Firmender scores four as Fairfield Prep tops Wilton, reaches Class L boys lacrosse final

WILTON — The two most eye-popping stats from Wednesday’s Class L semifinals at Fujitani Field, aside from the final score of Fairfield Prep’s 14-5 win over Wilton, were probably faceoffs and shooting percentage.

Wilton went 20-2 on draws. But Fairfield Prep scored 14 goals on 27 shots. The Jesuits are off to the final for the first time since 2013, the capper to a remarkable run for a young group that sometimes struggled to beat top teams through the regular season.

Sophomore midfielder Marco Firmender paced the Jesuits’ offense with four goals, matching his output from Saturday’s stunning 14-10 quarterfinal win over top-ranked Darien. Jesuits standout defender Mason Whitney said the veterans tried to make sure there’d be no letdown.

“A lot of guys were riding high on that. We’ve got to remind them we’ve got another game coming up,” Whitney said. “We can’t be thinking we beat them and we’re done.”

There’s one more game now, one only: Eighth-seeded Fairfield Prep (17-4) will face 14th-seeded Ridgefield (15-7) in the championship game on Saturday at Trumbull’s McDougall Stadium at a time to be announced.

Ridgefield defeated the Jesuits 13-5 on April 17 in their regular-season meeting, a long time ago for two teams that have each had ups and downs.

“They’re playing better again. The first game was kind of weird: We played great for a quarter, then got blown out,” Fairfield Prep coach Graham Niemi said.

“I’ll have a long night (Wednesday) night, do a little studying. We’re going to be psyched to practice (Thursday).”

Speaking of a long time ago, the schools have met three times in Class L finals, wins for Fairfield Prep in 2008 and 2012 and a win for Ridgefield in 2011.

For only the second time, the CIAC will play its boys lacrosse finals with none of Darien, Wilton or New Canaan involved. Cheshire beat Glastonbury for the 2002 Division I title, taking out Wilton and Darien along the way after the Jesuits had defeated New Canaan.

Fairfield Prep reached a final for the 10th time. It had gone to eight consecutive Class L finals after the CIAC went from a two-division playoff format to three enrollment-based classes, but the school hadn’t been back since 2013.

Fifth-seeded Wilton, runner-up to Darien when the tournament was last contested in 2019, finishes 15-6. The Warriors and Jesuits had tied for third in the GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll before the tournament.

One of Wilton’s wins was an 8-6 victory over the Jesuits not three weeks ago.

“It seems like a longer time, right?” said Wilton coach Steve Pearsall, who said he’d remember this Warrior team’s resilience. “The biggest difference is they definitely have some mojo going. I’ve got to tip my hat. They were stinging their shots, really accurate shooting.

“We were winning faceoffs, so I thought we always had a chance to come back. We weren’t in sync on offense. We were pressing a little once we got down. I wish had the answers. I could’ve fixed it during the game.”

Spencer Liston dominated at the faceoff X. But Wilton’s first five faceoff wins resulted in two quick turnovers, two saves and a quick shot wide that went over to the Jesuits.

By then, Fairfield Prep led 3-1. Firmender, often defended by Wilton standout Jake Sommer, scored the first goal, with the Jesuits patient to wait until Sommer slid off him to help defend Tim Shannehan.

“What you’ve got to be able to do when you don’t win faceoffs, you have to clear at high percentage. You’ve got to not foul. You’ve got to score on extra man. You’ve got to ride a little,” Niemi said.

“You can’t fail in the other areas, and we have worked hard on our special teams. I don’t think we fouled today. We’ve worked hard on not fouling. That hides your faceoff differential if you do a whole bunch of other things in regard to possessions in a game.”

The Jesuits led 5-1 after one and 8-3 at halftime. They scored on their first four shots of the third quarter.

Niemi said Firmender has learned to pick his shots better, saying the talk on the sophomore used to be that he’d score four goals but would need 16 shots. It’s been more like six or seven shots the past few games.

“The team has been shooting over 60 percent this entire postseason,” Firmender said, “so we all have been (picking shots better), really.”; @fornabaioctp



WILTON1 2 1 1—5

Records: Fairfield Prep 17-4; Wilton 15-6. FP—Marco Firmender 4 goals, 1 assist; Maddux Little 3g; Peter Grandolfo 2g, 1a; Aidan Derby 2g, 1a; Tim Shannehan 1g, 1a; Kyle Stevenson 1g; Kyle Colucci 1g; Brendan Dunleavy 1a; W—Sam Rosen 1g; Josh White 1g; Spencer Liston 1g; Grant Masterson 1g; Jack Rosen 1a. Goalies: FP—Sam Cargill (7 saves); W—Colin Lenskold (3). Shots: FP—27; W—35.