Girls lacrosse: Warriors beat Cheshire in quarterfinals

A 5-0 run over the final 6:50 of the first half helped the Wilton High girls lacrosse team build a seven-goal halftime cushion, and the Warriors rode the big lead to a 13-8 win at Cheshire on Thursday in the Class L quarterfinals.

The 13th-seeded Warriors (10-9) advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals against top-seeded Darien.

Sophomore Eva Greco, who had been sidelined for two weeks with a torn gluteal muscle, returned to action to score five first-half goals, despite being face-guarded most of the time.

“We knew Cheshire was a great team and knew we had to come out strong and play Wilton lacrosse, and I think we did a good job today,” said Greco, who feels it’s a different Wilton team than the one that came into the state playoffs with five losses in six games.

“We struggled a little bit but we knew we could pull together and come back as one and connect again,” she said.

Head coach Meredith Meyran said the key to the first half was Wilton’s play on the defensive end to hold Cheshire to three first-half goals.

“I felt in the first half we held them because we were playing such good defense. They’re a very powerful team. This is one of the best teams outside the FCIAC that we’ve ever played. They’ve got some real legitimate threats,” she said, adding that she had no doubt the Rams would battle back in the second half. “We were very lucky at the end of the first half, getting those quick goals to build that lead, because we knew that was coming and we knew they were capable of that.”

The game was tied 2-2 about 10 minutes into the first half when Greco scored twice to make it 4-2, and Julia Bonnist scored on the run a few minutes later to make it 5-2.

Brooke Jackson’s goal helped Cheshire cut the lead to 5-3 with 7:13 left in the half, and Wilton answered right back when Paisley Eagan scored after weaving through the defense to make it 6-3.

Greco scored in front off a feed by Lilla Seymour from behind the goal with just under four minutes to go in the half, and Wilton scored three goals in the final minute of the half — by Greco, Sydney Brant and Seymour — for a 10-3 halftime lead.

Eagan extended the lead to 11-3 early in the second half, but the Rams outscored Wilton 5-2 the rest of the way — and could have scored more had it not been for several fine saves by Paige Brown in goal.

The Warriors had scoring chances in the final 25 minutes, but either were off-target (plus two or three shots that hit the pipe) or thwarted by goalie Carolynn Pechmann (nine saves).

While the decision-making on some shots wasn’t what she would have liked, coach Meyran was happy with how hard the Warriors battled to force turnovers and win groundballs.

“We really fought back on the ride to get the ball back and we really did a good job in transition coming up with groundballs and 50/50s, so I was really proud of that effort,” Meyran said.

For fifth-seeded Cheshire, it was the end of a strong 14-6 season by a young squad that has a bright future. On Tuesday, however, Wilton proved a little too overpowering.

“They’re obviously a strong team. They were 8-8 in the regular season. That’s a little deceiving when you look at the teams that they’re playing, so we knew what we were playing against today,” said Cheshire head coach Dan Warburton of the Warriors. “I think honestly it took us a little bit to get kind of adjusted to their speed and making sure you were denying cuts. There aren’t a lot of teams that play like some of the FCIAC teams.

“Once we got adjusted to that speed and once we started playing instead of looking tentative, we held our own,” he continued. “But we had that stretch where it just kind of snowballed on us.”

For the game, Greco led Wilton with five goals, while Eagan finished with three goals and two assists. Julia Bonnist had two goals and Ellie Armstrong, Seymour and Brant each had one goal. Seymour and Erika Bonnist each had an assist.

Brown finished the game with six saves in goal.

Brooke Jackson led Cheshire with four goals and two assists, with other goals by Meghan Dutchyshyn, Mia Pulisciano, Annie Acquavita and Vicki Palmer.

Coach Meyran said the Warriors were looking forward to a rematch with FCIAC rival Darien, which beat Wilton 12-6 during the regular season. The Blue Wave also beat the Warriors in last year’s Class L title game.

“Darien is a familiar opponent. We know what we’re up against and we’re going to have to play our best lacrosse,” she said. “I think this team is really capable of it and we’re in a great place right now, supporting each other. The team dynamic is great, the chemistry is great. So we’re excited to play Tuesday.”

Notes: While she didn’t score, Rebecca Wistreich made her mark on the game with team highs in draw controls (seven) and groundballs (eight), in addition to a caused turnover.

Eagan also had eight groundballs, along with four draw controls and three caused turnovers.

Brant had three draw controls, with one each by Armstrong, Greco and Maddie Duffy.

Duffy also had three groundballs, while Armstrong had two and Seymour, Julia Bonnist, Greco and Zoe Lash had one each.

Lash and Duffy each had a caused turnover.