Boys soccer: Wilton ties Norwalk in regular-season finale

With both teams’ post-season plans pretty much set, the Wilton and the Norwalk boys soccer teams played to a 0-0 tie Monday afternoon at Kristine Lilly Field.

Wilton (10-3-3) entered the game having already clinched berths in the FCIAC and state tournaments. By virtue of the one point from their tie with Norwalk, the Warriors finished knotted with Fairfield Ludlowe for the third overall seed in the conference playoffs but got the nod due to the quality win tiebreaker. Wilton and Ludlowe tied, 1-1, in their regular-season meeting, thus negating the first tiebreaker (head-to-head results).

The Warriors will now host a conference quarterfinal contest (at a time to be determined) on Thursday against either Greenwich or Staples.

Norwalk (5-6-5), meanwhile, was not in contention for an FCIAC playoff bid but has qualified for the state tournament.

"Of course we would have liked to win today’s game, but I felt good about the way our team played," said Wilton senior forward Jack Brandt. "We had a lot of players step up today and give a great effort, but our opponent was step for step with us.

"Having a home game for the [FCIAC] playoffs is huge for us," added Brandt. "We like our home turf and are confident no matter who our opponent is."

Both teams came out looking for the victory, as the action was non-stop, end to end. Wilton and Norwalk each had several quality scoring chances, but the keepers, defenses, and goal posts conspired to keep the scoreboard quiet.

In the 13th minute, Brandt got Norwalk goalie Tyler Dalton to come out and defend him, leaving a wide open net. Brandt played the ball to Eric Pelletier, who quickly got off a shot. But a Norwalk defender peeled back to help out his keeper and saved Pelletier's attempt.

Two minutes later it was Wilton’s goalie, Mitch Bascom, who had to come off his line and put a stop to a Norwalk attack. Throughout the game, the Bears used their quick speed and good dribbling skills to create rushes up the field. Norwalk also benefited from Dalton's long goalie kicks that went past the midfield line, opening the field for his teammates.

Play slowed in front of the goals for a good part of the first half, but the pace got back on track in the final five minutes of the period. In the 36th minute, Wilton defender Patrick Prinner stopped one of the Norwalk rushes by cutting off a visiting player from turning the corner and getting an open look.

Wilton was able to change directions in a matter of seconds, leading to a breakaway for Pelletier at the other end of the field. But the ball got too far in front of him and Dalton was able to scoop it up.

With 2:30 remaining in the first half, Norwalk’s Santiago Mesa fired a shot that was saved by the crossbar.

Second-half action was just as intense, but neither team could put the ball in the back of the net. In the final 40 seconds, Wilton had two corner kicks but could not produce a goal.

“The kids showed great intensity and effort tonight and that’s all you can ask for,” said Wilton head coach Jim Lewicki. "[Second-half goalie] Grey [Livingstone] came up big for us in goal in the second half on five their corners. He played each one perfectly to preserve the shutout. Ben Allbee also stepped up on defense in support of his goalies.

"We had a lot of good chances to score, but lacked the needed composure to close the deal," added Lewicki.