Boys lacrosse: Warriors score key win over John Jay
The Wilton High boys lacrosse team broke open a close game with three unanswered goals in the third quarter and tacked on another goal early in the fourth quarter on its way to a 9-6 over the John Jay-Cross River on Wednesday night at Fujitani Field.
The victory, the second in two days, raised Wilton’s record to 5-4. John Jay, coming off a 12-7 win over Ridgefield the day befdore, fell to 6-3.
The four goal outburst gave the Warriors a 6-2 with 11 minutes to play.
First-half action saw the Indians dominate time of possession, limiting the Warriors’ scoring chances, but Wilton’s defense and the stellar play of Andrew Calabrese in net kept Wilton in the game.
Calabrese came up big with three saves in the first five minutes of play to keep the game scoreless. Calabrese had seven first-half saves and 11 for the game.
“We came out in a zone because I felt that was the best a better chance to see the shots,” said Wilton Head Coach John Wiseman. “Getting early saves by your goalie builds his confidence, gets into a positive rhythm, and fires up the whole team.”
Joe Murtha got the game’s first score with 7:13 remaining in the opening quarter for the 1-0 lead. Murtha started his march up the field from well inside the Warrior defensive zone and was left free to run and took advantage of it for the goal.
Wilton’s lead lasted less than a minute as the Indians answered back with a goal by Sean Nolan. The game was tied at 1-1 after one period.
John Jay took its only lead of the game just 1:37 into the second quarter on a score by Patrick Horan.
The Warriors appeared to get the game-tying goal with 8:15 remaining in the period, but the Murtha score was waved off of a Warrior infraction.
But with 3:48 to play before halftime, Zach Zeyher got the equalizer to send the game into the break tied at 2-2.
Neither team could score for almost seven minutes of the third quarter, until Wilton caught fire. The Warriors scored three times in the span of less than two minutes to forge a 5-2 lead, on goals by Connor Drake, Dean Dinanno and Brian Calabrese.
Wilton showed patience and worked the ball around looking for the opening.
Drake’s second goal of the game, 58 seconds into the fourth quarter, put the Warriors up 6-2.
The Indians didn’t fold their tents and go quietly. Two goals by Michael Minard pulled John Jay to with 6-4 with 5:35 to play. Murtha’s second score of the game, on man advantage situation, assisted by Drake, got one back for the Warriors with 2:59 remaining.
With time running out on the visitors, they decided to press in the midfield area and move their goalie away from the net. What happened when they deployed that strategy is a play you don’t see every day. Wilton’s goalie, Calabrese, had possession of the ball and was unmarked in the center of the field near his goal. Calabrese saw a wide open net and fired the ball down the field, into the net for the goal with 2:39 left on the clock.
The wet Wilton faithful let out a loud Wilton cheer.
Murtha had the same look at an open net just like Calabrese did, only much closer for his third score of the game, giving the Warriors a 9-5 lead with 1:14 to play.
The Indians tacked on a man advantage goal in the final minute for the 9-6 final.
“We haven’t played consistently, haven’t executed even though we’ve worked hard, and we haven’t played a full 48 minutes,” said Wilton co-captain Murtha. “But tonight we did all of them and came away with the win. We were cutting and moving better on offense, which gave us open looks at the goal, and we put them in. Our defense and goalkeeping was excellent. We limited putting the ball on the ground and we still need to limit our unforced turnovers.”
Wiseman was also pleased with the performance his team put forth, so much so he showed a little humor after the game.
“What was different about tonight’s game was that our best player, who has been missing all season, played in the game tonight. He’s not on the roster but his name is ‘Will To win. ‘Will’ showed up tonight and led the team to win.”