It took the Wilton High boys lacrosse team almost the entire first half before it started to play solid lacrosse at both ends of the field.

But the Warriors took charge late in the first half to get their victory over Fairfield Warde, 18-8, in their season opener on Saturday at Fujitani Field.

Warde hung tough deep into the second quarter, as the game was tied at 6-6 with 4:14 left in the first half. From that point on Wilton went on to outscore the Mustangs 12-2 for the convincing win.

Wilton’s face-off man Chris Sweeney was on fire from the face-off circle in the first half, winning 14 of 17 draws. But the Warriors were quick to turn the ball over on unforced errors and were called for two penalties in the first half. The Mustangs made the best of the Warriors miscues and put the ball in the net.

Sweeney finished 18-for-23 on face-offs in the game.

“We came out slow today, as we needed to knock off the early season rust,” said senior co-captain Joe Murtha. “We were forcing our passes, didn’t do a good job in possessing the ball in the first half, and offensive movement wasn’t in sync. In the second half we got it going and did a much better job with our offensive movement, which created good looks at the net. We have a lot of tough competition early in our season and we’re going to need to come out at the start of those games and play better.”

Murtha got things going for the Warriors with a man-up goal just 26 seconds into the contest, assisted by Connor Drake.

Warde tied the game at 1-1 just a minute later when a Wilton defender couldn’t fight through a pick and Ted Orben scored for Warde.

A Mustangs’ goal by Jack Murphy put his team up 2-1 with 5:34 left to play in the first quarter, but Wilton answered right back with a score by Drake, who picked up a loose ball in front of the Mustangs’ net.

Wilton carried a 4-3 lead into the second period on goals by Drake and Zach Zeyher.

Brian Calabrese opened the scoring the second quarter to put the home team up 5-3, but after both teams traded goals (the Wilton goal score by Murtha), Warde scored twice to tie the game at 6-6.

The Warriors tallied three times in the final 2:08 of the first half for the 9-6 halftime lead. Dean Dinanno scored with 2:08 remaining, Zeyher picked up his second score with 57.7 left on the clock, and Liam Sullivan closed out the first half scoring with 12.1 second left. Zeyher’s goal came as the Warriors played a man up.

Wilton scored first again in the third quarter to up the lead to 10-6. The Warriors quickly transitioned the ball from defense to offense, with Alex Acosta-Rua feeding Calabrese for the score.

Wilton outscored the Mustangs 4-1 in the third period to take a 13-7 lead into the final period. Calabrese netted two more goals in the third, giving him four in the game, along with two assists, and Dinanno scored again.

The Warriors scored five unanswered goals in the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter for the commanding 18-7 lead. The Mustangs picked up a man-advantage goal late in the period for the 18-8 final.

Murtha added two fourth-quarter goals, giving him four total in the game, Nolan Quinn scored, and Dinanno and Zeyher both picked up their third goals of the game each. Murtha’s final goal was an over-the-shoulder backhanded goal off a feed from Drake, who had two goals and three assists in the game.

“Warde came to play and showed you have to be at your best in this league at all times. They were at their best early on, their goalie made some big saves on us and kept them in the game” commented Wilton head coach John Wiseman. “It’s early in the season and we still have things we need to work on. We need to keep working at both ends of the field and grow as a team. We have very competitive games early on in the season, but we have to take them one game at a time.”