The Wilton High girls soccer team played through a slow start to beat visiting New Canaan, 2-1, in the season opener for both teams on Friday afternoon at Allen’s Meadows Field
Wilton was hoping to christen its new turf surface at Kristine Lilly Field, but the field was not ready for play. Head coach Renato Topalli said that Lilly Field may be ready for Tuesday’s match against Norwalk.
The Rams held Wilton’s offense in check early on, with New Canaan applying pressure and keeping the ball in the Warriors’ defensive zone. Freshman Erynn Floyd got the start in goal for the Warriors and came up with several first-half saves to keep the Rams off the board. Floyd was the benefactor of solid defensive play led by senior co-captain Grace Rava.
New Canaan was clearly a bigger team, but the smaller Warriors would have nothing to do with that as they fought hard for free balls and pushed back when in close contact.
Held to two shots on net (from Ashley Carbonier and Alex Dejana) in the opening 30 minutes, Wilton went ahead 1-0 with 2:17 left in the first half. Libby Connolly sent a through ball from the wing to Carbonier, who tucked her shot perfectly into the corner of the New Canaan goal.
“Libby played me with a perfect pass and I quickly determined what corner I was going to aim for,” said Carbonier. “I also made up my mind to take a form shot as opposed to a power shot and it paid off.”
Wilton made it 2-0 early in the second half on a bang-bang play, with Dejana lofting a pretty crossing ball that Connolly headed into the net.
“I had missed a chance to score earlier, but when Alex sent me that great cross, I didn’t want to miss this time,” said Connolly. “I was side by side with my defender and her perfect pass made it easy for me to get the goal.”
Wilton had several good chances to add to its lead, including a shot from Maddie Wecker that hooked just wide of the New Canaan net.
Midway through the second half, New Canaan got a goal from Dilyn Patten to cut the Warriors’ lead to 2-1. But Wilton showed composure and made the plays it needed to close out the victory.
“I am very pleased to get a win in our season opener, as the team showed me growth as the game went on,” said Topalli. “They handled themselves very well as different challenges were put in front of them, and they stayed focused and followed our game plan.
“Yes, we did get off to a slow start as I think we just weren’t mentally ready, but they showed me a lot by playing through it,” added Topalli. “They missed some good scoring chances that could have taken the pressure off our defense, but they continued to work hard and come away with the win. We have good team chemistry so far this season, but we still have several things to work on to get better.”