Girls lacrosse: Cards nip Wilton on Mautner's overtime goal

For the second time in three games, the Wilton High girls lacrosse team lost a nail-biter to an FCIAC rival, this time a 12-11 overtime loss at Greenwich on Saturday.

Paige Mautner scored off the draw to begin the overtime period to win the game for the Cardinals. It was the sixth goal of the game for Mautner.

The Warriors dropped to 2-2.

“We’re right there. We’ve lost two games this season by a total of two goals. These girls are getting experience every single game, every single situation, and we’re going to be that much better tomorrow because of that,” said Wilton coach Meredith Meyran. “If you win a couple more ground balls or a couple more draw controls, or make one more stop on defense, or make one more pass, that can be the difference maker. So we just have to focus on the little things, and clean that kind of stuff up and this team will really be ready moving forward. These girls, with experience, will learn how to finish it.”

The Cardinals, bouncing back from a 14-10 loss to New Canaan, improved to 3-1.

“I think we grew a lot as a team this week, and obviously the last 50-plus minutes,” said Greenwich coach Caitlin Young, adding that the Cardinals showed a lot of mental strength to pull out the win. “(It) was really great for them this early in the season to display that resilience and the confidence and will to keep going.”

Wilton found itself in a big hole early, as the Cardinals jumped out to a 4-0 lead just over five minutes into the game. Greenwich dominated draw controls and held possession of the ball for what seemed almost the entire first 12 to 15 minutes of the game.

Wilton clawed its way back on goals by Eva Greco and Rebecca Wistreich to make it 4-2, and Greenwich scored on consecutive possessions to go up 6-2 with 10:27 left in the first half. But the Warriors rallied and scored four straight goals in a span of 3:30 to tie the game with 3:36 left in the half.

Mautner scored right off the ensuing draw, getting behind the defense for a breakaway off a pass from Romy Villemure, and then scored with 1:13 left to make it 8-6 at halftime.

Wilton controlled the early portion of the second half, and tied things up again on goals by Paisley Eagan and Ellie Armstrong. The Warriors then took their first lead of the game, with 17:36 left in regulation, when Julia Bonnist finished off a fast break off an assist from Lilla Seymour.

Greenwich goalie Kathryn Crouchley made a couple of big saves in the following minutes to keep it a one-goal game, allowing Mautner tied it up again with 13:21 left after a long run and pass ahead by Villemure. Elizabeth Lufki then put the Cardinals up, 10-9, with 9:39 left when she scored on a free position.

Eagan answered only 34 seconds later, also on a free position shot, to tie things at 10-10, and a free position goal by Maggie O’Gorman had the Cardinals up 11-10 with 5:08 left. Eagan scored off a strong run and shot inside the far post with 4:12 left, making it 11-11.

Both defenses came up with key turnovers down the stretch to force the game into overtime.

The overtime period only lasted 17 seconds, as Mautner came up with the ball off the draw and took it about 50 yards to score the game-winner.

“We actually moved her to the middie position on the defensive end on that last draw and it paid dividends for us at the end obviously, where she came up with the draw and went kind of coast-to-coast,” said coach Young. “She’s just a great athlete. You can put the kid anywhere on the field and she makes an impact.”

In addition to Mautner’s six goals, the Cardinals got three goals from Lufki and single tallies from Erika Bloes, O’Gorman and Kathryn Harford.

Eagan led Wilton with five goals and an assist, while Greco and Wistreich each had two goals and one assist. Bonnist and Armstrong had one goal and one assist each.

“Today was the best offense that we ran all year, and our girls are really building chemistry with one another,” said coach Meyran. “We’re a young team. We’ve got a whole bunch of new people on the field, so it’s exciting to watch them come together.”

Caroline Schultz played the first half in goal for the Cardinals and had one save, and Crouchley had three saves in the second half.

Freshman Bridgette Wall came into the game in the opening minutes and was outstanding in goal for Wilton, finishing with eight saves in her first varsity action.

“She stepped up to the plate and she made some saves and we really needed her to do that. So I’m really proud of her,” Meyran said of Wall.

After struggling on draws (and ball possession) early on, the Warriors evened things out the rest of the way — which was key to their comeback.

“We changed it up on the draw. Sydney Brant did a great job stepping in there and making the draw go to our offensive end and we were able to win a lot more 50/50 balls there, and really just gut it out,” Meyran said. “It’s pretty hard to win when you don’t have the ball. But I thought we did a great job of fighting back and erasing the hole that we were in. And the girls played together and they played as a team, and in the end the ball just didn’t bounce our way.”