Girls soccer: Cadets oust Wilton in FCIAC semifinals

The Wilton High girls soccer got off to a slow start, surrendering two early goals less than a minute apart, and couldn’t recover en route to a 3-0 loss to the St. Joseph Cadets on Tuesday night in the semifinal round of the FCIAC playoffs at Kristine Lilly Soccer Field.

The fifth-seeded Warriors’ hopes for a win took a devastating blow even before the opening whistle. Wilton was without the services of starting goalie Taylor Floyd, who is done for the season with a knee injury, leaving junior Covadonga Perez Pelaez to mind the net. Perez Pelaez saw only minimal playing time this season, as Floyd started 16 of the team’s first 17 games this season, leaving her some big shoes to fill against the number-one seeded Cadets.

The Cadets came out and dominated play right from the start and put pressure on the Wilton keeper. In the seventh minute of play, Jessica Mazo sent a direct kick on goal and Perez Pelaez came up with the save. But with the Warriors not mounting any kind of sustained offensive threat, the Cadets kept the ball in the Warriors defensive zone.

In the 12th minute, Mazo redeemed herself with a goal to give St. Joseph a 1-0 lead, as her shot bounced over the Wilton goalie’s head for the score. And then just 46 seconds later, a goal by Alexis Mason made the score 2-0. Mason’s shot seemed to deflect off a player in front of the goal and it found the corner of the net.

“I told my team that the first 20 minutes of the game was going to be important and they should come out hard and ready to play,” said Cadets head coach Jack Nogueira. “After losing in the FCIAC championship game last year, the team wanted another chance at it.”

St. Joseph’s back line did a good job in keeping the Warrior attack at bay, using quick closing speed to pick off passes or close in on the Warrior rushes.

The Warriors came out in the second half with a bit more energy and fight and put the ball on net. Sophomore Lindsay Groves had a chance to cut the Cadets’ lead in the second minute of the second half, but couldn’t get it past the Cadets’ keeper.

“We came out flat in the first half and they took advantage of it and got an early lead,” said Wilton head coach Renato Topalli. “You can’t come out and play only a half of a game and expect to win. They came out in the Westhill came and executed the gameplan, but tonight they didn’t. St. Joe’s out worked us.

He continued, “We had a chance early in the second half and maybe that could have sparked us more but we didn’t get the score. We didn’t match their intensity and didn’t win the one versus one matches. Perez Pelaez had some broad shoulders to fill and she did a good job, but it was tough for her in such a big game with little playing time going into the game. I told the team we now have to focus on looking forward and worry about states.”

With the clock running down, the Warriors continued to battle looking to make something happen. With about eight and a half minutes to play, Groves split the defense and was one-on-one with the Cadets’ keeper, who came out on Groves and saved her shot to preserve the shutout.

The Cadets quickly switched the field after the save and put the game away with a goal with 7:26 left on the clock. Lindsey Savko closed out the score with a goal to put the Cadets in front 3-0.

The Warriors (12-5-1) will next compete in the upcoming Class LL state tournament playoffs that begin next week.