Boys lacrosse: Wilton downs Staples to move to semifinals

The fourth-seeded Wilton High boys lacrosse team got out to an early 3-0 lead over fifth-seeded Staples and rode it to an 8-4 win in the FCIAC quarterfinals on Monday night at Fujitani Field.

The Warriors (11-5) advance to the semifinals on Wednesday, when they will face the top-seeded Darien Blue Wave at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk at 7. Darien enters the game unbeaten in 71 straight games.

On Monday, the Warriors outplayed the Wreckers in all facets of the game, as they played the preverbal 48 minutes. Wilton out-hustled their opponent to ground balls, got out quick in transition, and got outstanding performances by the defense and the keeper.

“It was a complete team effort right down to the kids on the sidelines. Everybody did what they were supposed to do and it showed,” said Wilton head coach John Wiseman. “We played smart and with confidence and getting out to early lead helped us in the areas. Andrew (Calabrese) was great in goal as was (Joe) Scarfi on defense. (Chris) Sweeney had a great night in the face-off circle, which helps setting up our offense.  On offense we had success pushing the ball up the field and that resulted in several of our goals.”

The game was scoreless for the first five minutes of play until the Warriors broke through with 6:56 left in the opening quarter. Robbie Hermann worked the ball up the field quickly and passed to Scarfi, who found the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

Just over a minute later, Dean DiNanno came from behind the net found an open Brian Calabrese, who scored to make it 2-0.

Wilton’s third goal of the first quarter came in transition, but this time it was Brian Calabrese who fed DiNanno for the score.

Staples finally got of the board with a goal by defensemen Blake Runkle with 2:37 remaining in the quarter, which ended with Wilton up 3-1.

The Warriors opened the scoring in the second quarter with a man-advantage goal just over a minute into the period, as Zach Zeyher fired home a goal for the 4-1 Wilton lead.

A goal by Evan Zinn cut the lead to 4-2 late in the second quarter, but the Warriors regained the three-goal lead as the Brian Calabrese to DiNanno combination worked again with just 13.8 ticks on the clock. Wilton led 5-2 at the half.

Wilton tallied three more times in the third quarter to grow the lead to 8-2 with just over four minutes to play in the period. Connor Drake scored as he put the ball high in the far corner, and that was followed by goals from Joe Murtha and Brian Calabrese. Calabrese’s goal came as the Warriors had the extra man, assisted by DiNanno.

Zinn’s second goal of the game put the score at 8-3 as the third period ended.

Dobson Cooper, the Wreckers face-off man, scored 10 seconds into the fourth quarter for the final score of the game

Sweeney won 12 of 15 faceoffs for the night, helping the Warriors win the possession battle.

Goalies for both teams, Matt Garber for Staples and Andrew Calabrese, were stellar for their respective teams. Garber was credited with 15 saves, while Calabrese had 18 saves.

“When our defense plays with a chip on their shoulder and pushes their players to the outside and keeps the middle free, it gives me great looks at the shots coming my way. And with them working that hard I don’t want to let them down.” said Calabrese. “We played them in a man-to-man defense tonight and the defense stayed on their man. Last time we played them we were in a zone. Tonight’s win just shows that our last win against them wasn’t a fluke.”

Next up for the Warriors is Darien and Calabrese knows that the Warriors will have to be at their best.

“They have legs and run all over the field and move the ball quickly up the field, giving numbers. We’re going to get back on defense and I’m going to have to play better than I did the last time we faced them. I gave up six first quarter goals, putting us in an early hole.”