The Fairfield boys hockey team will not be able to participate in the state tournament this year


From left to right: Ryan Tymon, Liam Forrest, James Kohm

Neil Roarty

In 2018, the Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe co-op was faced with a decision: split up the team by school, within two years, or withdraw from the CIAC state tournament. 

Why can’t the boys participate in the CIAC tournament?  

A phase-out plan was accepted, and this plan allowed for the boys to compete in the CIAC tournament for the following two years: 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. But, both tournaments were canceled due to COVID-19.

The co-op’s complaint is that the CIAC tournaments were canceled during the final two years they were eligible to compete, so they feel as if they should get two more years of participation as a compromise for the years lost. “We have been able to play in the state tournament for so many years and it has caused no problems, so there should be no reason that the [tournament] the players work so hard for should be taken away from them,” Captain Finn Hoey says.

 The Fairfield Co-Op have started out the season 9-0, and have no plans on stopping their success anytime soon. Their latest win was a 6-4 victory over Darien.

What kind of attempts have been made to get the team back into the tournament?

Hoey claims that the team has decided to get other coaches from other programs for support to get the boys back into the tournament. So far the CIAC has not responded to the complaints.

Is the FCIAC tournament an equal alternative for the CIAC state tournament?

“It’s not the same as winning a state championship,” says Captain John Vallillo. Though they are not allowed in the CIAC state tournament, the boys are allowed to participate in the FCIAC, their conference tournament. 

The FCIAC consists of teams like Darien, New Canaan, St. Joseph, Greenwich, Ridgefield, etc. Vallillo believes that the team is the best in the state, and that while an FCIAC tournament win would be a great win, it would not be as big as a deserved state tournament win. 

Hoey also claims that winning the FCIAC tournament is memorable, but winning a state tournament is unforgettable for the whole community. It’s a memory that will stick with everyone involved for the rest of their lives.

 Multiple Connecticut High school  hockey analysts have ranked the Mustangs as the number one team.

Can private schools participate?

One issue with why the Fairfield Co-Op team is unable to participate in the state tournament is in regard to the unequal number of players from both high schools (Ludlowe and Warde) who comprise the roster. Currently, Fairfield Ludlowe High School has exceeded the total number of allowed players from one school with 20 players (only 15 are allowed from one school on co-op teams). However, one of the main arguments that the Mustangs are using in their battle to be considered for the tournament is that private schools can recruit players to their program from all over the state. Some of these programs consist of around 60 players, while Fairfield Co-op consists of 33 players, with 20 on varsity and 13 on junior varsity. 


Vallillo was adamant that he did not want to bad mouth other programs, but did not understand how these programs were allowed to participate, but not the Mustangs. “We are a team made of two public high schools from one town. Unfortunately, the rules are unfairly affecting us… the CIAC should want us in the tournament, it only hurts the kids and the sport by not allowing us [to play].”