Girls lacrosse: Wilton comeback falls just short in state finals

Given that the Darien girls lacrosse team was unbeaten against state competition, and had been beating state teams by about 15 goals per game, Saturday’s Class L state championship game was supposed to be a foregone conclusion.

And jumping out to a 10-4 halftime lead over Wilton, it seemed like the Wave was on its way to another lopsided win.

But the Warriors had a different script in mind in the second half, with a 5-1 run to cut the lead to 11-9 with 17 minutes left. However, the Wave showed poise and patience down the stretch, got a couple of big saves from goalie Maggie Brooks, and held off Wilton for a 13-10 win —  their fifth state title in a row.

For the Warriors, it was a remarkable showing for a team that had been annihilated by Darien, 15-2, on May 4.

Wilton had come into the game playing its best lacrosse of the season in three state playoff games, and went out at the top of its game.

“We’ve been battling all season, and the way they stepped up today, and not just made it a game, I’m really proud of them. A couple of different possessions and that game goes the other way,” said head coach Meredith Meyran. “We wanted to play like it was our last five minutes and I think we did. I honestly think Darien was rattled. We beat them in the second half and I’m really proud of the effort my girls put out there today.”

The Warriors outscored Darien 6-3 in the second half.

Fourth-seeded Darien finished the season at 20-3, while the 11th-seeded Warriors finished at 14-7.

Julia Bonnist gave Wilton the early lead on a run from the side, but Darien went on a 7-1 run to take a 7-2 lead with 9:01 left in the first half on Christine Fiore’s second goal in a row.

Rebecca Wistreich scored to make it 8-4 with 1:50 left in the half, but the Wave scored twice in the final 1:21, the last one with just eight second left by Ashley Humphrey.

The Warriors came out strong in the second half and scored two quick goals — the first on a free position by Erika Bonnist, and the other on a great move into the crease by Margaret Smith.

Kate Ramsay answered for Darien with 19:36 left to play, but Wilton came back with three straight goals in a span of two minutes. Bonnist scored after another strong run to the goal to make it 11-7, and notched her fourth goal of the game a minute later off a feed from Wistreich, who scored unassisted with 16:57 left to make it 11-9.

Then, in the key sequence of the game, Darien goalie Maggie Brooks made a point-blank save on a shot that would have cut the lead to one. She quickly cleared the ball and Darien took it the other way for a fast-break goal by Kendall Wisinski, who was wide open, with 12:39 left to make it 12-9.

Brooks came up big again with about 10 seconds left, turning away a shot by Smith after she had made a strong run from behind the cage.

The Wave then slowed things down, working the clock down to under five minutes. But the shots they took were handled by Wilton goalie Bridgette Wall. The Warriors finally regained possession, leading to another Wistreich goal with 2:49 left, making it 12-10.

Ramsay won the key draw, however, to give Darien possession. Wilton did briefly regain the ball but lost it on a turnover. Darien then closed things out with a goal in the final seconds.

“Darien is awesome. It’s amazing just to even compete with them, and I think we pushed them today and I’m really proud of that,” said coach Meyran. “Everybody was focused because it was our last game. We knew we weren’t going to get the opportunity to play together again, so that was in the front our minds the whole time. We just wanted to make sure we left it all out on the field and we did.

Wistreich and Bonnist each had four goals to lead the Wilton scoring, with other goals by Smith and Erika Bonnist. Wistreich and Smith each had an assist.

Wall had an excellent second half in goal for Wilton turning away four of seven shots. Paige Brown had five saves in the first half.

Sophie Sudano led Wilton with five draw controls, with four for Sydney Brant and three for Wistreich. Carly Sullivan led the team with four groundballs, with two each by Alex DiSanto, Wistreich and Emmy Goodwin.

For Darien, Fiore and Ashley Humphrey each had three goals, with two goals each from Jacques and Ramsay. Winiski, Joyce and Nicole Humphrey scored the other goals. The Wave got two assists each from Jacques, Winiski and Anna Stein. Brooks made two saves playing the final 18 minutes in goal for Darien, while Carly Schoudel had eight saves over the first 32 minutes.

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