Boys soccer: Rapid-fire goals give Cards a 2-1 win over Wilton in FCIACs

After going unbeaten in the last five games of the regular season, the Wilton boys soccer team came into the FCIAC playoffs with high hopes for a title run. But those were quickly dashed in a span of two minutes in the second half.

Within those 86 seconds, sixth-seed Greenwich scored the two goals that sent third-seed Wilton to a 2-1 loss in an FCIAC quarterfinal game Thursday evening at Kristine Lilly Field.

“We played a good soccer game for 78 minutes tonight, which wasn’t good enough to beat our opponent," said Wilton head coach Jim Lewicki, whose team will now await the start of the Class LL state tournament. "It’s a difficult loss for us, because the team and the coaching staff believed we had what it takes to win it all.

"We made two mental mistakes in the span of two minutes and they turned them into scores," added Lewicki. "We miscommunicated on those two plays and that cost us the game. It’s critical after the other team scores on you to regroup, compose yourself, and not let them get another quick score."

The miscues were at odds with how Wilton (10-4-3) played in the first half, as the hosts were organized, smooth and composed. That led to early and often pressure deep in the Cardinals' side of the field.

The Warriors had several scoring chances in the first 10 minutes of the contest but came up empty. In the third minute, defender Patrick Prinner was left unmarked and freely dribbled his way up the field and to the side on the Greenwich net before taking a shot that went wide.

A few minutes later, Nick Davatzes and Carlos Hernandez had scoring chances, but Davatzes' shot went wide and Hernandez’s attempt was high.

Another opportunity came in the 10th minute. Jack Brandt played a long direct kick into the box that found the head of Harry Allers. Allers flicked the ball towards the corner of the net and had the Greenwich goalie beat, but the header was just wide.

Greenwich (9-3-5) finally got its first chance to get on the board in the 14th minute. The Cardinals had a shot that hit the post and bounced across the goal mouth before being cleared by Prinner. The Greenwich bench cheered momentarily as, from a distance, it looked as though the ball had crossed the goal line.

Wilton took a 1-0 lead in the 22th minute on a set piece. Allers was fouled just outside the box, giving the Warriors a direct kick from about 20 yards. Brandt and Eric Pelletier both lined up near the ball. Brandt made it look as though he was going to take the kick, but Pelletier stepped up and blasted his shot into the corner of the net to break the scoreless tie.

With 2:30 remaining in the first half, the Warriors dodged a bullet on a Greenwich breakaway. A long ball was played deep into the Wilton zone and a Greenwich player split two Wilton defenders and gained possession. Wilton goalie Grey Livingstone hesitated before coming out to make the save and protect his team's 1-0 halftime lead.

But 13 minutes into the second half, Greenwich got the equalizer. The Wilton defense didn't close fast enough on Alejandro MacLean, who was open on the doorstep and scored.

One minute and 26 seconds later, Edouard Quiroga got what turned out to be the game-winner. Wide open in front of the net, Quiroga skillfully put his shot into the near corner, leaving Livingstone with no chance for the save.

The Warriors kept battling, and with 12 minutes left another header from Allers fell in front of the Greenwich net and was cleared by a defender. But the hosts were unable to get the tying goal in the final 10 minutes, as Greenwich advanced to the conference semifinals for the third straight year.

"We played a great first half; we had several good looks to score but we didn’t finish them and that always seems to come back and bite you," said Lewicki. "Give Greenwich credit. They didn’t let our 1-0 lead get to them. They stuck to their game plan and made it work in the second half.”