2022 CIAC boys soccer tournament semifinal previews, predictions

Photo of Scott Ericson

There will be at least three new champions in crowned when the CIAC plays its boys soccer finals at Trinity Health (Dillon) Stadium in Harford this weekend. Old Saybrook (Class S) is the lone remaining defending champion of the 16 boys soccer semifinalists.

However, two of the semifinalists, (Cheshire and Ellington) were runner-up last season.

The No. 1 seed in every class advanced to the semifinals except in Class LL where Trumbull lost to No. 16 Greenwich on penalty kicks.

Here's a closer look at Tuesday's semifinal matchups:

CLASS LL

No. 16 Greenwich (12-5-2) vs No. 13 Fairfield Prep (11-3-2)

at Warde High School, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. (site/time changed)

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Greenwich: Def. Farmington 2-1 (4-0 PKs); Trumbull 1-0 (4-3 PKs); Newington 1-0

Fairfield Prep: Def. Westhill 1-0; Glastonbury 1-0 (5-4 PKs); Danbury 4-2

OUTLOOK

Who does not love a FCIAC-SCC matchup with a trip to the state championship on the line? After struggling with injuries early in the season, Greenwich seems mostly intact and playing its best soccer when it matters the most. The Cardinals have also won two of their state tournament games via PKs while Prep got by the second round on PKs. Prep has never won a CIAC boys soccer championship and Greenwich has not won one since 1961. Prep lost in the LL finals in 2012 and Greenwich was runner-up in 2019 to Hall when it made the final as a No. 14 seed. Prep scored a goal in every game it played this season. Greenwich was shut out four times, but only once since Sept. 24.

SCOTT’S PICK

Fairfield Prep

No. 3 Norwalk (16-0-3) vs No. 2 Hall (17-0-2)

at Municipal Stadium Complex, Waterbury, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Norwalk: Def. Southington 8-0; NFA 6-0; South Windsor 5-0

Hall: Def. Ridgefield 2-0; Simsbury 4-1; Warde 6-3

OUTLOOK

If you are looking for a heavyweight fight, look no further as both teams come in with no losses. Norwalk is on as dominant a run as any team has made through Class LL, outscoring three opponents 19-0. Hall has conceded some goals but still has two wins by three goals and another by two. The key for the Bears will be their ability to slow down the Hall offense, led by UConn-bound striker Lucas Almeida and Sam Sadler. Ivan Rojas is an electric scoring threat for Norwalk with Wesleyan-bound Dylan Thomas scoring 13 goals with 10 assists out of the midfield.

SCOTT’S PICK

Hall

CLASS L

No. 4 Guilford (13-3-2) vs No. 1 Cheshire (13-2-1)

at Law High School

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Guilford: Bye;  Def. Masuk 3-0; Hand 1-0 (5-4 PKs)

Cheshire: Bye; Def. Avon 6-2; NDWH 6-0

OUTLOOK

This is the fourth matchup between the SCC rivals this fall with Cheshire winning the previous three, including in the SCC Tournament quarterfinals. The Grizzlies’ only losses this year came to Cheshire and a loss to Xavier, who is alive on the other side of the Class L draw. Guilford has been a defensive team all season, anchored by keeper Justin Hess. Guilford has shut out opponents in 10 games. Cheshire lost in the Class LL final last season, but moved down to Class L this year due to enrollment. The Rams returned many players from the runner-up squad

SCOTT’S PICK

Cheshire

No. 6 Middletown (14-3-2) vs No. 2 Xavier (14-2-2)

at Veteran's Stadium, New Britain

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Middletown: Def. Bristol Central 4-2 (2OT); Abbott Tech 3-0; Bethel 1-0

Xavier: Bye; Def. RHAM 1-0 (3-1 PKs); Pomperaug 2-0

OUTLOOK

Two teams from the same town meeting in state semifinals in any sport is rare. Like Cheshire, Xavier was also a Class LL semifinalist last season before being bumped down to Class L. Both of these teams finished the season strong with Xavier winning its final eight regular season games and Middletown only losing one of its final 12 games. Two of Middletown’s wins came against defending state champions in Farmington and Wethersfield. Xavier has not allowed a goal in the Class M Tournament, fitting with the trend started in the regular season when the Falcons had 13 games with 0 or 1 goal allowed.

SCOTT’S PICK

Xavier

CLASS M

No. 12 Tolland (13-4-2) vs No. 1 Ellington (18-1-0)

at Rockville High School 7 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Tolland: Def. Seymour 8-2; Killingly 5-0; Watertown 4-0

Ellington: Def. Plainville 2-0; Granby 5-0; Suffield 2-1

OUTLOOK

The last three times a Class M Tournament has been held, Ellington has left with the runner-up trophy. It is a spot the Knights have been in before. Since 2013, Ellington has reached six championship games and walked away with one championship, which came in 2014. The team they beat in that 2014 final was Tolland. Tolland is much like Wethersfield last season. Flying under the radar in the stacked CCC where two of their four losses came to teams (Hall, South Windsor) that have reached the Class LL quarterfinals. Goals should be at a premium as Ellington posted shutouts in 15 of its 18 wins and Tolland had 13 games of one or no goals allowed, including two shutouts in the state tournament.

SCOTT’S PICK

Ellington

No. 14 Cromwell (13-4-2) vs No. 7 Weston (15-3-0)

at Pomperaug High School 7:30 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Cromwell: Def. Barlow 1-0; Lewis Mills 2-1; Bacon Academy 3-0

Weston: Def. WCA 6-1; Holy Cross 2-0; Rocky Hill 3-2 (2OT)

OUTLOOK

Despite having some very good teams the past few seasons, Weston has seen its hopes dashed before making the semifinals. It nearly happened again, going to double-overtime against Rocky Hill in the quarterfinals but the Trojans got over that hurdle. Now they have one game to try and reach their first final since 2005 and only third ever with the other coming in 1970. Cromwell beat Barlow in the first round and Barlow defeated Weston 4-2 on Oct. 18.

SCOTT’S PICK

Weston

CLASS S

No. 5 Old Saybrook (16-1-2) vs No. 1 Oxford (18-0-0)

at Veteran’s Stadium, New Britain

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Old Saybrook: Def. Westbrook 3-0; Bolton 2-0; Litchfield 2-0

Oxford: Bye: Def. Immaculate 3-0; Coventry 4-0

OUTLOOK

Oxford is the only team in the state with no losses and no ties. Old Saybrook is the three-time defending Class S champion. It does not get much better in a state semifinal. Neither team has conceded a goal in the tournament and had 16 shutouts between them in the regular season. Oxford has never reached a state championship game while Old Saybrook has played in 11 title games.

SCOTT’S PICK

Old Saybrook

No. 26 Notre Dame-Fairfield (8-7-4) vs No. 3 East Hampton (13-1-1)

at Pomperaug High School, 5 p.m.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Notre Dame: Def. Shepaug 3-0; Somers 2-1; Old Lyme 3-2

East Hampton: Bye; Def. Thomaston 5-0; Canton 3-2 (PKs 5-3)

OUTLOOK

The 28-mile drive from Fairfield to Southbury for the semifinals will be Notre Dame’s shortest of the state tournament with trips of 34, 76 and 54 miles already on the bus. The Lancers have been up to the task, winning all three road games to reach the semifinals as a No. 26 seed. Notre Dame is the youngest team in any tournament with no seniors on the roster. East Hampton has allowed two goals to be scored only three times all season and one of those came in the quarterfinals.

SCOTT'S PICK

East Hampton