Girls lacrosse: Warriors fire on all cylinders to beat Cheshire, advance to semifinals

Losing their draw specialist right before Thursday’s Class L quarterfinal game in Cheshire was a tough blow, but the Wilton High girls lacrosse team handled the adversity as they have all season — as a team.

With three players taking turns at draws, the Warriors produced another solid performance on both ends of the field to roll to a 16-8 win and a berth in next Tuesday’s state semifinals.

The 11th-seeded Warriors (12-6) will take on second-seeded Greenwich (16-3) on Tuesday, at a time and location to be announced. The Cardinals defeated Staples on Thursday, 14-9.

Wilton edged Greenwich, 8-7, when the two teams met on April 13.

“It feels great,” said head coach Meredith Meyran. “We’re going to be seeing a familiar opponent. We’re excited that we have the opportunity to keep playing. It’s the state semifinals and everybody’s going to be bringing their best game and we’ve got to do what we do best.”

The Warriors this season had already lost all-American attacker Eva Greco and starting defender Carly Lattimer. Sophomore midfielder Julia Skillin, who handles draws for Wilton, strained a hip muscle in practice this week, and after trying to warm up on Thursday was unable to play.

Using a rotation of Sydney Brant, Rebecca Wistreich and Sophie Sudano, the Warriors managed to hold their own on the draws, although Cheshire would up winning 16 of 26 draw controls.

Wilton also moved Sudano from midfield to attack, and Carly Sullivan from defense to midfield, with Delia Freleich taking Sullivan’s spot on defense.

“We had to make adjustments. The people we put in there were able to step up, and that’s what we needed them to do,” said coach Meyran. “We’re a team, from top to bottom and end to end, and the girls feed off that and they love that.”

Wistreich led the scoring with five goals while Sudano tallied four goals and Ellie Armstrong had two goals and two assists. Brant also scored two goals, with other goals by Margaret Smith  and Julia Bonnist.

Third-seeded Cheshire (15-5) was led by two goals each from Annie Eddy and Annie Acquavita, and single goals by Vicki Palmer, Mia Pulisciano, Kaitlyn D’Andrea and Mikayla Crowley.

Wilton had a 9-3 lead going into halftime, in what was a frustrating first half for the Rams, who actually had more scoring chances that the Warriors — including 10 free position opportunities in the half. But a combination of eight saves by Wilton goalie Paige Brown, and five or six other shots that were off target, Cheshire only got the ball into the cage three times.

Wilton had the initial 2-0 lead on a pair of goals by Sudano, before Cheshire rallied to tie things up on goals by Acquavita and Crowley, making it 2-2 with 13:27 left in the first half.

Sudano scored two more times in less than two minutes, the second goal after she burst through two defenders for a run to the goal, making it 4-2 with 11:06 left in the half.

The Warriors extended their run to 5-0 with goals by Bonnist at 9:45, Wistreich at 8:14 and Smith at 4:24, taking a 7-2 lead.

After D’Andrea scoring for Cheshire, Armstrong maneuvered her way into the crease to score with 3:12 left in the half to make it an 8-3 game. In the final minutes, Brown came up with three more big saves to deny the Rams, and Wilton made it 9-3 with one second left in the half when Wistreich split a double team to get in front and score.

Acquavita scored just 46 seconds into the second half for Cheshire, but two goals by Brant extended Wilton’s lead to 11-4 with 19:47 left to play. The teams then traded goals, until a 3-0 run by Wilton gave the Warriors their biggest lead yet, 15-6, with 9:22 left.

It was the second playoff game in a row that the Wilton defense — Ally DiSanto, Emmy Goodwin, Zoe Lash and Freliech, along with Wistreich, Brant and Sullivan — held on opponent to under 10 goals.

Brown had another outstanding game in goal, with 13 saves. For the game, Cheshire had 15 free-position opportunities.

“We gave up a lot of free positions today but we were able to recover from them. Paige played great and our whole defensive unit really stepped up  and we were able to make blocks in there when we needed them,” said Meyran. “We made great choices at attack, and we made sure we were shooting  balls that were going to go in, not just shooting to take the shot. I was really proud of their decision-making and composure on the field.”

Carolynn Pechmann had six saves in goal for Cheshire.

Notes:  Wistreich led the Warriors with six draw controls and three groundballs, and also had one interception and one caused turnover. Brant had two draw controls and two groundballs, and Freliech and Sudano each had one draw control.

Goodwin had one interception and one caused turnover, and Armstrong, Bonnist, Freleich and Lash had one groundball each.