Murph's Turf: Wilton High fall sports best-ofs

Following are The Bulletin’s best-of awards for the 2014 Wilton High School fall sports season.

Game: When the Wilton and Lauralton Hall field hockey teams meet, you can expect a tense, low-scoring game, usually decided late in the contest. This season’s Class M state semifinal between the teams was no exception. With a spot in the finals on the line, the game scoreless, and just over seven minutes left to play, the Warriors got goals from Bridget Ward and Katherine Campbell — less than three minutes apart — to beat Lauralton Hall, 2-0, and advance to the state finals for the fourth straight year.

Performance: Senior Rod Djaly Thoby did a little of everything — in a big way — for the Wilton High football team in its 34-7 non-conference win over Branford. As a wide receiver, Djaly Thoby caught two touchdown passes. As a cornerback, he allowed no completed passes to the Branford players he was defending and also intercepted a pass. And as a kick-off returner, he had returns of 52 and 87 yards, both of which set up Wilton touchdowns. Djaly Thoby ended the game with 181 all-purpose yards.

Comeback: When the Greenwich girls volleyball team took a 2-0 lead over Wilton on Oct. 10, the match’s outcome appeared to be assured. After all, Greenwich came into the contest with a 10-2 record and in the midst of a 10-match winning streak, while Wilton was 4-9 and had yet to beat an opponent with a winning record. But playing before a home crowd, Wilton refused to be typecast. The Warriors won the next two games to tie the match and then prevailed, 15-12, in the fifth game to pull off a 3-2 triumph. Sabrina Malik was a catalyst for Wilton, finishing with 15 service points, 20 digs and four kills.

Moment: Wilton’s season-opening football game against Guilford took place on Sept. 11 this year, the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Fittingly, Wilton head coach Bruce Cunningham invited his friend, Joe McHugh, the battalion chief of New York City Fire Department’s Ladder 25 company, which was among the first rescue groups responding to the attacks on the World Trade Towers. After speaking to the team earlier in the day, McHugh performed the opening coin toss and then watched the game from the Wilton sidelines. Wearing #25 patches on their uniforms, the Wilton players responded with a victory, beating Guilford, 20-6.

Breakthrough: As a freshman last season, Wilton’s Allison Courtney placed 16th in the diving competition at the Class L championship meet and didn’t qualify for the State Open. This year was a lot different. After placing seventh at the FCIAC meet, Courtney continued her improvement by finishing second at the Class L meet with 394.10 points. Eight days later, Courtney topped that score, compiling 426.65 points to finish sixth at the State Open.

Newcomer: On an veteran team Wilton High girls soccer team, Paisley Eagan was a rarity: The only freshman on the varsity roster. But Eagan announced her presence right away, scoring two goals in the Warriors’ season-opening win over Bridgeport Central. She went on to be a key contributor for Wilton, which ended with a 10-3-6 record.

Coach: With eight starters graduating, the Wilton High field hockey team faced a challenge in order to remain among the state’s top squads this fall. But veteran head coach Deirdre Hynes was able to incorporate a host of newcomers into the lineup as the Warriors reached the Class M state championship for the fourth consecutive year. Although a 2-1 loss in that game to Daniel Hand ended Wilton’s three-year reign, Hynes and the young Warriors did what all elite programs do: Keep being a power no matter how high the roster turnover.

Athlete: Wilton senior Spencer Brown added his name to the list of the best boys cross country runners in program history — doing so in bold-font, all-capital letters. Brown had top-three finishes at the FCIAC (second), Class L (second) and State Open (third) meets before placing 14th at the New England championships.

Team: No Wilton team won a conference or state title this fall, but the field hockey team came closest. The Warriors went 17-4-1, losing to New Canaan in the FCIAC semifinals and Daniel Hand in the Class M state finals. For the season, Wilton scored 68 goals and allowed just 11. The near future doesn’t look any less daunting for opponents: The Warriors’ roster included just four seniors.