Boys lacrosse: Warriors rally late to nip Tigers 9-8

In a matter of 10 seconds the Wilton High boys lacrosse team erased a two-goal deficit to tie the game at 8-8 with 4:44 left in the game and went on to get the game winner with 2:49 to play to come away with the 9-8 victory over the Ridgefield Tigers on Wednesday afternoon at Fujitani Field.

The Tigers scored a man-advantage goal with 5:12 remaining, putting them up 8-6. Wilton’s faceoff man Chris Sweeney won the ensuing faceoff and Connor Drake fired home a shot to cut the lead to one, 8-7 with 4:54 to play.

Sweeney came right back and won the next faceoff and midfielder Joe Scarfi banged home the game-tying score. The game winner came when Wilton picked off a Tigers’ pass. Drake was near midfield and saw two things — the Ridgefield goalie out of the net and out of position, and Kieran McGovern wide open near the net. Drake passed the ball to McGovern, who was one-on-one with the Tigers’ goalie. McGovern faked high and went low and the ball skipped in for the game winner.

Ridgefield won the following faceoff and the Warriors’ defense looked to hold off the charging Tigers. The Warriors caught a break when Greg Gatto’s shot hit the crossbar with 1:54 left on the clock. But with 1:33 left it was the Warriors’ goalie, Andrew Calabrese. who came up with another big save. Calabrese recorded nine saves on the night, with several coming at key moments of the contest.

“The team got off to a good start on offense staking us to an early 4-0 lead and the defense opened up strong, also shutting down their offense,” said sophomore Calabrese. “Our defense was in great position to cover their player and the ability to see their shots. The defense also forced them wide, limiting their angles. They (Ridgefield) had several good shooters and our game plan was to limit them from attacking from behind.”

As we all know, any contest between Wilton and Ridgefield garners a lot of attention, but Calabrese downplayed the rivalry.

“We didn’t get caught up in who we were playing, we just went out there and played our game and focused getting a quality win against a good team.”

Wilton jumped out a 4-0 lead with 3:53 to play in the opening quarter. Two goals by Drake and goals by Peter Koch and Joe Murtha fueled the early lead. Drake’s first goal came as he maintained possession after being checked, changed directions and found the back of the net. Drake’s second score came from a feed from McGovern, who stole the ball behind the net.

Ridgefield got on the board with a man advantage score just 12 seconds after Wilton went up 4-0. It was Gatto who scored for the Tigers. It was his first of four goals in the game. Wilton led 4-1 after one period.

Ridgefield scored three unanswered goals in the second quarter to tie the game at 4-4 with 5:09 left in the quarter. The Tigers had a chance to take the lead, but Andrew Calabrese came up big in net to keep the game knotted at 4-4.

A Murtha goal regained the lead for Wilton at 5-4 with 2:57 on the clock, but the Tigers came right back to tie it again at 5-5, 35 seconds later. A McGovern goal as time expired in the first half gave Wilton a 6-5 lead at the half.

Weston Carpenter netted three goals for the Tigers in the period.

Chris Cozens had the only score of the third quarter, as the Tigers tied the game at 6-6 early in the third period.

Two goals by Gatto in the final quarter put the Tigers ahead 8-6.

“The two teams battled back and forth, as it was a dogfight for 48 minutes,” said Wilton head coach John Wiseman. “What I’m pleased about my team this year is that they’ve played 48 minutes in each game this year, where in the past they didn’t do that until later in the season, and that they have had their mettle tested several times and have stayed focused and didn’t quit. Sure we scout our opponent, but our goal is to go and play our game and control the flow of the game. If we go out and execute what we want to do, we should be in every game.”

With the win, the Warriors record moves to 5-1 and with the loss Ridgefield drops to 3-2.

Dan Parson made 15 saves in goal for Ridgefield. Reid Kagan had two assists and Drew Fowler one assist.

At home on Tuesday, Wilton routed Danbury 16-2. Ryan McDermott collected three goals to lead the Warriors, followed by two goals for Dean DiNanno and Liam Sullivan.  Eight other Warriors netted a goal apiece in the win. Brian Calabrese had three assists.