Girls soccer: Late goals send Wilton to 2-0 win in opener
Senior Paisley Eagan returned to the Wilton girls soccer team lineup and picked up where she left off, finding the back of the net with 12:04 left in the game to break a scoreless tie in the team’s season opener against the Westhill Vikings on Friday afternoon at Kristine Lilly Field.
Freshman Ashley Carbonier, making her varsity debut, added a goal in the 72nd minute, to give the Warriors a 2-0 win. Carbonier’s score came as she put back a rebound that the Westhill goalie couldn’t corral.
Eagan, who led Wilton in scoring in her sophomore year before attending a private school in her junior year, was the benefactor of on-the-mark passes from her teammates
“They made it pretty easy for me,” said Eagan. “The defense did a great job in clearing the ball out of our end of the field and made a long on-the-mark pass through midfield. Another long pass gave me the ball on the wing and I wide open and saw the opening in the far corner and put it past the goalie.”
Eagan, when asked what is different with this year’s squad as compared to her first go-round, said, “We have a strong starting lineup and a lot of depth on our bench. The coaches have us running several set plays and we have the offensive strength to execute them. Having more than one scoring option helps open up our offense and makes it difficult for the other team to mark just one player.”
Wilton took the opening face-off and went right into attack mode. Lindsey Groves was peppering the Viking goalie in the first half as she sent five shots toward the net, but couldn’t get one past Niamh Keough, the Viking goalie. Keough came off the goal line several times to keep Groves from scoring. She also got help from the side post as one on Grove’s shot attempt rang off it. Eagan and Freshman Elizabeth Connolly also had quality shots on net, but they too came away empty.
Wilton controlled the offensive play in the first half, with Westhill’s only scoring chance coming off a corner kick midway through the half, but no one could get a foot on it in front of the box. The game was tied at 0-0 at halftime.
“We had our chances to get out early on them, but we just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities,” said Wilton head coach Renato Topalli. “Our back line, led by Chloe Zimmerman, played solid the entire game and gave great support to Taylor Floyd in net.”
“We’re dealing several key player injuries and we have a tough first-half schedule, so it was great for us to get a win today. I feel that when we are 100% healthy we can compete with anyone in this league.”
Topalli added that the fact that his team couldn’t get a score in the first half gave their opponent hope.
That’s just what happened. The Vikings came out in the second half and put forth several quality runs up the field in the first 10 minutes of the period and had several shots on goal. Corrine Dente, who was able to weave her way through the Wilton midfield on numerous occasions, perfectly set up her teammate, but she was called for being off-sides. Although Westhill suffered the loss, Westhill head coach Dave Flower was pleased with his team’s effort.
“We have a mix of some new and experienced players and we have different type of lineup, so we’re running a different style than in past years and it takes time to develop it. The team play well. We just ran out of steam late in the game and that hurt us.”
The Warriors did battle with Westhill three times last season. Wilton lost to the Vikings in their regular-season match and beat them in the FCIAC playoffs and in the state tournament, both decided by penalty kicks.
“Yeah, I had some pre-game jitters knowing that each of last year’s games were battles,” said senior midfielder Zoe Lash. “We were confident in our play. We have a tough schedule to start the season and it’s important that we win our home games.”