Girls hockey: Warriors stay hot with 4-1 win over Fairfield
After going two months without an FCIAC win, the Wilton-Norwalk girls hockey team has now won two in a row, improving to 3-13 overall and 2-9 in the FCIAC.
Molly Thomas had three goals and an assist to lead Wilton to a 4-1 win over the combined Fairfield team on Saturday afternoon at SoNo Ice House in Norwalk.
Anna Bean also scored and had one assist, with other assists by Elizabeth Craven, Izzy Thelen and Shannon McEveney.
The win had extra significance as it came on Senior Day, with the Warriors honoring its seven seniors and their parents in a ceremony before the start of the game— captains Brooke Jonsson and Elizabeth and Amanda Craven, along with Olivia Phelan, Jessica Walsh, Lia Tavarez and Lily Walsh (who was not able to attend).
Head Coach Pete Maxfield said the Warriors seemed to have turned the corner after playing New Canaan tough in the first period of their game 10 days ago, which carried over into the team's 3-1 win over Trumbull a week ago.
"They've been playing much, much better. They've really figured out that they can play. And now two wins later, in a row, it's a good feeling and they're all very happy," he said.
Wilton had lost to Fairfield earlier in the season, 4-1, and had also lost its earlier game to Trumbull, 4-0.
The all-sophomore line of Thomas, Bean and McEveney accounted for all four Wilton goals on Saturday, although the other line of the Craven sisters, with either Alison Danvers or Lauren Chiappetta, was equally effective in creating scoring chances but couldn't get the puck past Fairfield goalie Sophia Guerrera (24 saves).
"Putting that sophomore line together has really worked. They've really clicked very well. And having the Cravens out there on the other line, with either Alison or Lauren Chiappetta, they're working really well," said Maxfield.
Defensively, the Warriors biggest challenge was trying to contain the speed of Fairfield's Grace Flink, who got behind the defense for breakaways multiple times. She scored on her first attempt, just four minutes into the game, to give Fairfield the early 1-0 lead.
But after that Wilton's goalie, Jonsson, didn't let anything else get by her and the Wilton defensive players — Thelen, Lily Blackwell, Ali Purvis, Caroline Wilson and Lily McDowell — did a good job keeping the puck from the front of the goal.
"I think the only real scoring chances they had were number 10s (Flink), the breakaways. I was on the defense all game, justing trying to make sure they were aware when she's out there and not let her get a head of steam or get behind them," said Maxfield.
Jonsson finished the game with 20 saves, including a stop on Maris Estivez's penalty shot late in the game.
After Fairfield's early goal, the Warriors began to put the pressure on, with Guerrera making a great save on Thomas's backhander, and then robbing Elizabeth Craven in front after a good feed by Danvers.
Thomas finally got Wilton on the board when she came out of the corner and put a shot under the crossbar with 8:21 left in the first period. Elizabeth Craven got he assist.
McEveney, Purvis, Amanda Craven, Bean and Thomas all had shots turned away, before Wilton made it 2-1 with 3:03 left in the period as Thomas was stopped on a breakaway and Bean followed up the play and knocked the loose puck into the goal.
Shots by Bean and Chiappetta (off a good feed by Amanda Craven behind the net) were blocked by Guerrera, and in the final minute of the period Jonsson made a great save after a rush up ice by Estivez.
Thomas made it 3-1 about five minutes into the second period, scoring on a breakaway after a good lead pass out of the Wilton zone by Thelen.
Thomas notched the hat trick with 2:46 left in the second period, knocking in a puck in front after a strong rush up ice by Bean, who got the assist along with McEveney.
Fairfield (4-10) played the game with only nine players, with the other half of the team missing the game because they were taking their ACTs or attending a multi-town dance for high school juniors.
Maxfield said many of the Warriors were also planning to attend the dance, but they didn't want to let their teammates down on Senior Day.
"I think it shows the companionship of our team. They've really bonded together as a team. We have juniors on the team that are going to the dance tonight. They said they would rather be here with the seniors and be a little bit late to the dance, and I think that's really indicative of this team," he said. "They're really, really together and it's great thing to see."