Wilton and Staples rode a roller coaster for 50 minutes in their Class L girls lacrosse state tournament quarterfinal game on Friday. So it was only fitting they were able to play a few more minutes with the season on the line.
Wilton junior Sophie Sudano took a pass from freshman Morgan Lebek and scored with 1:18 remaining in overtime to give Wilton a dramatic 10-9 victory over Staples on Friday at Ginny Parker Field in Westport.
“When we got it down we were all composed and said everybody just settle, we’ve got this, don’t worry,” Sudano said of the winning sequence. “Julia Skillin was standing in front of me and I saw there was only one girl on me. I told her I thought she could cut through and she just sprinted through, and then I just cut. It was kind of like an out-of-body experience. And Morgan Lebek, the freshman, really stepped up today.”
The victory puts the sixth-seeded Warriors (13-7) in the Class L semifinals against second-seed Darien (19-2), the top-ranked team in the state coaches poll. The two teams clash at 5 p.m. on Monday in the first of two Class L semifinals at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk. Fourth-seed New Canaan (17-4) and ninth-seed Ridgefield (12-6) will play in the second game.
Darien has beaten Wilton twice this season: 10-8 during the regular season and 19-9 in the FCIAC semifinals.
While Sudano, who had a hat trick and one assist, made the highlight reel with her winning goal, it was senior goalie Bridgette Wall and the Wilton defense that made the victory possible.
“She [Wall] had 14 saves and it was definitely her best performance of the season,” Wilton coach Meredith Meyran said. “She was just playing like a true senior and captain, not wanting her season to end and carrying the team on her shoulders.
“We played good, strong team defense. We were always focused on playing as a unit and not getting too caught up on specific matchups and just playing the best defense we could so Wall could make the saves she needed to.”
For Staples, the loss ended one of the program’s best seasons, as the Wreckers finished 16-4 and were ranked in the state’s top five for most of the spring. Staples played the game without head coach Nicole Gerosa, who gave birth to a baby girl Thursday night.
“They did everything they could and played an unbelievable game,” assistant coach Jenna Liljeberg said. “We kept everything positive and said it didn’t work in our favor but they did everything they could and they need to keep their heads up for that.”
Staples got a big game from Kyle Kirby, who had a game-best five points on three goals and two assists and collected eight draw controls. Kathleen Cozzi had a hat trick and one assist, and Elle Fair scored twice.
For Wilton, Anna Sherman scored two goals and Olivia Gladstein had one goal and two assists.
Meghan Lane, who won five draw controls and had six ground balls for the Warriors, helped settle things down for Wilton on the draw during the second half.
“In the first half, Kyle Kirby was absolutely dominant on the draw controls,” Meyran said. “It was really hard for us to get possessions and they did a fantastic job in that respect. When we talked about it at halftime, Meghan said I want the draw; she wanted to get after it and I wanted to give her that opportunity. She really stepped up.”
The game featured several momentum shifts. Wilton led 5-3 at halftime and Staples rallied to tie the score at 5-5. After the Warriors regained the lead at 8-5, the Wreckers again roared back to tie the score, with Kirby’s third goal of the game making it 8-8 with 3:23 to go.
Sherman then gave the Warriors a 9-8 advantage with 1:28 remaining, but a great feed from Kirby to Fair resulted in a tie game with 36.7 seconds remaining.
Staples’ freshman goalie Sara DiGiovanni, who made 10 saves, stopped a final attempt by Wilton, sending the game to overtime.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Sophia Sudano and Bridgette Wall, Wilton. Sudano’s game-winning goal in overtime gave her a hat trick with one assist. Wall, the Warriors’ senior goalie, made the victory possible by collecting 14 saves.
“They’re a great team; their attack is really good and their defense was good, too. This is a big rivalry for us and we were both amped up. They just kept getting the ball and scoring — their goals were great — and when they tied it, we said ‘OK guys, we’ve got to get back.’ And we got into OT and went off.” — Wilton junior Sophie Sudano