perfect year was a late regular-season 4-3 loss to Darien in Fairfield on May 19 to end the season-opening unbeaten streak and leave the Falcons as the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. Junior Lindsey Evans, who played No. 1 singles, was the State Open runner-up, after reaching the Final Four in 2013. But Evan, who was back-to-back FCIAC MVP, didn't have the best record on the team, at 25-2. Senior captain Daria Efimov, playing at No. 3 singles, went 24-1. Cami Adajian, at No. 2, compiled a 27-1 record, reaching the third round of the State Open. Junior Kyra Adajian, at No. 4, had a 22-1 record. In total, Falcons' singles players went 97-3 on the season. The doubles teams had winning records by wide margins as well. Lexi Brown and Julia Cheung, at No. 3 doubles, lost four matches all season, two of which came in the state tournament, both in three sets.