Wilton shares Central Region title with McMahon

Wilton’s Oliver Dahlen looks to take a shot while McMahon’s Evangelos Mallios (8) defends in Friday night’s FCIAC Central Region title game.

Wilton’s Oliver Dahlen looks to take a shot while McMahon’s Evangelos Mallios (8) defends in Friday night’s FCIAC Central Region title game.

Gretchen McMahon / For Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — At the end of 100 scoreless minutes that left them co-champs of the FCIAC Central Region, the Brien McMahon and Wilton boys soccer teams were light years apart in reaction.

Clapping and congratulating one another, the McMahon players looked as though they were at a celebration. Quiet and downcast, the Wilton players looked as though they were at a funeral.

The coaches reinforced the distinction.

“We’re super excited because this is the first time we get to hang a banner in 34 years,” McMahon coach Rodrigo Guzman said. “I graduated in 1985 and the last (FCIAC) title came in 1986. This is a big moment for the program.”

“Our players wanted to be champions and not co-champions,” said Wilton coach Edwin Carvajal, whose top-seeded team ended the COVID-shortened season unbeaten (6-0-4). “They wanted it to be undisputed.”

Although the game was played at breakneck pace, quality scoring chances were rare. Wilton had most of them, including one in the final two minutes of the second 10-minute overtime when Ross Edkins one-timed a cross wide of the McMahon goal.

“Brien McMahon played a helluva game defensively and they held themselves out to the zero-zero draw, which is what they wanted,” Carvajal said. “At the end of the day, their reaction was a lot grander than ours. Our boys ... it’s nice to see the expectation they hold for themselves. They weren’t hoping for a tie; they were hoping for a blowout.”

McMahon’s best chance came early in the first half. Yerson Villalobos used a nice first touch to get around a Wilton defender but sent a shot over the crossbar. Led by midfielders Simon Osorio and Erwin Reyes, the Senators exhibited tenacity and work ethic but were unable to breach a Wilton defense that got timely slide tackles and clearances from Arhav Soi and Zack Abud.

While Wilton had better build-ups and passing sequences, it lacked a finishing touch. Jake Lash sent a shot over the crossbar late in the first half, and Nathan Bennett did the same early in the second half after a nice cross from Lash.

“It wasn’t the best we have played,” Carvajal said. “We caved under the pressure of a final and turned into a kickball type of team.”

“My hat’s off to Wilton,” said Guzman, whose 3-1-2 team was playing for only the second time since Oct. 14 following a two-week COVID-19 quarantine. “Wilton’s players should not be upset about this. They should be so excited about this because the seniors get to graduate with a championship.”

As for his team?

“We’re going to go back to Norwalk. We’re going to celebrate with these kids because they gave their heart out,” Guzman said. “This season, being away for 14 days in quarantine ... it’s a weird season for all of us, but we did what we set out to do, to win a title.”