Wilton boys lacrosse comes back, beats Hand in OT on Charlie Johnson’s goal in Class M quarters

Wilton’s Charlie Johnson, left, celebrates his overtime goal with Sean Wiseman as Grant Masterson runs in to join them. Wilton defeated Hand 10-9 in overtime in the Class M quarterfinals Saturday.

Wilton’s Charlie Johnson, left, celebrates his overtime goal with Sean Wiseman as Grant Masterson runs in to join them. Wilton defeated Hand 10-9 in overtime in the Class M quarterfinals Saturday.

Sean Patrick Bowley / Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — If a championship team needs some adversity on the journey, needs to beat a good team when it doesn’t have its best all day, well, Wilton’s boys lacrosse team checked that box Saturday afternoon.

Down four goals early with not much going right against a more than solid Hand team, the Warriors came back, forced overtime and won 10-9 on Charlie Johnson’s goal at Fujitani Field in the CIAC Class M quarterfinals.

“Give it to Hand: They came out strong,” said Wilton midfielder Grant Masterson, whose goal with 19 seconds left, matching his uniform number, sent the game to overtime.

“We were still sleeping. ... It was a complete team effort to pull that out of our you-know-where.”

Wilton’s Spencer Liston, 11-3 on draws after halftime, won the faceoff to start overtime. Wilton called time out to draw up a play.

“It didn’t work accordingly,” Johnson said. “They just covered it well. We spun it back around.”

Michael Wall (three assists) dodged behind the net to feed Johnson cutting to the goal 33 seconds into overtime to win it.

“It felt great for a second,” Johnson said, “and then I just was like, ‘Job’s not finished. two games to go.’”

Wilton (17-4), the fourth seed in the tournament and ranked No. 2 in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, will face top-seeded, eighth-ranked Cheshire (17-3) on Wednesday night at 7:30 in the quarterfinals at Law in Milford. The other semifinal, East Catholic vs. Notre Dame-West Haven, is at the same site at 5 p.m.

But for the longest time, it looked like fifth-seeded, ninth-ranked Hand (15-5) was on its way to meet Cheshire in a rematch of the SCC semifinals. The Tigers collected turnovers, both forced and unforced, and had long, fruitful possessions early on. They led Wilton 3-0 after one, 5-2 at halftime.

“We knew we were coming into a very quality opponent, but we know who we have in the locker room on this team,” Hand coach John Orlando said. “We knew these guys compete. They competed.”

A regular-season loss to Wilton last year, in which the Tigers came back from six goals down to lose 10-8, showed Hand what it had to do to compete, Orlando said.

“I think we proved that last season, this season,” said Orlando, whose team was Class M runner-up last year, when Wilton was in Class L. “We play lacrosse in Madison.”

Wilton had better possession time in the second quarter but scored just twice on 13 shots. Two man-up goals in the first three minutes of the second half got the Warriors back into it, and it became a see-saw game the rest of the way, tied at 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

The Warriors’ only lead with the clock running was 7-6, and that didn’t last two minutes in the fourth quarter.

“Hand kept battling, kept on putting one in whenever we thought we were going to get momentum,” Wilton coach Steve Pearsall said. “My hat’s off to them. They pushed it. They certainly played a great game.

“We were out of sync, obviously, from the start, and uncharacteristically turning the ball over. Some of our better sticks were not producing like they usually do. But I give credit to our guys. They kept on going, didn’t get frustrated and finished the job.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Wilton junior attackman Charlie Johnson assisted on Grant Masterson’s tying goal and finished a hat trick with the overtime winner.

QUOTABLE

Wilton coach Steve Pearsall, on how many years today took off his life: “Oh, too many. That’s why I look like this. I’m only 30 years old, believe it or not.”

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp

WILTON 10, HAND 9 (OT)

HAND3 2 1 3 0—9

WILTON0 2 4 3 1—10

Records: Hand 15-5; Wilton 17-4. Scoring: H—Sam Sisk 1 goal 3 assists, Will Kleine 3g, Kevin Sandor 1g 2a, Patch Flanagan 1g 1a, Mikey McGuirk 1g 1a, Declan DiProspero 1g, Jack Balletto 1g, P.J. O’Hanlon 1a, Seth Sweitzer 1a; W—Charlie Johnson 3g 1a, Ben Calabrese 3g 1a, Michael Wall 3a, Spencer Liston 2g, Sean Wiseman 1g, Grant Masterson 1g. Goalies: H—Jack Orlando (12 saves); W—Colin Lenskold (7). Shots: H—27; W—44.