CT Region's top stories of 2012
In 2012, there was certainly no shortage of story lines involving teams in MSG Varsity's Connecticut Region. Here are the top 10 stories of the year, as determined by the MSG Varsity staff.
10. New Canaan girls lacrosse leaves no doubt
The Rams compiled a 16-0 mark during the regular season in the toughest conference in the state. After falling to Darien in the FCIAC semifinals, New Canaan came back with a vengeance in the Class M tournament, knocking off the rival Blue Wave in the quarterfinals before eventually and conclusively cementing its standing as the state's No. 1 team with a 17-9 victory over Wilton in the finals.
9. Weston football wins first-ever playoff game
Joe Lato was named the CT Region Coach of the Year, and deservedly so after guiding the Trojans to a 9-3 record. Five of those wins came by seven points or less. The highlight of the storybook season being a 29-22 victory over third-seeded Ellington/Somers in the Class M tournament -- which was Weston's first state playoff win in school history.
8. Fairfield Prep lacrosse claims L title, avenges 2011 state finals loss to Ridgefield
It was the seventh straight trip to the Class L finals for the Jesuits, who captured their first state championship since 2009 behind four goals from Matt Brophy and 18 saves by Mike Seelye. The 8-6 victory was even sweeter considering their opponent, Ridgefield, defeated the Jesuits in an 11-10 thriller in the 2011 L finals.
7. Watertown boys basketball reaches first state finals since 1943
What a magical run it was for the Indians, who blew out Ledyard to advance to their first state championship game in 70 years. Watertown's fans showed up in droves at the Mohegan Sun Arena, but it turned out to be Waterford that captured its first-ever state crown with a 71-57 victory. The NVL champion Indians finished the year 24-4.
6. Staples track star Henry Wynne races into the record books
The Virginia-bound standout had an incredible 2012. During the indoor track season, Henry Wynne won the FCIAC title in the 1,000 and 1,600; won the Class LL championship in the 1,000 and two relays; the State Open title in the 1,000 and two relays; and the New England crown in the 1,000 and 4x400 relay. In the spring, Wynne was even more impressive. He won the 800 and 1,600 in the FCIAC, Class LL and State Open meets (and his time of 4:10:35 was a Class LL record, and also faster than the State Open record). He also captured the New England championship in the 1,600 and was the runner-up at the New Balance National Championship meet in North Carolina. This fall, Wynne took home his second straight FCIAC boys cross country title with a time of 15:23 -- which was both a meet and course record at New Canaan's Waveny Park.
5. Norwalk's Brandon Riggins completes perfect season at New Englands
All Brandon Riggins did last winter was put together one of the most dominating seasons in recent memory, going a perfect 45-0 capped by a title at the New England meet. The senior 195-pounder was taken down only once all season, and that came late in a 17-9 championship match victory at the State Open.
4. Amity softball runs the gauntlet en route to state title
There was no challenge that the Spartans didn't meet -- or overcome -- in the Class LL tournament. Before their remarkable run was over, the Spartans had knocked off third-seeded Darien, second-seeded Westhill and finally, top-seeded Southington, for their first state crown since 2005. Amity, without a single all-state player, ended the year 23-5.
3. Staples football repeats as FCIAC champs, falls in state semis
After winning the FCIAC title reaching the Class LL finals in 2011, expectations were sky-high for a loaded Staples squad in 2012. Despite a heart-breaking 30-28 loss to Norwich Free Academy in the state semifinals, it was another season to remember for the Wreckers. Staples dominated the FCIAC, scoring at least 49 points in ever league game, capped off by a 48-30 victory over Greenwich on Thanksgiving.
2. Norwalk soccer captures first state title since 1966
It was an historic year for the Bears, who put the finishing touches on a 21-1-1 season with a 2-0 victory over Fairfield Prep in the Class LL finals. That was the 13th shutout of the season for Norwalk, which also earned a share of the FCIAC championship, and ended the year ranked No. 11 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll.
1. Vito Montelli leads St. Joe's boys basketball to second straight Class LL title, retires five months later
After 50 seasons and 11 state championships, the winningest boys basketball coach in New England history turned in his whistle. The legendary Vito Montelli, the only coach in the history of the St. Joseph program, recalled it a career in August at Vazzano's Four Seasons banquet hall that was filled with fellow coaches, family members and dozens of former players -- including assistant Chris Watts, who was named the new head coach. Montelli, a three-time national coach of the year who was inducted into the National High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005, retired with a record of 878-328. As it turned out, his final game was a St. Patrick's Day 62-54 comeback win over Hillhouse that gave the Cadets their second straight Class LL championship.