Boys lacrosse preview: Experience a plus for deep Wilton squad

With almost every starter back and depth on every line, the Wilton High boys lacrosse team has the look of a contender as it enters the 2017 season.

The Warriors again have a young team, but last year’s freshmen and sophomores now have a year under their belts. Now it’s a matter of putting it to good use.

“We have a strong nucleus and a group of guys who have been together and played together, and hopefully they can build on that,” said head coach John Wiseman. “We have to form our identity. Each team is different in terms of creating that chemistry.”

The Warriors open the season on Tuesday at home (6:30) against Trumbull, and have a big early-season game on Wednesday at New Canaan (4:30).

Wilton graduated several key players from last year’s 13-6 squad — notably attackman Harrison Koch (second-team all-FCIAC), midfielder Harrison Bardwell (second-team all-FCIAC), FOGO R.J. Romeo (first-team all-FCIAC), long-stick middie Michael Brown (second-team all-FCIAC), and defenseman Michael McGroarty.

Koch and Bardwell were the team’s top two scorers last season.

Replacing Romeo, a two-time all-American, at the face-off ‘X’ is the biggest challenge this year. Wiseman said junior Chris Sweeney, who was Romeo’s backup last year, is ready to move into the starting role.

On attack, the Warriors return junior Brian Calabrese, a three-year starter who was the team’s third leading scorer last year, and senior captain Kieran McGovern, who was fourth in goals scored. Calabrese was named to the all-FCIAC East squad last season, and McGovern was honorable mention all-FCIAC.

Sophomore Liam Sullivan, who saw varsity time a year ago, moves into the third attack spot, while sophomore Dean DiNanno and junior Roger McDermott will also be vying for playing time.

Despite the loss of Bardwell, the midfield line is stacked, with five returners who played key roles last year.

The top midfield line includes returning starters in sophomore Connor Drake (all-FCIAC honorable mention), one of the top-rated sophomores in the country, junior Joe Murtha and senior captain Peter Koch (all-FCIAC East). Senior Liam Rance and junior Zach Zeyher are two more returning players who were regulars last season on the midfield line, which will also look for contributions from junior Nolan Quinn and senior Jason Spaulding.

“We have a lot of depth at midfield,” said coach Wiseman.

Junior Joe Scarfi, who backed up Brown at LSM last year, moves into the starting lineup this season, while junior Will Litton and senior Harley Jeanty will play defensive midfield. Litton, who hasn’t played lacrosse in a few years, brings a ton of athleticism and power to the team.

AJ Hoffman, the team’s third senior captain, anchors the close defense. A three-year starter, he is “one of the better defenders in the state,” said Wiseman. Last year, Hoffman was second-team all-FCIAC.

The Warriors also return their other two starting close defenders from a year ago in sophomore Tyler Previte and Ryan Schriber, who worked their way into the starting lineup last year as ninth graders.

Returning seniors Steffen Nobles and Colin Carroll will also be part of the defensive rotation.

Wilton will be solid in goal with returning starter Andrew Calabrese, a sophomore who was impressive last season as a freshman. The team also returns senior goalie Salvatore Dominick.

Winning FCIAC and state titles is always the goal at Wilton, said Wiseman, and this year is no different.

“I don’t think there’s any other goal or choice in Wilton. If you grow up in this town and play lacrosse, there’s expectations. I think it’s realistic. It’s achievable,” he said of the team’s title hopes. “The goal is getting better. We’ll look to build on the foundation we’re starting with — building and growing every practice, every game. We know that will lead to our ultimate goal. There’s going to be ups and downs, and it’s how we respond to each one of those things.”

Notes: Rounding out the roster are seniors Nick DiSanto, Jack Wood, Charles Hess and Jacob Ellison and juniors Richard Tomasetti, Will Sullivan, Matt Arrix, Ryan Ettie, AJ Pykosz and Tyler Smith.
— J.B. Cozens