Wilton teams open fall sports season today

Nina Sylvester takes part in a drill during a recent Wilton field hockey practice.

Nina Sylvester takes part in a drill during a recent Wilton field hockey practice.

Gretchen McMahon / For Hearst Connecticut Media

Fewer games, no traditional post-season tournaments, lots of safety protocols, and a chance that it could all end quickly.

But for high school athletes in Wilton and throughout the state, being able to play again is what matters.

More than six months after the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly ended the 2019-20 school year, high school sports return to Connecticut today. Seven fall sports (boys and girls soccer, field hockey, girls swimming, girls volleyball, and boys and girls cross country) that are classified as either low or moderate risk (for COVID-19 transmission) are back, although girls volleyball players will need to wear masks while playing indoors.

Football, classified as high risk, wasn’t as fortunate. Following several weeks of uncertainty and mixed messages, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference decided not to sanction the traditional version of the sport (11-on-11, full contact) in 2020. The CIAC has created an alternative season next spring (March 19-April 17) for traditional football, as well as any other fall or winter sports teams which aren’t able to play at least 40% of their games.

Following the CIAC’s decision — which came after the state department of health recommended against playing football this fall — the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference and several other Connecticut leagues approved proposals to play 7-on-7, non-contact games and have strength challenges (see related story). The Wilton football team has its first strength challenge and 7-on-7 game this Friday night (5:30) at Ridgefield.

To reduce travel and limit possible COVID-19 exposure, the FCIAC has split its 16 teams into three geographic pods (East, Central and West). Wilton is in the Central pod along with Ridgefield, Staples, Danbury, Brien McMahon, and Norwalk.

In boys and girls soccer, field hockey, and girls volleyball, Wilton plays 10 regular-season games — two apiece (home and home) against each of the other five schools in the Central pod. The Wilton girls swim team has six meets, and the Wilton boys and girls cross country teams each have five meets.

The Wilton field hockey, girls soccer, girls volleyball, and boys and girls cross country teams all open the regular-season today at home against Ridgefield at 4:30 p.m.

The Wilton boys soccer team opens the season against Ridgefield on Friday at 4:30, and the Wilton girls swim team hosts the Norwalk/McMahon combined squad on Friday at 3:40.