Boys lacrosse preview: Wilton looks for similar storyline

If this season’s narrative reprises that of last season, John Wiseman won’t be the one complaining about a lack of originality.

After going 8-8 during the regular season and losing in the conference quarterfinals, the Wilton High boys lacrosse team entered the Class M state tournament as just the 17th seed. But the Warriors proceeded to win five straight games, including a 9-4 triumph over second-seed Joel Barlow in the title contest.

“We got hot at the right time,” said Wiseman, Wilton’s head coach. “Our unity is our strength. We work to create chemistry during the season, and last year we were able to that. We played much better at the end of the season than the beginning.”

Don’t be surprised if something similar happens this spring. Hit hard by graduation, the Warriors enter the 2014 campaign (which starts today at home against Norwalk at 7) with new starters at many positions. That could mean a few bumps in the beginning, which Wiseman is fine with as long as his team keeps improving.

“The goal is to get better, and I think we have the players who are capable of that,” he said. “We are relatively young, with a lot of sophomores and juniors, but they should get more confident over the course of the season.”

The focal point of Wilton’s attack figures to be senior Brendan Devane, an All-FCIAC second-team choice last year. “He’s a returning starter and a prolific scorer,” said Wiseman about Devane. “He should have a good senior season.”

Juniors Christian Hansson and Michael Lynch are the front-runners to start alongside Devane, although sophomore Harrison Cook could also contribute.

Wiseman is hopeful that toward the end of the regular season, or by the start of the post-season, senior Ryan Brameier can join the attack group. Last spring, Brameier missed the beginning of the year due to a torn ACL but returned in time to be a major part of Wilton’s state championship run, scoring several crucial goals. Brameier will again start this season on the sidelines after re-tearing the ACL, but Wiseman believes Brameier can be back on the field near the start of the FCIAC playoffs.

“Ryan was a difference maker when he came back last year, and we’re hoping he can do the same thing this year and provide that spark in the post-season,” said Wiseman.

Wilton’s midfield contingent is led by seniors Will Garbus and Dan Baird. Joining them are classmate Brian Lafond, sophomore Harrison Bardwell, and juniors Reid Melillo and Luke Rizzo.

Wilton’s biggest graduation loss was arguably All-FCIAC and All-State face-off specialist Ted Ottens, who is now playing at Brown University. With Ottens gone, Wiseman will turn to sophomore RJ Romeo.

“I’m not worried,” said Wiseman. “You don’t just replace someone like Ted, but RJ is a real good face-off guy himself.

Another first-year starter is sophomore Michael Brown, who has won the starting spot at long-stick midfielder. “We lost Henry Lee, who was very good, but Michael Brown has tremendous potential,” said Wiseman.

The Warriors also have a capable back-up in senior Hudson McClintock, who has switched from midfield to long-stick midfield.

On defense, Wilton will start three juniors: Jack Dexter, Thomas Courtney and Tyler Mirabile. “They are not necessarily huge take-away defenders, but they have solid fundamentals and positioning,” said Wiseman.

Senior Jake Hudson and junior Mitch Kauffman could also contribute on defense.

In goal, senior Josh Worley and junior Jameson Hill are vying to replace the graduated Connor Johnson. “They are neck and neck,” said Wiseman. “I haven’t decided on a set starter so you will probably see both of them in the season opener. It’s a great problem to have.”

Notes: Wilton lost to Darien, 9-6, in the FCIAC quarterfinals last season.

The Warriors ended last year with a 13-9 record.