Field hockey: Strong start powers Wilton past New Canaan, 4-0

The Wilton High field hockey team put in a dominating first-half effort to build a 3-0 lead and went on to score a surprisingly comfortable 4-0 win over New Canaan on Wednesday afternoon at home.

It was the 11th win of the season for the Warriors, who improved to 11-0-2-1 overall and 11-0-1-1 in the FCIAC.

It was the second game in three days that Wilton had come out strong and steamrolled an opponent in the first half, as the Warriors looked to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Norwalk.

“I do think Norwalk was a very good learning experience,” said senior co-captain Bridget Ward. “Because the postseason is right around the corner, we knew we had to step it up the rest of our games and in the postseason to go as far as we want.”

“I think it kicked in — this is real. It’s really getting to the end of our season. We needed to pick it up,” added the team’s other senior co-captain, Meredith Rappaport.

The Warriors controlled the first 30 minutes, with a 9-1 advantage in shots at goal in the first half.

They took a 1-0 lead less than five minutes in, with Delaney Chase scoring off an assist by Emma Rothkopf. Ward knocked one in with 14:26 left in the half, off a Susie Clasby assist, to make it 2-0.

Wilton went up 3-0 with 28 seconds left before halftime, when Ward rolled a pass to the top of the arc, where Rappaport blasted a terrific shot inside the left post.

The halftime score have been much worse for the Rams, if not for some great play by goalie Emily Gaeta, who had six saves in the half.

The Rams came out of halftime fired up and controlled much of the first 10 minutes of the second half. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get the ball into the cage despite some excellent chances. Wilton goalie Emma Likly blocked an open shot by Tigger Nesbet, and Lauren Sturm later deflected a hard pass from 10 yards out wide of the cage.

Later in the half, Cameron Dayton made a push up the right side and rolled a ball to the front of the goal, but Likly was able to kick it clear before Lily Decker could get her stick on it.

New Canaan’s best chance came with about a minute left, when Likly came way out of goal to block a breakaway by Ellery Baran.

Wilton scored its final goal with 13:19 left, off a well-executed penalty corner, with Emma Rosen and Ward trading passes before Rosen sent the ball to Rappaport in the middle. Her shot was blocked, as was a rebound attempt by Sophia Kaplan, before the ball was knocked in by Clasby.

For the game, Wilton had a 13-6 edge in shots at goal and 11-5 edge in corners. Gaeta finished with eight saves for New Canaan and Likly had six saves for Wilton.

It was the 10th shutout of the season for the Wilton defense, which was again anchored by Rappaport, Kaplan, Jess Hendry, Molly Thomas and Katie Leffel.

New Canaan, which had won five straight coming into Wednesday's game, dropped to 9-4-1-0 overall with the loss, and 9-4 in the FCIAC.

Head coach Alyssa Havens said the Rams dug themselves into too big of a hole in the first half.

“We came out better in the second half. We’re out a couple of starters, and it definitely makes a difference when one of your captains (Mariana Ferreira ) isn’t playing,” she said. “They came back. They fought through whatever happened in the first half and came out much better. We had the opportunities. We just need to finish.”