Boys soccer: Wilton tops New Milford, advances to state quarterfinals
Second-half goals from seniors Harry Allers and David Schneidman led the Wilton High boys soccer team to a 2-1 victory over second-seed New Milford in the second round of the Class LL state tournament Thursday in Brookfield.
Wilton, the 15th-seed, will now play seventh-seed Farmington in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 2 at Tunis Mead in Farmington. Farmington edged 10th-seed Danbury, 2-1, in another second-round game Thursday.
New Milford began the game by applying pressure around the Wilton net. In the fourth minute a throw-in by Cooper Knight found the head of Adrian Lekaj near the goal, but Wilton keeper Mitch Bascom was there for the save.
The Warriors weathered the early storm by New Milford and started to carry the play into the attacking third of the field, leading to five quality scoring chances. In the sixth minute, senior co-captain Jack Brandt played a long direct kick into the box that wasn't capitalized on, and in the 15th minute a blast by Allers hit off the crossbar, as he had the Green Wave goalie beat up high.
Allers had another chance four minutes later. New Milford's goalie came up with a save off a shot from Eric Pelletier, but the ball scurried loose in front of the net. Allers got a foot on it, but his shot was wide.
Following the scoreless opening half, the game got its first goal in the 46th minute — and it came from the head of Allers. Pelletier lofted a corner kick to the far post, where Allers was positioned to head the ball into the net, giving the Warriors a 1-0 lead.
Wilton took a 2-0 lead on Schneidman’s goal with 15:42 left in the game.
“Harry (Allers) had the ball and was moving into the corner," said Schneidman. "When I saw that, it’s my job to cut inside and give him a passing option. He popped the ball to me, but I didn’t take the shot right away because I felt it would have been blocked by the defender. I faked a shot, got some space, saw the goalie move, and I had an open shot on the goal.
"We played against a great team today, but our tough conference schedule prepares us for the playoff atmosphere and we are not afraid to play anybody," added Schneidman. "For me it wasn’t hard getting motivated for today’s game. We have [senior defender] Matt (Ravichandran), who couldn’t wait to get back on the field after an early season injury, to help lead the team and I wanted to come home with the win for Jordan Lord and Carlos Hernandez, who couldn’t make the trip due to medical issues. It’s hard not to play at your highest level when you have the teammates we have."
Just as important as the goals from Allers and Schneidman was the defensive play of Ravichandran, who was playing his second game since recovering from injury. In the 61st minute, New Milford's Spencer Ranno headed a corner kick that was on its way into the Warrior goal. But Ravichandran was well positioned at the post and headed the attempt away, keeping New Milford scoreless.
New Milford finally got on the board in the 70th minute, on a goal by Hunter Barrett. But the Warriors were able to preserve their 2-1 lead and advance to the quarterfinals.
"The kids came out and gave me another 80 minutes of soccer, and they have another win to show for it," said Wilton head coach Jim Lewicki. "I played 18 or 19 kids today and we didn’t miss a step no matter who I put out there. They all want give it their best effort and not let their teammates down, and this is the part of the season that we need that kind of mentality and effort.
"We beat a great team today," added Lewicki. "We were able to neutralize their top offensive players and we applied good pressure on them the entire game."
Notes: Bascom was solid in net for the Warriors, as played his second straight complete game and was credited with two saves.
The game was moved to Brookfield High School due to unplayable conditions on New Milford's grass playing field.