What to know about the 2022 CIAC boys soccer state tournaments

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Hall on a mission

Hall rolled to the 2019 Class LL title and was bringing back an even stronger team in 2020 but lost that season to the pandemic. Last season, Hall was unbeaten in the regular season and the No. 2 seed in LL but lost on penalty kicks to eventual champions Farmington in the quarterfinals. Hall (14-0-2) is again the No. 2 seed in LL and again expectations in West Hartford are championship or bust. Hall could get a rematch of its season opener against Simsbury in the second round and Newtown or East Hartford could be looming in the quarterfinals.

Going for four

Old Saybrook has a chance to do something in Class S which has not been done since the 1980s, win four-straight state championships. The last team to win four straight in Class S was Granby from 1984-87. Hand accomplished the four-peat in Class L from 2016-2019. The Rams will open against Shoreline foe Westbrook and if things stay true to form, could see No. 4 seeded Litchfield (13-1-2) in the quarterfinals. Old Saybrook coach Steve Waters won his 10th state championship last season, but first with the Rams. The state’s career coaching victories leader won his other nine at Farmington. He won state titles at Farmington in Class LL, L and M. Now has one in Class S. He is believed to be the only boys soccer coach with state titles in all four classes and can add to that resume by repeating as champions in multiple classes.

Shuffling down

In the 2021 Class LL semifinals, Xavier and Cheshire played in a game for the ages with Cheshire advancing 2-1 (8-5 in PKs). After a reshuffling of classes due to enrollment, Cheshire and Xavier now find themselves in Class L where they enter the tournament as the top two seeds. Both teams get byes in the first round as only 28 teams qualified in Class L. A meeting in the finals is no guarantee with quality teams from the CCC, SWC and SCC all throughout the Class L bracket. Fun fact: Two SCC schools have never played each other for a boys soccer state championship.

FCIAC drought

With no teams winning a state title since 2013, the FCIAC is in a state title drought. In fact, when Wilton (Class L ) and Greenwich (Class LL) reached championship games in 2019, it marked the first finalists for the conference since Darien in 2015. The FCIAC had no finalists last year. There are serious contenders to end the drought in No. 1 seeded Trumbull, No. 3 Norwalk and No. 11 Darien. Despite being the top seed, Trumbull has to face a very tough Amity team out of the SCC in the first round and then gets the winner of Greenwich and defending champions Farmington in the second round. Darien’s draw of Conard and then potentially South Windsor makes reaching the quarterfinals difficult. Darien and Conard tied this season in the CCC-FCIAC Challenge game held in Farmington.

All roads lead to Hartford

For the second-straight year, Trinity Health Stadium (Dillon Stadium) will host both the boys and girls CIAC state soccer championships Nov. 19-20. Good news for soccer fans, last week the Hartford Athletic announced that the stadium will continue to host the CIAC state boys and girls soccer championship games through the 2024 season. The agreement gives soccer players a destination to shoot for along with a title. Just as basketball players dream of playing at Mohegan Sun, the professional soccer stadium is now a beacon for all CIAC soccer players.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Lucas Almeida, Hall, Sr., F

The UConn-bound striker is the all-time leading scorer at Hall with 96 career goals heading into the postseason. He has been a GameTimeCT First Team All-State pick twice, was the 2021 CSCA Connecticut Player of The Year, All-CCC, CHSCA All-State, All-New England and All-American as a junior and is widely considered the best player in the state.

Owen Bull, Trumbull, Jr. F

Bull has been lighting it up in the FCIAC all season with 28 goals. The Eagles have a very balanced attack but it is Bull who can score given just a little bit of space and is extremely accurate on set pieces.

Matthew Dima, Oxford, Sr. F

Oxford is 19-0 and the No. 1 seed in Class S after winning its first NVL title where Dima was named MVP of the tournament. Dima has been lighting up scoreboards in the NVL and now s ready to show the state what he has got.

Samir Dishnica, Cheshire, Sr. M

The SCC Player of the Year will be leading an experienced Ram’s team into Class L. Dishnica is a playmaker out of the midfield who can get the offense started and can finish and score himself.

Nolan Keane, Pomperaug, Sr. F

Pomperaug is a 10 seed in Class L but the draw could open up for the Panthers. If they are to make a run, they will need Keane to shine at striker. Keane scored game-winning goals twice in the SWC tournament, being named MVP.

CLASS LL

2021 champion: Farmington

Favorites: Hall, Trumbull, Glastonbury

Dark horses: Newtown, Newington, South Windsor, Darien

CLASS L

2021 champion: Wethersfield

Favorites: Cheshire, Xavier, Bethel

Dark horses: Brookfield, Hand, Pomperaug, East Lyme

CLASS M

2021 champion: Stonington

Favorites: Ellington, Weston, Windham

Dark horses: Stonington, Bacon Academy, Barlow, Suffield

CLASS S

2021 champion: Old Saybrook

Favorites: Old Saybrook, East Hampton, Oxford

Dark horses: Immaculate, Canton, Somers