Girls soccer: New Canaan ousts Wilton in state quarterfinals

Going into Friday's Class LL state tournament quarterfinal game, the Wilton High girls soccer team appeared to have the advantage. The Warriors were playing a familiar foe, conference rival New Canaan, and the game was at Wilton's home field.

But coming off a dramatic 3-2 win in double overtime over Newington two days earlier, the 15th-seeded Warriors were unable to keep the mojo going.

New Canaan, the 27th seed, scored the game's only goal in the first half to beat Wilton, 1-0, and end the Warriors' season.

Wilton (12-8-1) had the first legitimate scoring chance in the sixth minute. Andrea Benalcazar played a perfectly placed ball to Rebecca Hersch for a breakaway chance. But the Rams' keeper, Katie Donovan, was in the right position for the save on Hersch.

The Warriors had a second chance in the 12th minute, when several players had crack at a score but came away empty.

Eight minutes later, New Canaan scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal. Sophomore Julia Ozimek spotted an open Samantha Stewart and sent a pass to the left side. Stewart then took a shot that tucked just inside the post, past diving Wilton goalie Hana Previte.

In the 63rd minute the Rams looked to increase their lead with a flurry of action in the Wilton box. But Previte was there to keep the score at 1-0.

In the 69th minute, the Warriors tried for the equalizer. Julia Vitarelli sent a crossing pass to Benalcazar, but the latter's shot sailed high.

Throughout the game, the New Canaan players showed good closing speed to derail the Wilton attack. The Rams also did a god job in taking the ball off the feet of the Warriors and sending the ball in the opposite direction.

"We knew we had to get out in front of them today, but we didn’t," said Wilton first-year head coach Freya Coombe. “Once they get a lead they drop back and protect their lead and that made it hard on us. We had our chances, but we didn’t finish on them. The girls worked hard and gave it a great effort.”

Coombe also took some time to reflect on the season.

“We achieved all our goals that we set before the season started," she said. "The girls on the team have done the school and the coaching staff proud. They came a long way from the beginning of the season. They had to deal with on-the-field and off-the-field issues and they handled it all very well.

"We have a lot of young players on this team that we can build on with for the future," added Coombe. "The seniors that are on the team showed great leadership and I wish them well."

Notes: New Canaan will now play another FCIAC team, sixth-seed Ridgefield, in the semifinals on Monday at 7 at Fairfield Ludlowe.