The FCPTL returns from its Thanksgiving break with a full slate of matches this weekend. The league has just passed the quarter mark for the season and there are plenty of intriguing storylines in all the divisions. This week, we will provide a quick summary of the division races to date as well as the Featured Matches of the Week.
As always, current standings can be found here.
Wee Burn has taken the pole position at the quarter mark in Division 1 and with a victory in hand over second place New Canaan FC, they pretty much control their own destiny. However, with tough matches remaining against Darien Town, Wilton Y 1.2 and Rowayton 1.1, Wee Burn will need to maintain its current form and continue to roll out their deep lineups to take home the Division title. New Canaan FC, Wilton Y 1.2 and Darien Town are nipping at the heels of Wee Burn and with 7 remaining weeks, anything can happen. Meanwhile, last year’s defending champion, Rowayton 1.1, lurks as the dark horse in the race and could easily make a late charge. At the bottom of the division, Wilton Y 1.1, with only 1 point, is looking at an uphill climb to avoid relegation. The second relegation spot, however, is still in doubt with a handful of teams near the danger zone.
Featured Match of Week 5: Darien Town vs Rowayton 1.1. Originally it looked like New Canaan FC vs Greenwich FC might be the match of the week with tournament partners, Brad Easterbrook and Lennart Jonason, potentially squaring off against each other. However, Easterbrook and Jonason decided it would be better to be on the same side of the court and will instead be defending the Long Island Invitational title this Saturday. Consequently, eyes will now focus on the Darien Town vs Rowayton 1.1 match. If either team hopes to catch Wee Burn, they will need to start with a win this Saturday. Darien Town catches a break with Jared Palmer also playing in the Long Island Invitational. However, Rowayton 1.1 is known for their deep roster and the match should still be a tight one.
Division 2 looked to be the most competitive at the start of the year and thus far, it has played out that way. While Patterson looks strong atop Division 2, their loss to Woodway a few weeks ago shows that they need to be focused every week if they are to capture the title. Meanwhile 7 other teams remain in contention for the second promotion spot with 5 teams at 10-6 and 2 teams at 9-7. This division is pretty much impossible to predict with each match a dogfight. At the bottom of the division, 4 teams are tightly bunched at the moment separated by no more than 2 points. Thus Division 2 is expected to go to the wire both at the top and bottom.
Featured Match of Week 5: Wilton Y vs Wee Burn. While one might argue that it’s still a bit early in the season to worry about relegation to the lower division, Wilton Y and Wee Burn probably would argue otherwise. With Wilton Y only 1 point in front of last place Wee Burn, both teams will be looking to a victory to give themselves some breathing room. The difference in the match might ultimately come down to whether either of the club’s Division 1 teams need players and pull from the Division 2 lineups.
After starting the season with a 2-2 split, New Canaan FC has swept its last 3 matches and looks to be on a mission to take the division title. However with matches still to be played against 2nd and 3rd place Darien Town and New Canaan CC, New Canaan still has a ways to go before they might be able to clear a spot in the Paul Fowler Paddle Hut for the title banner. For now, it looks like a 3-way battle for the 2 promotion spots, but Greenwich CC might be able to join the mix with a couple of solid matches. Lake Club and Darien CC, unfortunately, reside in the bottom two spots in the division and will need to really step it up to make up the gap in front of them.
Featured Match of Week 5: New Canaan FC vs Darien Town. It doesn’t get any better than this: first place versus second place. New Canaan FC comes into the match with huge momentum and will be looking to take a stranglehold on the division lead. Meanwhile, Darien Town may be a bit short-handed with one of their top players rumored to be playing in the Long Island B tourney. If that is the case, look for New Canaan FC to prevail especially with home court advantage.
Wilton Y 4.1 has taken a commanding lead in Division 4, compiling a 19-1 record to date which includes a 3-1 win over 3rd place New Canaan Town. 2nd place Wilton Riding Club looks to be the only team at this point with a shot of overtaking Wilton Y 4.1. However Wilton Riding Club will need to keep within the current 2 point margin if their match against Wilton Y 4.1 in late January is to have any meaning. New Canaan Town lurks as the other strong contender for promotion and their match next week versus Wilton Riding Club should be decisive. On the other side of the division, Round Hill and New Canaan Town 4.2 will need to pick up their play if they are to avoid relegation.
Featured Match of Week 6: Stamford Yacht vs New Canaan Town 4.1. If fourth-place Stamford Yacht has any aspirations of securing a top 2 finish needed for promotion, a win over third-place New Canaan Town 4.1 is a must. Similarly New Canaan 4.1 must stay focused on this match and avoid looking ahead to next week’s clash with 2nd place Wilton Riding Club as a loss here might make next week’s match moot.
Like their brethren in Division 4, Wilton Y has also started on fire, compiling a division-leading 19-1 record. It makes one wonder if there isn’t some sort of internal club competition to see which team can finish with the best overall record. Wilton Y may need to keep this pace up, however, as Roxbury remains right on their tail with an 18-2 record. Rowayton and New Canaan CC 5.2 remain just outside the promotion zone but will most likely need to see Wilton Y and Roxbury cool off a bit to make up the gap. At the bottom of the division, Stanwich, with only 1 point, is looking as if they will face relegation unless they dramatically improve their form.
Featured Match of Week 6: New Canaan CC 5.2 vs Rowayton. Another clash of 3rd and 4th place teams. Both Rowayton and New Canaan CC 5.2 need a win if they are to stay within shouting distance of Roxbury and Wilton Y. Based on common opponents, however, it would not be surprising to see this match end in a tie.
Division 6 looks to be a tight two-way race between 19-1 Darien Town and 18-2 Aspetuck. 15-5 Wee Burn is in third place but a 4-0 sweep by Aspetuck suggests that the gap between the top 2 teams and the rest of the field might be a bit much. The more interesting race is at the bottom of the division where 5 clubs are only separated by 4 points for the 2nd relegation spot. With Darien and Aspetuck tearing through the league, the race to avoid relegation may simply come down to now being swept by the front-runners.
Featured Match of Week 6: Burning Tree vs Stamford Yacht. 2nd-to-last and 3rd-to-last square off in a key match for two teams trying to avoid relegation. A victory by either will provide some breathing room, while a loss will be cause for agita. Home-court could ultimately be the advantage for Burning Tree.
Division 7 remains a highly competitive race with 5 teams within 3 points of each other atop the standings. For now, Lake Club 7.1 is in first place at 15-5, ahead of Weston FC, Roxbury, Patterson and Wilton Y respectively, but given the tightness of the race, we could easily see the standings reversed in a week or two. With no relegation spots for the bottom of Division 7, the rest of the league is able to relax and enjoy playing the matches.
Featured Match of Week 6: Lake Club 7.1 vs Wilton Y. Although the standings say first-place versus fifth place, a closer look shows that Lake Club 7.1 is only 3 points ahead of Wilton Y in the loss column. A sweep by Wilton Y would actually vault them ahead of Lake Club 7.1. As we know, anything can happen in Division 7 and this match should be no exception.