Boys soccer: Wilton clinches state playoff berth

The Wilton High boys soccer team has had to fight and claw for everything this season, with an inexperienced team and an FCIAC that is considered to be the strongest and most balanced conference in the state.

So it wasn’t surprising that the Warriors (5-7-3) walked off the field after Friday’s 1-1 tie at Stamford in a jubilant mood.

The tie, against one of the FCIAC’s top teams, clinched a spot in the Class L playoffs, ending Wilton’s one-year absence from the state tournament.

After an 0-3-1 start, Wilton has gone 5-4-2, which includes one-goal losses to Ridgefield and Trumbull.

“It’s nice to have a second season. None of these kids have been in the state tournament, so it’s exciting for them,” said head coach Jim Lewicki, whose squad closes out the regular season tonight at Fairfield Ludlowe. “We’re playing well. We’re starting to come around, and everybody’s healthy.”

Stamford (10-4-1) came into Friday’s game looking to improve its seeding for the FCIAC playoffs, but it was Wilton that controlled the game in the first half. John Brown’s goal off a free kick gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead, and they had some great chances to add to the lead as Stamford’s keeper stopped well-placed shots by Alec Ziluca in the first half and Kevin Connolly in the second half.

“They may have taken us a little lightly,” said Lewicki. “Their keeper made a couple of great diving saves that really kept them in the game.”

Stamford tied the game on a penalty kick with about 16 minutes left, but Wilton was able to hold the Knights off down the stretch to leave with the tie.

“They’re a good team. Our defense did a great job keeping them out and we were able to weather the storm,” said Lewicki.

After tonight’s game against Ludlowe, the Warriors will be off for either 12 days (if they have to play a Class L qualifying game) or 14 days (if they open with a first-round game on Oct. 6).

Lewicki said playing a tough slate of FCIAC opponents will serve the Warriors well in the Class L tourney, where they will be the only FCIAC team.

“We’re a good team. We played some great games and we played some real stinkers,” he said. “It’s not how you start the season, it’s how you end the season, and how you’re playing. Hopefully, we’re hitting our stride.”

Notes: Last Wednesday, the Warriors ended a three-game losing skid with a 4-0 win at home over Brien McMahon on Senior Night. Wilton got two goals from Michael Zizzadoro and single tallies from Connolly and Ziluca.