Wilton boys lax advances to state semifinals (updated)

The Wilton High boys lacrosse team advanced to the state semifinals — and another meeting with conference rival New Canaan — by defeating New Fairfield, 11-5, in a Class M quarterfinal game Saturday in New Fairfield.

The 19th-seeded Warriors (10-9) will now try to get their first win this season over second-seed New Canaan when the teams play Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk. The Rams handily beat Wilton, 14-3, in the regular season and then edged the Warriors, 10-9, in the FCIAC quarterfinals.

"We wanted to get our third shot at New Canaan,” said senior Michael Lynch after the victory over 11th-seed New Fairfield. “Going into the state playoffs with a low seed kind of gives us a chip on our shoulder to prove we’re much better than our ranking.

"We have a tough regular-season schedule, which helps us prepare for states," added Lynch. "We know as long as we play good enough in the regular season to qualify we have a chance to win it."

After both teams turned the ball over on their first possessions, the Warriors broke through with a goal after a New Fairfield mental error. The Rebels were flagged for an offsides call and Wilton quickly moved the ball up the field and caught the hosts in transition, as Lynch’s pass found Harrison Koch, who scored with 7:56 to play in the opening period.

With 6:28 left in the first, Charlie McGovern fed Lynch with a pass from behind the net for a 2-0 lead. Exactly a minute later Harrison Koch netted his second goal, assisted by Lynch, upping the Warrior lead to 3-0. Koch’s second goal was set up by the midfield play of Harrison Bardwell. Bardwell checked the ball away from his man, picked up the ground ball, and passed to Lynch.

McGovern’s two goals made it 5-0, Wilton, at the end of one period. McGovern bounced his first goal into the net, assisted by Peter Koch. Christan Hansson assisted on McGovern's second goal.

New Fairfield got on the board with 8:43 to play in the second quarter to make it 5-1, as Ryan Lewis scored his first of three goals. The Warriors answered right back with a goal by Luke Rizzo, who went top shelf with his shot, assisted by Lynch, just 27 seconds later for a 6-1 advantage going into halftime.

Wilton owned the time of possession in the first half, as the Warriors face-off specialist, RJ Romeo, won seven-of-nine draws.Romeo kept up the yeomen-like work in the second half, finishing the game 17 for 20 from the face-off circle.

McGovern opened the scoring in the second half just 38 seconds into the third period for his hat trick, assisted by, who else, Lynch. McGovern took his shot from a tough angle, by the side of the net, but was able to get it by the Rebels goalie.

Lewis scored for New Fairfield off a Wilton turnover to make it 7-2 with 10:07 left in the third. Lynch restored the six-goal lead for the Warriors with 8:28 left, assisted by Harrison Koch.

Bardwell’s goal with 5:34 remaining in the third made it 9-2 in favor of the Warriors before New Fairfield's Michael Clark stepped in front of a Warrior pass at midfield and quickly got the ball to Lewis for a score with 1:39 to play in the period.

Harrison Koch then gave the Warriors a 10-3 lead going into the final quarter, as he scored later in the third period for his hat trick.

New Fairfield scored two goals early in the fourth quarter to close within 10-5, but Wilton’s Lynch capped his huge offensive game with a goal with 3:54 to play. Lynch finished the contest with three goals and five assists.

Wilton got solid play from its defense and goalie. Jameson Hill was between the pipes for Wilton and picked up six saves, as the defense limited the number of shots. Hill did keep the Rebels' Lewis from getting a fourth goal, as Hill denied his shot at the doorstep. The Wilton defense also killed off two penalties in the game.

“Sure, I was a little disappointed that they scored several goals in the second half, but they’re a good team and I knew that they wouldn’t quit,” said Wilton head coach John Wiseman.“We wanted a rematch against New Canaan and it should be another battle between the two teams. We’re going to just come out and play our game and do it for 48 minutes if we want to play for the championship.

“Yeah, we had times in today’s game when we weren’t at our best, but you have to remember these are high school kids," added Wiseman. "Sometimes they check in and then they check out. As coaches we have to be psychologists some times in addition to coaching these kids."