STAMFORD -- Parity -- that was one of the common words used by numerous FCIAC boys lacrosse coaches during Thursday's FCIAC Lacrosse Kickoff Night at BlueStreak Sports Training in Stamford.
Almost all of the coaches in the conference attended the event, where they shared their views on the upcoming season and on the boys side of the spectrum, parity was indeed, one of the themes.
"With the growth of lacrosse in the country, you are seeing parity at all levels," Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. "It's a testament to how popular the sport has gotten. There are premier players on every team in the league."
Wilton has won 13 FCIAC championships, Darien has 12 and New Canaan has nine conference titles. Yet in recent years, more teams have emerged as contenders. Ridgefield and Greenwich have challenged for the conference championship, while teams such as Staples and Brien McMahon have begun to make their marks.
"I think we'll see more even more parity than we did last year," New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said. "Games will be intense early on in the season and will have a playoff-type atmosphere based on the kids they have coming back. A lot of teams are returning star players."
The Rams, who have won the FCIAC title the past two seasons, bring back Harry Stanton, Michael Kraus and goalie Trent Nader, to name just a few. Stanton was the MVP of the Rams' 8-5 win over Greenwich in the FCIAC finals last spring. Standout goalie Phil Huffard and offensive star Peter Lindley should help make the Blue Wave one of the teams to beat, while Greenwich hopes to build on last season's success with the return of attackman Kyle Foote and defender Jack Harrington.
"With the experience we have comes confidence and with confidence comes the ability to play looser as a team and make plays," GHS coach Scott Bulkley said.
On the girls side, Darien seems to be the team every squad is looking up to. Coach Lisa Lindley's squad has garnered 12 FCIAC championships and shows no signs of slowing down. The Blue Wave also won the Class L crown a year ago, topping Greenwich in the title game.
"I am enthusiastic and positive about our team," said Lindley, who returns All-Americans Dillon Schoen and Emily Stein. "One thing about us is we have incredible depth. Even though I graduated three All-Americans we reloaded. If we play to our true ability it will be tough to beat us."
Senior Carolyn Paletta, who earned All-American honors last spring, will be relied upon to help spark a talented Greenwich squad, while New Canaan and Wilton will no doubt, be among the top teams in the conference.
"I am really excited about the season," Paletta said. "A lot of our girls are newcomers and they are excited about joining our team and becoming leaders. There is just a great team vibe and I think we're ready to build on last season's success."