New Canaan scores late goal to edge Wilton

Wilton's Dean DiNanno fires a shot during the FCIAC boys lacrosse championship game. — Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media
Wilton's Dean DiNanno fires a shot during the FCIAC boys lacrosse championship game. — Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

Liam Griffiths' goal with 1:03 left in the fourth quarter gave New Canaan a 9-8 victory over the Wilton High boys lacrosse team Tuesday night at Dunning Field in New Canaan.

It was the third straight one-goal loss for Wilton, following a pair of 7-6 overtime setbacks to Greenwich and John Jay (N.Y.).

“I knew going into the season with the schedule that we set up, it was going to be a gauntlet,” Wilton head coach Steve Pearsall said. “We have four more tough ones in a row, but hopefully they’ll prepare us for the second half of the season and the playoffs.

“I feel good about the effort,” added Pearsall, whose team is now 1-3 this season. “I think we grew as a team today; we’ve got a lot of young players out there, and some guys who haven’t had a ton of experience stepped up and showed they can play at this level.”

The score was tied at the end of the first three quarters — 3-3 after one, 5-5 at halftime, and 7-7 after three. The biggest lead was two goals when New Canaan went ahead 5-3 in the second quarter, but the Warriors raced back to take a one-goal lead twice in the third period.

The winning goal came at the end of a sustained possession for the Rams, with Quintin O’Connell battling Wilton defenseman Ryan Schriber to try and get in position for a shot. With nothing open, O’Connell was able to get a pass off to Drew Guida on the far side, and Guida fed it back in front to Griffiths for the winning goal.

“Ryan Schriber is one of the best defensemen in the country,” O’Connell said. “It was tight. They were sliding early and I was just trying to get the ball out of my stick and then Guida found the one more [pass] inside to Griffiths. Griffiths is as good a finisher as you’ll find, so once the ball’s in his stick we were confident.”

The Warriors had possession in the final minute but were unable to get a clean look at the goal. A final shot by Reilly Sullivan was clipped by New Canaan long pole Jack Finnigan as the clock ran out.

“We were looking for our No. 1 attackman, (Dean) DiNanno, to come off a pick,” Pearsall said. “He didn’t have it, so we were going to try and get a step down from one of our big middies. He (Sullivan) took the shot, just got blocked in front ... they picked it up and that was it.”

Both goalies were on point, as Wilton’s Andrew Calabrese made 20 saves and New Canaan’s Carl Mazabras had 15 stops.

DiNanno had three goals and one assist for Wilton, with Jack Savarese adding two goals, and Sullivan, Andrew Luciano and Ryan Kauffman each scoring once.

“That was a great opponent — nothing but respect for them,” O’’Connell said about Wilton. “But we’re proud of each other and we’re confident in each other and that’s all you can ask for in a team.”