Boys lacrosse: Wilton knocks Mercer Island from unbeaten ranks

Hailing from Washington state, the Mercer Island boys lacrosse team headed east to play three games in Connecticut this week. But after picking up victories over Joel Barlow and Xavier to stay unbeaten, Mercer saw its undefeated run end with a 15-12 loss to Wilton on Saturday night at Fujitani Field.

Wilton improved its record to 2-0, while Mercer fell to 12-1.

“They (Mercer) came out this way last year and played some teams in Massachusetts. They look for the teams that won championships the previous year and try to schedule games with them,” said Wilton head coach John Wiseman. “It’s great for both teams and it helps promote the sport."

The Warriors jumped on their West Coast opponent to take a 4-0 lead in the first six minutes of play. Dan Baird got things going for the home team by opening the scoring just 2:02 into the game with a goal assisted by Will Garbus.

Brendan Devane followed with two scores and Michael Lynch picked up his first goal of the game with 6:11 left in the first quarter.

Wilton possessed the ball for almost the first five minutes of the game, as the Islanders couldn’t advance past midfield. One of the reasons for that was Wilton face-off specialist RJ Romeo, who won the first four draws, giving his team the ball.

“Getting out to a quick lead helped us relax and play loose,” said Devane. “We went out and did what the coaches told us to do. We moved the ball well on offense and got off good shots on goal."

Mercer got on the board with two goals late in the first period to cut the Wilton lead to 4-2, but Devane notched his third goal of the period for the hat trick with 9.4 seconds left in the quarter for a 5-2 lead.

Goals by Reid Melillo and Harrison Bardwell early in the second quarter gave Wilton a 7-2 advantage. Mercer got one goal back midway through the period, but Warrior scores by Lynch and Garbus staked the hosts to a 9-3 lead at the half.

Devane’s fourth goal of the night in the third quarter gave the Warriors a 10-3 lead, but the Islanders chipped away to pull within 11-7 at the end of the third quarter.

Garbus scored to put Wilton ahead 12-7 early in the final quarter. Mercer answered 14 seconds later off a Wilton turnover  and put another shot in the net with 8:40 to play to make the score 12-9.

The Warriors regrouped and ripped off three goals — with the last two from Lynch coming only 13 seconds apart — to take a 15-9 lead. Mercer kept fighting and got one goal back with 3:06 to play and then added two quick goals with 1:16 and 45 seconds left for the 15-12 final.

Devane and Lynch both had four goals on the night for Wilton. Garbus and Melillo had two goals each, and Baird, Bardwell and Koch added one goal apiece.

Jameson Hill started in net for Wilton and recorded seven saves in the first half, while Josh Worley was in goal in the second half and picked up nine saves.

For Mercer Island, Cooper Johnson had four goals and Evan Condon and Peter Mahon scored two goals each.

Mercer goalie Ben Rothenberg recorded 12 saves, coming up big to keep his team in the game.

“My guys came out and executed the game plan well," said Wiseman. "They showed good energy early to take the quick lead, which was great. We had some issues in the second half, but it’s still early in the season and those are things we have to work on.”

Notes: Mercer Island is located in the metropolitan area surrounding Seattle, on Lake Washington. Each player on the team had to pay his own way to make the trip, in addition to money collected through fund-raising.