Girls soccer: Warriors blank Rams in finale; open FCIACs Friday

The Wilton High girls soccer team wrapped up the regular season with a 2-0 shutout win over the New Canaan Rams on Tuesday at Kristine Lilly Soccer Field.

The Warriors finished the season with an impressive 11-4-1 record and are the fifth seed in the upcoming FCIAC playoffs, which begin Friday with a quarterfinal match at fourth-seeded Westhill in Stamford. The Vikings defeated Wilton 7-1 in their season-opening game.

Coming into Tuesday's game, the Rams needed a win to keep their FCIAC playoff hopes alive, while the Warriors’ seed would be the same regardless of the outcome.

Wilton head coach Renato Topalli’s objective for the game was to hopefully get an early lead so he could rest his starters, get through the game without any injuries, and just play overall good soccer.

He was able to check all three boxes as the team achieved what the coach was looking for.

“We wanted to get the early lead to take some pressure off ourselves so that we wouldn’t force anything and maybe risk an injury,” said Topalli. “We gave all of our starters some rest today, as we need to be ready for the playoffs. From here on in, we have to treat each game like a championship match and give it our best. We have two days of rest before Friday’s game. They (Westhill) beat us pretty good in the beginning of the season and the team wanted to chance to redeem themselves. Our team has come a long way since that loss and Friday’s match will come down to who wants it more.”

On Tuesday, New Canaan took the opening face-off, but mishandled a back pass and Wilton put a shot on net in the first 30 seconds of the game that was saved by the Rams keeper.

Junior Andrea Benalcazar got behind the Rams defense deep into their zone and found herself one-on-one with goalie, who came out to defend Benalcazar and left the far corner wide open. Benalcazar tucked into the corner for the 1-0 Wilton lead in the fourth minute of the game.

“The ball was played to my feet and I was looking down to decide what foot I was going to take my shot attempt with, so at first I wasn’t focusing on the goalie. When I did look up, I saw the open far corner and just put it there,” said Benalcazar.

“We are looking forward to Friday’s rematch with Westhill. In that first game things just didn’t click for us. Our team has come a long way since that game and we’ve been waiting for our second chance at them,” she continued. “We have great team chemistry and I feel we are all on the same page trying to achieve the same goal. We need to be physically and mentally ready for Friday’s game.”

In the 25th minute, Benalcazar assisted sophomore Lindsay Groves on the team’s second score, upping the lead to 2-0. Benalcazar played a long through ball to Groves in the middle of the field. Groves used her speed to blow by the two Ram defenders and was in alone with the Rams’ goalie. Again the New Canaan keeper looked to overplay Groves, leaving the far corner wide open, and Groves sent her shot into that corner for the score.

With the Rams down 2-0, they put good pressure on for a good part of the second half. But Wilton goalie Taylor Floyd stopped everything the Rams kicked at her, as she turned in another solid performance. Floyd did let a shot squirt through her hands, but she got some help from her friend the post to bring in the shot.

Floyd came out late in the game with an equipment issue, leaving Covadonga Perez Pelaez the duty in net to preserve the shutout.