Field hockey: Warriors move to finals on Chase's overtime goal

Delaney Chase’s goal with 56 seconds left in overtime gave the Wilton High field hockey team a thrilling 3-2 win over Norwalk in the FCIAC semifinals on Tuesday night at Brien McMahon High School.

The win advances the Warriors to the FCIAC championship for the second straight year, and seventh time in the last 11 years. Wilton has never won an FCIAC title in field hockey.

The top-seeded Warriors (14-1-2-1) will face second-seeded Staples (15-0-2-0) in the championship game Thursday night at 7 at Brien McMahon. The Wreckers beat defending FCIAC champ Darien in Tuesday’s other semifinal match, 2-1.

Wilton and Staples played to a scoreless tie during the regular season.

Tuesday’s game was a classic, as the fourth-seeded Bears (13-2-0-2), who handed Wilton it’s only FCIAC loss during the season (in overtime), rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the second half, scoring the dramatic equalizer on a penalty corner after time had expired.

With the team’s playing seven on seven in the 10-minute, sudden victory overtime period, it was Wilton’s depth that ultimately won out over Norwalk’s speed. The Warriors were able to rotate players into the lineup and keep the pressure on the Bears.

The winning goal came off a corner set up by a run by Caroline Ferro, who had two goals and an assist on the night, in addition to creating many other scoring chances with her impressive dribbling.

On the game winner, Ferro took a pass from Bridget Ward in the right circle. Her initial shot was blocked but she gathered the ball, pivoted and rolled a shot to the middle, where Chase — parked right in front, five yards out — tipped it through the legs of goalie Samantha Troetti.

“It was amazing. I didn’t believe it at first,” recalled Chase, who said the Warriors needed to bounce back in overtime after the shocking end to regulation.

“We just pumped each other up and told each other that we were going to do it, and that we were dominating the game, so we’d be able to dominate the overtime, too,” she said.

Wilton had dominated the first half, with an 11-2 edge in corners and 9-1 edge in shots at goal, but Troetti was spectacular, making nine saves in the half. Norwalk didn’t get a shot on goal until about 24 minutes had expired, when Kaitlin Uralowich’s hard hit was turned away on a great leg save by Wilton goalie Emma Likly.

The Warriors nearly broke the deadlock just at the end of the half, but Emma Rothkopf's goal came just after time expired.

Despite controlling the game, the Warriors knew the Bears would come back in the second half, as they did during the season when they rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to score a 2-1 win.

“We said at halftime anything can happen with this team. They do big hits and they live and die on fast breaks and corners. So we can dominate the game but if we don’t score we know they could easily have scored,” said Wilton head coach Deirdre Hynes. “The worst case scenario did happen. They got a corner with time expired and converted on it.”

The second half was more evenly played and more wide open, which was more to Norwalk’s style. The Bears had an excellent early chance after a run into the arc by Marissa Mastrianni, and Likly save, but it was Wilton that got on the scoreboard first, when Ferro scored off a Ward assist with about 20 minutes left to play.

Ferro scored again less than two minutes later, after an end-to-end push by Meredith Rappaport, who got the assist, to make it 2-0.

Norwalk answered back a few minutes later and made it 2-1 on a corner. Likly had made a glove save on the initial shot, but Gracie Bradley was in front to get the loose ball and send it to the left post, where Mastrianni deflected it into the cage.

With about six minutes left, a ball got behind the Wilton defense and Mastrianni took it into the arc, forcing Likly to come 10 yards out of goal to make a sliding stop.

It looked as if that would be Norwalk’s last golden opportunity. But with time running out, the Bears kept pushing for the tying goal, and they earned a penalty corner as the clock went under 10 seconds. With the clock already at zero, Uralowich blasted a shot from the top of the arc that went through the pads of Likly (who was screened) and into the goal.

“It was very angering, just became we had worked so hard,” Ferro said of Wilton’s mindset going into overtime. “It was just kind of frustrating.”

Coach Hynes felt that in the end, the Warriors’ depth was the difference in overtime.

“We had some fresh legs coming in. That’s our key. We’re pretty deep. When we go into overtime I know we can constantly keep subbing fresh legs out there and strong skills out there, too,” she said.

For the game, Wilton had a 17-11 edge in corners, and 21-12 edge in shots on goal. Troetti made 16 saves for Norwalk and Likly had 10 saves for Wilton.