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Most of us love sports because it can provide great theatre and a platform for truly special accomplishments to unfold. David can beat Goliath but also get crushed by him. Teams can be on the verge of greatness, only to see it snatched away at the last moment. Athletes can be inspired to rise from obscurity to become instant legends. And when the lights are the brightest and the pressure the most intense, that's when great performances often in occur. Over the last few weeks, the post-season tournaments provided great drama and storylines for area sports fans to experience.
The baseball team dedicated its season to coaching legend , who passed away in October. tossed a no-hitter on his birthday, then the Eagles went on a remarkable run, culminating with an FCIAC championship. Trumbull, just 14-8 at the time, beat Greenwich who had been undefeated (22-0) and the number one ranked team in the state.
never won a a South-West Conference softball championship, in fact, they had never even made it to the championship game. However, they authored a brilliant story, riding the powerful arm of to glory. Guillette, just a freshman, went 19-2 and beat Brookfield in the championship game to help secure the Tigers' first ever title.
Stratford legend inspired his team to the NCAA baseball tournament. With a losing record and having to win the conference championship to extend its season, Sacred Heart University went 11-4 down the stretch, then swept through the Northeast Conference tournament to earn an automatic berth in NCAA tournament.
of Fairfield wasn't on the radar screen of great goalies in college lacrosse before this season. The sophomore who attended Avon Old Farms, earned the starting job for the Greyhounds and was very consistent during the regular season, going 14-1. But when the NCAA tournament started, Runkel elevated his game to a whole different level. He was brilliant between the pipes and in the NCAA championship game against Maryland, Runkel made several spectacular saves and allowed just three goals in helping Loyala become national champions.
Thehit the low point of their lacrosse season on April 17 when they got destroyed by arch-rival Darien, 13-3. Their record stood at 3-3 and there were grumblings about coach Alex Whitten and his job security. Instead of falling apart, New Canaan got ram tough and went on a remarkable run. They ripped off twelve straight wins before meeting Ridgefield in the FCIAC championship game. The Rams trailed by four goals at halftime, but with the same resolve and determination that they showed after that humiliating loss to Darien, they rallied to beat the Tigers, 11-9, to capture their first FCIAC title since 2003.
The Los Angles Kings barely made the NHL's post-season tournament as the eighth seed in the Western Conference. However, when you have a red-hot goalie, David can often slay Goliath and he did in the first-round of the playoffs when Milford native stonewalled the Vancouver Canucks. Quick put the Kings on his back and the former and Avon Old Farms standout, has Los Angeles in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993. If Quick leads the Kings to the title, he very well could end up as the winner of the Conn Symthe trophy, given to the playoff MVP. That's the award Cheshire'swon after leading the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup in 1994.
Jess Harkness of (Milford), like Quick, put her team on her back and carried them to a championship. The sophomore pitcher has been spectacular this year, posting a 20-1 record. She was on the mound last Saturday when the Lions beat Amity High School, 7-6, to secure Foran's first-ever SCC championship in softball.
Few teams in the area rise to the occasion during the post-season like the girls lacrosse team. The Nighthawks beat New Fairfield last Friday 18-13 to win their eighth consecutive South-West Conference championship. Sophomore Meaghan Brophy had five goals while Kristie VosWinkel and Erin Kenning chipped in with four goals apiece to lead the team to another title.
was in the midst of a dream season before playing Newtown for the SWC championship. The Panthers had won 21 consecutive games and authored three no-hitters in the span of eight days. But they lost their magic against Newtown, losing to the Nighthawks in the title game, 18-1. It was Pomperaug's first loss since April 4.
The softball team at flexed its muscle in a battle of superpowers. Facing Westhill (20-2) in the FCIAC championship, the Blue Wave rode the strong arm of Jessica DeMaio to beat the Vikings 8-5. Darien is the first team from the conference to repeat as champions since 2008-2009. The other team to accomplish that feat? That's right, Westhill.
The post-season often allows us to appreciate true greatness. The boys volleyball team at is etching their names in the annals of Connecticut High School sports. Last Thursday, the Rams beating Xavier to win the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament. Cheshire is 20-0 in 2012 and dating back to last season, they've won an incredible 42 consecutive matches.
In the theatre of sports, we sometimes to get to see truly impressive individual efforts. In victory over Barlow in the SWC championship game, Trojans goalie Grant Limone not only made 16 saves, but he ran the length of the field, weaving through Barlow defenders, and fired one past the opposing goalie. It was a key goal in Weston's 8-6 victory and a remarkable play by Limone, who just happened to be named MVP of the game.
Austin Pokluda had never started a game for but in the biggest game of the season, he found himself on the mound. Pitching for the tradition-rich school, Pokluda shut down Shelton in the SCC championship game. He gve up just one run on two hits in the 2-1 victory.
Pokluda is just another example of what makes the theatre of sports so great.