Boys soccer: Allers scores twice as Wilton wins state opener

Senior Harry Allers found the back of the net once in each half to lead the Wilton High boys soccer team to a 2-0 win over Shelton in a Class LL state tournament first-round game Tuesday night at Kristine Lilly Field.

The 15th-seeded Warriors will now face second-seed New Milford in a second-round game Thursday at 2 p.m. in New Milford. New Milford received a bye in the first round.

There’s one thing you can count on when you play for a team coached by [Wilton head coach] Jim Lewicki, and it is that he’s going thoroughly scout his opponent to formulate a game plan. And that preparation helped set up Allers' first goal.

Senior co-captain Patrick Prinner lined up his direct kick from the midfield line and played the ball on net. The Shelton goalie was indecisive on how to play the ball, which bounced in front of the keeper to Allers, whose header staked Wilton to a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute.

“The coach [Lewicki] told us the defensive tactic they deploy and we practiced against that style during the week” said Allers. “I was able to get behind the defense, and when the goalie made a mistake I just headed the ball into the net."

"I did my homework and saw that they play an off-sides trap, and we told our players to look for that and try to exploit it," said Lewicki.

The Warriors got off to a fast start, going right on the attack and getting Allers' goal to show for their efforts. Meanwhile, the Gaels overcame a sluggish beginning to pick up their pace in the latter part of the first half.

Shelton, which won the SEC conference title and ended the regular season going 11-2 in its final 13 games, had several chances for scores late in the first half but came away empty. The Gaels couldn’t capitalize on a flurry near the Warriors' goal that resulted from the Wilton defense’s failure to effectively clear the ball out of goal box.

The Warriors upped their lead to 2-0 in the 49th minute on Allers' second goal of the game. Allers used his outstanding ball skills and control to dribble by two Shelton defenders before blasting a rocket into the back of the net from 23 yards out.

Shelton was unable to respond, as Wilton's defense pitched the shutout. One reason was the return of senior center back and captain Matt Ravichandran, the team's spiritual leader, who had missed the second half of the season with an injury.

“It felt great to get back on the field with my teammates," said Ravichandran. "It was hard watching from the bench, but I wanted to show them my support by cheering them on.

"It was great team win tonight; we showed a lot of energy and everyone who came onto the field gave a great effort," added Ravichandran. "We wanted to erase our early exit from the FCIAC playoffs with a win, but we know after enjoying today's win that we have to get ready for the next game."

“One of the toughest things to do is get by the first round of the playoffs,” said Lewicki.“The kids worked really hard out there tonight, executed the game as we drew it up, and were firing on all cylinders tonight.

"The team came out very focused on the task at hand, moved the ball around very well, and never let up," continued Lewicki. "We have a lot of senior leadership and experience on this team, and the coaching staff does whatever it takes to give them what they need to do to be successful.”