Girls lacrosse: Wilton holds off Brookfield to reach state semis

The Wilton High girls lacrosse team is in the state semifinals for the 14th time in 16 years, after the Warriors used a dominating second-half performance to pull away from sixth-seeded Brookfield and post a 11-7 win in the Class M quarterfinals on Thursday at Kristine Lilly Field.

The third-seeded Warriors improved to 17-4 and will take on seventh-seeded New Fairfield (14-6) next Tuesday, at a time and location still to be determined.

The Bobcats (13-5-1) went toe-to-toe with the favored Warriors in the first half, jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead, and were up 6-5 with four minutes left in the first half. Wilton snapped a 6-6 halftime tie by controlling the ball, and the game, in the second half.

“We knew it was going to be a hard game coming in,” said senior tri-captain Annie Cornbrooks. “We all came together at halftime. This is the seniors’ last game on this turf and we had to defend our home field, so we just kind of came out with fire.”

A combination of Brookfield turnovers and patience by the Warriors on offense helped kill the Bobcats’ upset hopes in the second half. The Warriors possessed the ball for about 90% of the time in the final 25 minutes and outscored the Bobcats 3-0 to open the half and go up 9-6.

Brookfield didn’t get a shot off until more than 17 minutes had expired. The Warriors had 12 shots on goal to Brookfield’s two in the second half.

“We weren’t taking care of the ball in the first half. We weren’t make good decisions, and we just focused on that at halftime,” said Wilton head coach Meredith Meyran. “We knew we had to get back to playing Wilton lacrosse and being able to control the game.”

Meyran said she expected the kind of back-and-forth game that marked the first half.

“We knew it was going to be a battle. Brookfield is talented, and one of the most athletic teams we’ve faced the entire season,” she said. “They’re fast and well coached, and we were not looking past them.”

“We knew they were going to be really aggressive,” Cornbrooks said of Brookfield. “I was really impressed with their team. They came out, they hustled to every 50/50 ball, they played their hearts out — and you have to admire a team with heart like that.”

Brookfield got an outstanding game from freshman goaltender Teja Gallop, who made 11 saves — including seven in the second half to keep the Bobcats in the game.

Brooks Sands put Brookfield up 1-0 just 1:09 into the game, and Emily Stoeppel scored to make it 2-0 at 21:50.

Char Noels got Wilton on the board at 20:20, but after the Warriors twice put shots off the pipe, the Bobcats made it 3-1 at 17:09 on another goal by Sands.

Wilton cut the lead to 3-2 at 15:57 when Casey Tucker ran the ball nearly the length of the field, setting up a Shannon Quinlan goal (off an assist by Sara Dickinson).

Noels tied the game at 12:26 off a great behind-the-cage feed from Cornbrooks, and Laura Knapp gave Wilton its first lead, 4-3, when took a little flip pass from Dickinson and cut into the crease to score.

Jillian Fisher answered for the Bobcats at 9:37 to tie the game up again, and Makenna Pearsall tallied for Wilton at 6:16 to make it 5-4.

Sands scored her third goal of the first half just 29 seconds later, after picking up a loose ball in front and converting to make it 5-5, and Kaia Gallop came from behind the net and rolled into the crease to score, putting Brookfield up 6-5 with 4:02 to go in the half.

Kaia Gallop nearly scored on an identical play three minutes later, but was stopped on a save by Hannah Wiltshire, and Cornbrooks then scored for Wilton to make it 6-6 with 57 seconds in the half. Teja Gallop robbed Dickinson on a free-position shot late in the half to preserve the 6-6 tie at halftime.

The Bobcats won the draw control to open the second half, but quickly lost it after an interception by Quinlan. After Teja Gallop made two more tough saves, Wilton broke the tie at 22:03 when Knapp scored in front off a pass from Dickinson. Noels then fired in a shot on a free position to make it 8-6 at 19:49.

Despite six turnovers, almost zero possession time, and a 12-0 Wilton advantage in shots in the first 15 minutes of the half, the Bobcats were still down by only two goals with 10 minutes left, thanks to seven saves in goal by Gallop.

After Pearsall’s goal (off a Cornbrooks’ feed) with 9:46 left extended Wilton’s lead to 9-6, Tori Weinstock answered for Brookfield with 7:41 left — the Bobcats’ first shot of the half. But the Warriors responded about a minute later when Noels rocketed a shot inside the post on a free position, and Quinlan’s free-position goal 29 seconds later put Wilton up 11-7 with 5:42 left to play. The Warriors were able to run out most of the reaming time to seal the win.

Possession time, or lack of it, proved to be the big difference in the second half.

“Our attack is really big on possessing. We don’t go for the first option, we go for the best option,” said Cornbrooks. “So as long as we possess the ball and play our game, we’re good.”

Notes: Noels led the Wilton scoring with four goals, with two each by Knapp, Pearsall and Quinlan, and one by Cornbrooks.

Cornbrooks and Dickinson had two assists each, and Knapp had one assist.

Wiltshire finished with four saves in goal.

The Warriors had a 22-11 edge in shots on goal, and 29-12 in total shots.

Pearsall won five draw controls and Parsons won four, with one each by Knapp, Tucker and Emmie Arrix.

Pearsall and Cornbrooks each had three groundballs, while Parsons and Tucker had two each, with one each by Maeve Kennard, Knapp and Dickinson.

Cornbrooks, Pearsall, Quinlan, Noels, Cecily Freilich and Kennard each had a caused turnover.