Girls lacrosse: Turnovers cost Wilton in 9-8 loss to Sacred Heart

Taking a one-goal lead into halftime, the Wilton High girls lacrosse team did just about everything it needed to do in the second half against visiting Sacred Heart Academy — except hold onto the ball

Turnovers proved critical in the Warriors’ 9-8 loss, as they gave away a 7-4 lead with under 15 minutes to play. Wilton turned the ball over six times in 11 second-half possessions, including four of five possessions down the stretch.

“There’s certain aspects of this game that were the best game we played all season. We were patient. We were working together. We didn’t force things on attack,” said head coach Meredith Meyran. “A lot of things were going really, really well, but we just shot ourselves in the foot with the turnovers.”

Wilton fell to 7-6 with the loss, while Sacred Heart, from Hempstead, Long Island, improved to 9-7.

It was the Warriors’ second tough loss to a Long Island team in three days, coming off a 9-7 loss at North Shore on Saturday. It was also the team’s third one-goal defeat of the season, and fourth loss by two goals or less.

“We’re right there. Everything is these one- and two-goal losses. We’ve got to put in the time individually on our own to fix these mistakes,” said Meyran. “We made a lot of defensive stops. We made the stops we needed to make. We just didn’t clear the ball.”

Wilton jumped out to a 2-0 lead about nine minutes into the Monday’s game, but Sacred Heart scored two goals, both after Wilton turnovers, to tie the game 2-2 with seven minutes to go in the first half.

The Spartans took their first lead with 6:15 left but Wilton closed out the half with two goals in the final 3:28 — the first by Paisley Eagan and the second by Lilla Seymour — to take a 4-3 halftime lead.

The Warriors won the first two draw controls of the second half, leading to goals by Erika Bonnist and Eagan to make it 6-3 with 22:03 left to play. Wilton won the next draw control, as well, but turned the ball over and Sacred Heart cashed in to cut the lead to 6-4 with 20:51 left.

Wilton tallied an extra-player goal with 14:22 left to go up 7-4, as Ellie Armstrong took a pass from Eva Greco at the side of the net and scored from in front on a high shot.

The Spartans answered quickly as Audrey Mandaro won the draw control and Cara Urbank scored after circling from behind the cage to make it 7-5.

After Mandaro won another draw, Wilton goalie Paige Brown stopped Urbank’s free-position shot, and defender Ella Mannix drew a charge to give Wilton the ball.

The Spartans then picked up the ball pressure in their defensive zone, and the Warriors were unable to clear the ball on three straight possessions, leading to goals by Clare Casey with 10:17 left and Urbank with 9:46 left to tie things up, 7-7.

Erika Bonnist won the ensuing draw control, and the Warriors were able to hold the ball for the next five-plus minutes, before Eagan scored on a nice move and high shot from eight meters to put Wilton up 8-7 with 4:22 left.

Sacred Heart won the draw control, but Eagan forced a turnover to get Wilton the ball. However, the Warriors threw the ball away, and the Spartans pulled even again, 8-8, with 2:03 left on Maggie Casey’s goal.

The Spartans won the next draw and held possession until Clare Casey scored off a free position with 18 seconds left to put Sacred Heart up 9-8.

The Warriors were not done, however, as Eagan won the ball off the ensuing draw and raced to the goal. Off a restart, she found Bonnist open to the right of the goal, but Sacred Heart goalie Kate Mauro made the point-blank save with under five seconds left to seal the win.

The Warriors won seven of 11 draws in the second half, and for the game had a 10-9 edge in draw controls.

Eagan led Wilton with four goals and one assist, while Armstrong, Greco, Bonnist and Seymour scored one goal each. Greco also had an assist.

Eagan and Sydney Brant had three groundballs each to lead Wilton in that department, and Maddie Duffy came up with two groundballs. Armstrong, Greco, Bonnist and Seymour each had one groundball.

Eagan also had two caused turnovers, with one caused turnover each by Zoe Lash, Sarah Hinck and Wistreich.

Brown made six saves in goal for Wilton.

Clare Casey led the Spartans with four goals, while Urbank had two goals and Izzy Grant, Kennedy Slater and Maggie Casey had one goal each. Mauro made three saves in goal.