Girls lacrosse: Warriors look for new players to step up

Having graduated six starters, including the entire midfield line, the Wilton High girls lacrosse team will be looking for new talent to step up when it opens the season on Saturday.

The Warriors do return seven players who helped key last year’s run to the Class L state championship game, and have the experience and talent to make another run. Wilton has reached the state finals the last four seasons, and nine times in the past 12 years.

“I expect that the younger kids will step up considerably into leading roles. They all gained a lot of experience last year and know what it takes. The senior leadership of this group has been fantastic,” said head coach Meredith Meyran.

The Warriors begin the season on Saturday morning at 11 when they host state power Glastonbury. Last year, Wilton knocked off the top-seeded Tomahawks in the Class L quarterfinals.

This year’s team is led by senior captains Maddie Duffy, Lilla Seymour, Campbell Gulbin and Ella Mannix.

Wilton must replace five players who were at the center of the team’s success the last three years — midfielders Makenna Pearsall, Laine Parsons and Cecily Freilich, attacker Sara Dickinson, and defender Casey Tucker. Pearsall was a two-time all-American, and all five were all-state and first-team all-FCIAC selections last season.

Pearsall, Dickinson and Parsons were the team’s top three scorers last season, accounting for about two-thirds of Wilton’s scoring.

Despite graduating Pearsall, Parsons and Freilich, Meyran said, the Warriors will be very strong in the midfield with four returning players in juniors Rebecca Wistreich and Sydney Brant, and sophomores Paisley Eagan and Zoe Lash.

The sharp-shooting Wistreich is a returning starter (at attack) and honorable mention all-FCIAC pick, finishing fifth on the team in goals last year. She had a team-high three goals in Wilton’s 14-10 loss to Darien in the Class L state finals.

Eagan made an immediate impact last season as a ninth grader on the defensive end and in the midfield. She moves to the midfield line and will again be one of the team’s most active, athletic players. Brant saw significant playing time last season, with three goals.

Meyran said freshmen Julia Skillen and Carly Sullivan will also contribute at midfield.

The attack line has returning starters in Seymour and Eva Greco, who finished fourth on the team in goals scored. Seymour came up big in Wilton’s win over top-seeded Glastonbury in the state quarterfinals last year, with a team-high three goals. Greco was an impact player as a freshman, and keyed the team’s second-half comeback win over Staples in the FCIAC quarterfinals.

The Warriors have several other returning players who will contribute on the attack line in senior Haley Howard, juniors Erika Bonnist, Ellie Armstrong and Margaret Smith, and sophomore Julia Bonnist.

Wilton expects to be solid defensively. Despite losing Tucker and Mel Boehme (all-FCIAC honorable mention), the Warriors return one starter in Duffy and another key contributor in Gulbin, along with returning varsity player Mannix. Other returning defenders who will see time include junior Ally DiSanto and sophomore Carly Lattimer.

“We have a veteran defense — three of our four captains are starting defenders — and three very strong goalies competing for the starting spot,” said Meyran.

The goalies are senior Olivia Phelan, last year’s starter who came on strong down the stretch; sophomore Paige Brown, who saw considerable time in goal, as well, last year; and freshman Bridgette Wall.

The defense also returns senior Lauren White and juniors Sarah Hinck and Liv Nickel. Newcomers are junior Lizzie Kennard and sophomore Emmy Goodwin.

In the midfield, the Warriors also have several newcomers in juniors Jillian Lynch and Erica Smith, and sophomore Olivia Roman.

One question mark entering the season is winning face-offs. Last year’s run to the state finals was keyed by Pearsall’s dominance on draws, and the Warriors also graduated their other top face-off taker in Parsons.

Again, it will be a matter of what returning or new players step up and fill that important role.

“The draw team will be a mix of players, but it looks like Eva Greco, Paisley Eagan, Sydney Brant, and Julia Skillin will all have roles in and on the draw circle,” said Meyran.

Notes: Wilton finished last season with a 14-7 record. The Warriors lost to Darien in both the FCIAC semifinals and Class L state finals.