Girls lacrosse: Wilton rallies to advance to FCIAC semifinals
The Wilton High girls lacrosse team closed out the final 13 minutes of the game with a 6-0 run to rally for a 12-10 win over Staples on Friday, in the FCIAC quarterfinals in Westport.
The fifth-seeded Warriors advance to play top-seeded Darien next Tuesday in New Canaan.
Down 9-5 at halftime, the Warriors out-scored the fourth-seeded Wreckers 7-1 in the second half.
Staples had taken a 10-6 lead with 14:33 left when Paige Murray scored her fifth goal of the game.
Wilton answered about a minute later when Makenna Pearsall scored on a free position.
The game turned on a sequence that saw Wilton score three goals in 24 seconds.
After a Staples turnover, Paisley Eagan picked up the loose ball in midfield, ran it down and made a pass over the defense to fellow freshman Eva Greco, who scored to make it 10-8 with 11:06 left.
Greco scored again just nine second later, winning the draw control ball and taking it right to the goal to make it 10-9.
Laine Parsons came up with the ensuing draw control and wound up passing to Pearsall for the game-tying goal with 10:42 left.
Over the next five minutes, both teams had chances to take the lead. Olivia Phelan made a big save for Wilton, while the Warriors had a point-blank shot go just wide.
Finally, with 5:51 left, Wilton took the lead at 11-10 on a goal by Parsons.
After Phelan made another big save, this time on a free-position shot, the Warriors went up 12-10 when Lilla Seymour charged to the net from the side, drew a defender, and passed to a wide-open Greco, who scored her third goal in seven minutes to make it 12-10 with 4:09 left.
Staples came right back, but one shot hit the crossbar and another was stopped by Phelan with 2:50 to go. Parsons came up with the groundball, and the Warriors were able to hold the ball and run out the clock.
“We made some personnel changes and we made some adjustments to our game plan, and boy, did they go out and execute in the second half. They really turned it around for us,” said Head Coach Meredith Meyran of the team defense. “And I’m also really proud of my goalie for not getting down and just keep on keeping on. She did a great job.”
Phelan finished with 11 saves in goal.
“I’m so proud of her. She is a player who is always focused at practice and gets better every day, and the fact that we can rely on her in these big-game situations is really a true testament to her character and what a hard worker she is,” said Meyran.
Pearsall led Wilton with four goals, while Greco and Parsons each scored three goals. Eagan and Rebecca Wistreich also scored.
Eagan, Parson and Seymour each had one assist.
The first half saw the teams trade blows, with both goalies — Phelan and Staples’ Emma Boland — coming up with key saves.
When Pearsall scored on a free position with 6:50 left in the half, the game was tied at 5-5 — the fourth tie of the half.
But the Wreckers, behind the face-off prowess of Jenna McNicholas, ended the first half with a 4-0 run. Murray scored with 3:40 left to break the tie, and scored again with 1:35 left on a free position.
Christine Taylor made it 8-5 with seven seconds left in the half, and Staples won the draw and the ball wound up in the stick of Murray, who scored with less than a second left to make it 9-5 at halftime.
The Warriors stumbled early in the second half, with a pair of turnovers, but finally got rolling with 19:17 left when Pearsall scored to make it 9-6.
The Staples defense continued to shut down the Warriors, particularly Sara Dickinson, who had scored five goals in Wilton’s 9-7 win over the Wreckers during the season.
When two Wreckers were sent off with yellow cards in a span of 29 seconds, the Warriors had a two-player advantage for more than 90 seconds, but couldn’t score. Dickinson’s goal with 16:25 left was waived off on a charging call.
Despite the frustration, the Warriors kept playing hard, especially on the defensive end.
“We talk about that all the time practice, staying resilient and focusing on the things we can control, and sticking to the game plan and making sure we're executing on the small things, the fundamentals. And that’s what really hurt us in the beginning. We turned it around and I’m just very happy with the way we came back,” said Meyran. “Staples was shutting off Sara. We had trouble getting Sara the ball. They were doing a great job defensively on Makenna and Laine, and who stepped up? Number 21, Paisley Eagan, and number 29, Eva Greco, both freshman, and that is awesome that those kids weren’t afraid to go after it and make something happen for their team.”
For the game, Eagan had four groundballs, three draw controls and two caused turnovers.
In addition to Murray’s five goals, Staples got two goals from Colleen Bannon and one goal each by Taylor, McNicholas and Olivia Troy.
Boland finished with four saves in goal.
“This game was emotionally changed the whole time. We got so much better today having to fight through that,” said Meyran. “Jenna McNicholas is so good on the draw. I would say three quarters of the game we couldn’t get it out of her stick. We just stuck with it and kept trying new things, and we weren’t afraid to try new things, and I think that was the difference.”
Notes: Greco had three draw controls, three groundballs and one caused turnovers, while Parsons had three groundballs, two caused turnovers and one draw control, and Pearsall two groundballs, one draw control and one caused turnover.
Casey Tucker had one draw control and one caused turnover, and Seymour and Mel Boehme each had one groundball.
Wistreich and Cecily Freliech each had one caused turnover.