Field hockey: Wilton falls short in FCIAC finals

The Wilton High field hockey team’s run through the FCIAC playoffs ended on Thursday night with a 3-0 loss to Darien in the championship game at Brien McMahon High School.

The Warriors trailed 1-0 at the half, before the Blue Wave blew things open with two goals in the opening three minutes of the second half.

“Obviously the Darien speed got us a little frazzled. The girls tried to keep their composure and make sure they were marking, and at times (Darien’s speed) just got the best of us,” said Wilton co-coach Liz Pisko.

The Blue Wave (16-2-1-0) were led by Kiki Tropsa with two goals and Sydney Schrenker with a goal and assist.

The Warriors (14-4-0-1) now move to the Class L state playoffs, with a first-round game at Staples next Wednesday. Wilton is seeded 10th and the Wreckers are seeded seventh.

Darien scored the first goal with 17:42 left in the first half when Kendall Wisinski’s hit from the 40-yard line deflected off a stick and was chased down by Tropsa about 10 yards in front of the goal. She rolled a shot past Wilton goalie Megan Kaeyer, charging out of the goal, and into the cage.

The Warriors took the play to the Blue Wave for most of the final 15 minutes of the first half. Goalie Erica Blaze made a diving stop on a shot by Emma Rothkopf at about the 12-minute mark, and on a corner kicked away a hit from mid-arc by Jess Hendry. She later came out to deny Olivia Hahn on shot to the right of the goal. Wilton had a near-connection on another corner, and then a shot by Rothkopf that deflected wide.

Wilton had a 6-3 edge in shots at goal and 6-2 edge in corners in the first half.

The Blue Wave came out on fire to open the second half, making it 2-0 just 1:08 into the half on a corner. Katie Elders’ pass from the right side of the arc was tipped by Schrenker and then knocked in at the far post by Tropsa.

The lead went to 3-0 just 1:36 later when Elders took the ball into the top of the arc and rolled a pass to Schrenker, who lifted a shot high into the right upper corner of the goal.

Wilton had scoring chances over the final 25 minutes, with Blaze making some point-blank saves and another Wilton shot hitting off the post. The Warriors had a breakaway in the dying seconds but Blaze came out to break up the play and preserve the shutout.

“We still continued to play. The girls didn’t give up. They fought to the last second of the game,” said co-coach Toniann Cortina. “They knew the game was over but they obviously did not stop playing, so you’ve got to give them credit for that.”

The Warriors had a 9-6 edge in shots at goal for the game, and 8-4 advantage in penalty corners.

Blaze finished the game with eight saves, while Kaeyer had three saves for Wilton.

For the fifth-seeded Warriors, it was their fourth trip to the finals in five years. With two new coaches, many new starters and several players at new positions, the team was a work in progress much of the season — but it all came together in time for the playoffs.

“It was a learning curve for all of us,” said coach Pisko. “I’m proud of each and every one of these girls. We came together, and to be here again is just an accomplishment in itself.”