CIAC teams to remain in same regions for postseason

Nathan Bennett and the Wilton boys soccer team will be able to play for an FCIAC division title this fall.

Nathan Bennett and the Wilton boys soccer team will be able to play for an FCIAC division title this fall.

Gretchen McMahon / For Hearst Connecticut Media

The CIAC’s postseason tournament experience will be held Nov. 7-20. Teams can play anywhere from two to four postseason games..

But teams for all sports will remain in the same region they reside in currently for continued safety precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These determinations were made earlier last week when the CIAC met with league commissioners.

“We are not hosting a [state] tournament this year as much as we would love to,” said Gregg Simon, the CIAC’s associate executive director. “It is not something we can endorse at this time. I’m sure our member schools will do what they think is best to give the student athletes that (postseason) experience. It will be a fun way to finish a season which a lot of people thought would never happen.”

Simon said leagues had until this Tuesday to submit their postseason plans to the CIAC.

“If you asked anyone in August if we would get to November, I’m not sure anyone would have said yes for sure,” said South-West Conference co-commissioner Mark Berkowitz, also the athletic director at Weston. “It now looks like there is a good chance to get there. … it’s an opportunity to play for the title, a culmination. The opportunity to give teenagers some normalcy right now is awesome.”

This tournament experience will obviously not allow the traditional state tournament format. But it allows every team a chance to participate, regardless of record.

Also, teams will get a chance to play more postseason games even with a first-round loss.

Ridgefield and the other teams in the FCIAC will crown three division champions in four sports (boys and girls soccer, field hockey, and girls volleyball). No dates for the finals have been set yet.

FCIAC commissioner Dave Schulz said the league cross country meet likely will be held at Waveny Park in New Canaan. The results from the regional championships will determine how many participants for the championship, but only 50 runners are allowed per race due to current state protocol. So that will result in staggered start times, both boys and girls, throughout the day.

Both the South-West Conference and Southern Connecticut Conference will hold virtual meets for their girls swimming championships and in-person meets for the diving championships. The FCIAC championship meet could be virtual as well.

“The bottom line is every place I go to, every coach I talk to, tells me the athletes are so happy to be able to be playing,” Schulz said. “This is not your normal season. We are not playing a full CIAC season. But they want to keep playing. They saw what happened last spring.”

The CIAC is proceeding with a winter sports season. The start date is Dec. 7, the end date is Feb. 21 and that is, for now, to include league and state tournament play.

“Absolutely, we are going ahead with plans to be able to play a full season for our winter athletes,” Simon said.

Simon noted that the CIAC will be putting together a winter sports committee which, like the fall version, will include superintendents, principals, athletic directors and members of the CSMS-Sports Medicine Committee among others. There will also be input from the various sport-specific committees.

Basketball will be strictly played within leagues. There will be no non-conference games or out-of state contests.

But with COVID numbers slowly on the uptick, there is plenty of uncertainty for the winter season with everything being held indoors.

“I am concerned about the other sports. I’m waiting for the CIAC committees (to make decisions) and the return-to-play document,” SCC commissioner Al Carbone said. “There are a lot of questions about sports and the mitigating strategies.”

Said Simon: “We have a very clear process we follow that I think was very successful for the fall season. … it will be done in the next couple of weeks.”