Warde rallies late, tops Wilton boys lax team in OT

The storied Wilton High boys lacrosse program had everything riding on Friday night's regular-season finale against Fairfield Warde at Fujitani Field.

Win and the Warriors would qualify for both the FCIAC playoffs and state tournament; lose and it would be the first time in the history of the program that Wilton didn't make states and, most likely, one of the rare times the Warriors didn't make FCIACs.

On the other side of the field, the prize was just as important to Warde. A win for the Mustangs would clinch a state tourney berth and a spot in the eight-team FCIAC playoffs.

In the end, Warde was the team celebrating and Wilton the team hanging its head.

After tying the score with 3.8 seconds to play in regulation, Warde got the game-winner in overtime to emerge with a 9-8 victory.

With 5:21 left in the fourth quarter, Warde's Kyle Scheetz scored a man-up goal to tie the game at 7-7. The Warriors answered exactly one minute later with an unassisted goal by Will Garbus for an 8-7 lead.

Following a nice kick save by Wilton goalie Jameson Hill with under two minutes left, Warde gained possession and started working the ball up the field. The Warde coach, Tom Cunningham, called a time-out, but just as play stopped a Fairfield player started a pushing match with a Wilton player that drew a flag from the referee. After a discussion with Cunningham, the ref picked up the flag, reversing his call to the dismay of the Wilton coaching staff and the home crowd

Warde kept the pressure on the Warrior defense and, with 9.6 seconds left in regulation, Wilton was hit with a penalty. Before play resumed, the Warrior coaching staff also was given a penalty, giving the Mustangs a two-man advantage. Gregory Adams then scored the tying goal to force the overtime.

In overtime, Wilton possessed the ball for the first two minutes. The Warriors thought they had the game winner with 3:10 left when Garbus found the back of the net, but the score did not count as Wilton head coach John Wiseman had called a time-out.

With 1:30 left, Hill again came up with a big save, but with 40 seconds remaining Warde's Brendan King notched his fourth goal of the game to give the Mustangs the win

"Both teams fought hard to come away with the win. We both had a lot on the line tonight,” said Wiseman, whose team ended the regular season with a 6-10 record. “We have to own how we played. Sure, there were things we could have done to win this game and other games, but we didn’t.

"You've got to remember these are high school kids who have played lacrosse in this town for years and they come to the high school with the dream of playing in the conference and state playoffs to win championships and when that doesn’t happen it’s tough on everybody," added Wiseman. "These kids worked hard and gave a huge commitment to the program and now they won't get a chance to live out that dream. I feel bad for them, but I told them that I was proud of them."

The game got off to a slow start with the Warriors scoring first with 3:37 left in the first quarter on a goal by Christan Hansson. Warde tied it at 1-1 to start the second quarter. A Dan Baird goal midway through the period gave Wilton a short-lived 2-1 lead, as the Mustangs answered right back to tie the game at 2-2.

Michael Lynch netted two scores in the span of 42 seconds to give the Warriors a 4-2 lead at halftime. Wilton was having more success scoring when it moved the ball up the field quickly as opposed to setting up its offense

Wilton’s lead grew to 6-2 with 8:21 to play in the third quarter on goals by Harrison Bardwell and Brendan Devane. Warde got one back just 13 seconds later to make the score 6-3. Neither team scored in the final eight minutes of the third quarter.

The teams traded goals early in the fourth quarter. Reid Melillo’s goal with 7:40 to play gave the Warriors a 7-4 lead. But the Mustangs chipped away at the Warrior lead and eventually forced the overtime period.