Field hockey: Wilton holds off Ludlowe with late goals

It was Senior Night for the Wilton High field hockey team on Tuesday night, but it was a freshman who provided the night's biggest goal.

Olivia Hahn, a ninth grader, knocked in a deflected shot with 5:18 left to play, snapping a 0-0 tie and powering the Warriors to a 2-0 win in what was a tough battle with Fairfield Ludlowe.

Bridget Ward scored an insurance goal with 1:39 left, as Wilton closed out the regular season with a record of 12-1-2-1, and 12-0-1-1 in the FCIAC.

The Warriors are expected to get the second seed for the upcoming FCIAC playoffs, which open on Friday with a quarterfinal game at home.

The Falcons (9-6-0-0) had some good chances to take the lead in an evenly played first half. Ludlowe’s fast-paced style, and speed, was difficult for the Warriors to contain at times, especially in that first half.

The Warriors took control of the game in the second half, with an 11-3 edge in shots at goal in the half.

“They just started to adjust to (Ludlowe’s) style. One of the things that Ludlowe did excellently was take quick free hits. It took us a little bit to adjust to that,” Wilton head coach Deirdre Hynes said of her team’s second-half performance. “And I think the lines starting playing more in synch — the forwards to the middies, the middies to the ‘D’. And the seniors stepped it up, as they should.”

Both teams had chances to break the deadlock in the second half. For Wilton, Emma Rothkopf put a shot just wide of the far post early in the half, and Caroline Ferro was stopped in front on a save by Allison Wales.

Ludlowe, which used its speed to counterattack successfully, had some good chances in the middle of the half. With 16:20 left, Lauren Beccaria got behind the defense for a near-breakaway, that was defused by the last defender, Sophia Kaplan.

Ludlowe had a golden chance with about 15 minutes left, when the ball deflected to the middle of the arc to a wide-open Melissa Bucher, whose shot from five yards went wide.

The rest of the half saw Wilton relentlessly pressure the Ludlowe defense, getting a series of penalty corners but unable to get the ball past Wales and the Falcons’ defense.

Finally, a hard hit from the right sideline by Jess Hendry was stopped in the arc by Rothkopf, whose shot was blocked. The ball deflected left and Hahn knocked it in for the go-ahead goal.

With 1:39 left, Rothkopf made a great pass through the top of the arc to set up a wide-open shot by Bridget Ward, who blasted a rocket inside the far post from 10 yards.

Ludlowe had opened the game strong, getting an early penalty corner and a couple of dangerous runs into the arc from the left side from the explosive Beccaria, as Erynn Fray had to come up with two early saves in goal for Wilton. The play evened out the rest of the half, which saw both teams get off four shots at goal.

With under four minutes to go in the half, Bucher made a terrific run from midfield into the arc, rolling a dangerous ball to the front of the net. However, Wilton’s Molly Thomas was able to clear the ball just before Lindsay Taylor could get her stick on it.

Wilton had its best scoring chance of the first half with a minute left, on a penalty corner, when Ward’s shot was deflected just wide by Madeline Pagliaro.

For the game, Wilton finished with a 15-7 edge in shots at goal and 13-1 edge in corners. Fray had seven saves for Wilton and Wales nine saves for Ludlowe.

The Falcons, who had already clinched an FCIAC playoff berth, should be a tough opponent for whatever team they face on Friday.

“They’re extremely fast. I have a lot of respect for them,” said coach Hynes. “They played a fast game. They didn’t sub. They took quick free hits. And they didn’t let up on the pressure at all throughout 60 minutes.”

Notes: Wilton honored its eight seniors and their parents in a ceremony before the game. The eight seniors are Meredith Rappaport, Bridget Ward, Delaney Chase, Susie Clasby, Gwen Hall, Caroline Ferro, Katie Leffel and Erynn Fray.