Field hockey: Wilton looks sharp in opener

If anybody thought that graduating eight starters would bring the Wilton High field hockey team down a few notches this season, Tuesday’s season opener at New Canaan showed the FCIAC and state that Wilton is still Wilton.

The Warriors, the three-time defending Class M state champs, controlled the game and scored an impressive 4-1 win at Dunning Field.

Wilton finished with a 12-4 edge in shots at goal.

Wilton returns only four players who started last year in senior captains Caroline Taverna, Kristen Godin, Meg Cunningham and Delaney Baxendale. However, the rest of Tuesday’s lineup was made up of players who did see at least some action last year during the team’s runs to the FCIAC and state finals — juniors Jillian Mahon and Maddie Duffy, and sophomores Bridget Ward, Delaney Chase and Meredith Rappaport.

The Warriors scored the first goal just three minutes into the game, after a quick push from midfield started by Duffy, and ending in Cunningham’s goal after passes by Chase and Ward.

The Rams tied the game less than three minutes later when Maddie Gertson’s hit from the right side of the arc bounced through a crowd in front of the goal and into the far side of the cage.

But the Warriors dominated the rest of the first half, with plenty of scoring chances. They finally scored again with 6:15 left in the half when Mahon’s hit from the side was stopped by Duffy in front of goalie Sarah Klearman, and she made a short pass to Chase a few feet behind her for the goal.

Baxendale made it 3-1 early in the second off a penalty corner, taking a pass from Godin and blasting a shot from the left top arc.

Cunningham closed out the scoring by converting on a penalty stroke with nine minutes left to play.

Junior Amanda Hendry finished with three saves in goal. Center back Rappaport showed a lot of poise and did an outstanding job breaking up New Canaan threats, as did outside backs Taverna and Jess Hendry, a freshman who played a solid game.

Wilton also got solid minutes off the bench from freshman midfielder Emma Rosen.