Memorable Mondays: Top coaches
Welcome to MSGVarsity.com's Memorable Mondays, a summer-long series that looks back on the top players, games and moments from the past season and gazes ahead to 2012-13. As the summer goes on, we'll compile all the lists and post them here: www.msgvarsity.com/mondays. New lists will be posted every Monday morning.
In Week 7 of Memorable Mondays, we look at five of the top coaches in the Connecticut Region from the 2011-12 school year.
Jim Ginand, Bunnell boys soccer: Under Ginand's guidance, the Bulldogs reached the state finals for the first time ever in 2010. This past season -- and with the entire starting lineup back in the fold -- Bunnell finished the job, capturing the historic title with a dominant 3-0 victory over Avon in the Class L finals to cap a state tournament in which it won every game by at least two goals. The Bulldogs, who went 19-2-2 overall, also won the SWC crown with a 4-0 win over Pomperaug -- which turned out to be the Class LL champion.
Sean Ireland, Norwalk football: When Pete Tucci stepped down from the job after 13 seasons last November, the Bears turned to Ireland – their offensive coordinator and a 1996 graduate of the school who turned out to be the perfect fit for the job. A class act whose enthusiasm was contagious in the program, Ireland guided Norwalk to a 9-2 record and its first state playoff berth since 1998. The Bears didn’t just stop there, knocking off fourth-seeded Conard in the Class LL quarterfinansl before their storybook season came to an end at the hands of unbeaten Xavier in the state semis.
Mike Mora, Greenwich baseball: A three-time FCIAC Coach of the Year, Mora added the league's Spring Season Coach of the Year award to his resume after piloting the Cardinals to one of their best season in program history. Greenwich finished the regular season 20-0 in the ultra-competitive FCIAC -- before reaching the league finals in which it would watch Trumbull complete a storybook run to the championship. The Cardinals' season would finally end with a heartbreaking 10-inning loss to East Hartford in the Class LL quarterfinals, and they would finish the year No. 3 in the state poll.
Vito Montelli, St. Joseph boys basketball: The program's only head coach in history completed his 50th and perhaps final season with a bang, guiding the Cadets to their second straight Class LL title and 11th overall. St. Joe's was a perfect 20-0 during the regular season and finished at 25-1, beating powers such as New London (twice), Archbishop Molloy, N.Y., and Hillhouse along the way.
Kristin Woods, New Canaan girls lacrosse: Despite competing in the FCIAC -- by far the toughest conference in the state -- the Rams went a perfect 16-0 during the regular season. New Canaan would be knocked off by rival Darien in the FCIAC semifinals, but avenged its only loss in the state tournament en route to capturing the Class M championship. Woods was named both FCIAC and State Coach of the Year.
Join us throughout the summer as "Memorable Mondays" brings you more top 5 lists:
Aug. 13: Top five most memorable games from 2011-12
Aug. 20: Top five teams from 2011-12
Aug. 27: Top five teams to watch in 2012-13
Find them all at www.msgvarsity.com/mondays.