Connor Drake’s third goal of the game with 2:16 remaining in the second overtime gave the Warriors the 9-8 win over the Fordham Prep Rams on Thursday at Fujitani Field.
Drake was glad to get the game winner, but he and his teammates know there is still work to be done.
“We got off to a slow start, but played better in the second half. We kind of overlooked them and after they had the lead at halftime that served as a wakeup call for us,” said Drake. “We have the talent and heart on this team to compete with any team, we just have to come out and apply it for 48 minutes. We clearly turned the ball over too much tonight and we as a team, including myself, need to work on our stick skills.”
Wilton improved to 3-1 with the win. The Rams fell to 4-2.
Neither team could mount an extended run on their opponent, as the largest lead either team had was two goals. The score was tied five times and the lead changed hands five times.
It took a while for both teams to get going offensively, with the Rams getting the game’s first goal with 6:42 left in the opening period. Wilton answered right back on a goal by Joe Murtha, assisted by Brian Calabrese, to tie the game at 1-1.
Zach Zeyher followed Murtha’s goal with a goal of his own just 28 seconds later to give the Warriors a 2-1 lead.
Murtha scored again with 1:26 remaining in the quarter, assisted by Drake. The goal came with the Rams being down a man.
Fordham cut the lead to 3-2 with 22.2 seconds left in the first period, as Eddy Madden was left wide open at the doorstep.
Wilton upped its lead to 4-2 just 26 seconds into the second quarter when defenseman Tyler Previte was able to run the field unmarked and fire off a long shot into the net.
Fordham Prep came back with two goals in a span of two minutes to tie the game at 4-4. The Rams’ Jack Dougherty beat the Wilton goalie on the short side to knot the score. The Rams followed up with two more goals to take a 6-4 lead with 27.4 seconds before halftime.
But with 2.8 second left in the half, Dean DiNanno put a backhanded shot past the Rams’ goalie to get Wilton to within 6-5 at the break. Brian Calabrese got possession of the ball with 8.5 seconds left and was able to quickly get the ball up the field to DiNanno.
Neither team could find the back of the net in the third quarter, with Fordham Prep controlling the possession time in the period. Wilton was able to tie the game at 6-6 with 53.6 seconds remaining in the third period. Drake’s first goal, assisted by Murtha, came as the Warriors took advantage of being a man up.
Wilton went ahead at the start of the fourth quarter on a goal from Brian Calabrese, assisted by Drake. The Rams tied it at 7-7 with 8:38 to play in the fourth, but the Warriors score just 15 seconds later on Drake’s second score. Fordham Prep had two good looks at tying the game with 3:15 and 2:12 left, but Wilton goalie Andrew Calabrese came up big to stop the shots. But the Rams Madden tied the game at 8-8 with 1:04 left in regulation, forcing the overtime.
“We clearly have things to work on as a team, but the team worked through their issues tonight to get a win,” said Wilton Head Coach John Wiseman. “But also give a lot of credit to Fordham Prep. They came ready to play. They had a great game plan that they executed well on and the played the game at the pace that they wanted.
He continued, “We were much improved tonight on our man-down play, but other things were evident that we need to focus on. We need to play at a higher level and take care of the ball. These kids have set goals for themselves, they just have to work more at it to achieve them.”