Wilton boys lax team beats Barlow, 9-4, in state finals (updated)

"Started from the bottom."

That was the phrase the Wilton boys lacrosse coaching staff had written on the lower half of the back of their shirts for Saturday's game against Joel Barlow.

Now, they can get shirts that say, "ended as state champs."

The Warriors completed their stellar state tournament run with a 9-4 victory over second-seed Barlow in the Class M championship game Saturday morning at Brien McMahon in Norwalk.

It was the 22nd state title in program history for the Warriors and the second in the last three years.

Wilton, the 17th seed, dominated Saturday’s game. The Warriors led 5-1 at the half and had a 9-2 lead with under three minutes remaining in the contest.

The Falcons scored two quick goals 19 seconds apart in the fourth to cut the lead to 9-4, but the Warriors sealed the deal with strong defensive play.

The Warriors entered the state tournament with an 8-9 record, but won five straight games to capture the title and finish 13-9.

For the second game in a row, Wilton spotted its opponent a 1-0 lead, as the Falcons began the scoring with a goal with 7:29 in play in the first. Liam Rooney was left wide open in front of the goal and fired it into the back of the net.

However, it would be the only goal for Barlow in the first half. Mike Burns knotted the score at 1-1 with 3:48 left, and Brendan Devane and Ryan Brameier netted goals within 15 seconds of each other to close the first quarter. Devane’s score came as the Warriors showed patience on offense, working the ball around.

Ted Ottens won the ensuing face-off and long-stick midfielder Henry Lee fired a shot on net that Barlow goalie Cooper Brown made a nice save on. Brameier picked up the long rebound and put it in the far corner of the net.

Wilton upped its lead to 5-1 midway through the second quarter on goals by Lee and Devane. Lee’s goal came after he picked up a loose ball put on the turf by Barlow and hammered home a shot. Devane’s second score came when a Wilton player put a hard check on a Falcon player, causing the ball to pop out. Ryder Farmakis picked up the loose ball and sent it to Devane, who was driving to the net for the score.

Barlow got a goal just 20 seconds into the second half to make 5-2. After that goal the Falcons showed renewed life and hope, but the Warriors where there to put down any dreams of a comeback, as Wilton got a score from Dan Baird and a shorthanded goal from Lee, who went coast to coast for the goal and a 7-2 Wilton lead at the end of three.

Neither team scored in the first seven minutes of the final quarter, as the clock was in the Warrior’s favor. Wilton added two more scores on goals by Devane, his third of the game for the hat trick, and Eric Noonan’s man-advantage goal to make it 9-2 with 4:37 to play. Noonan’s goal came just 10 seconds after the Devane score as Ottens won the face-off and sent the ball to an open Noonan for the goal.

“The defense played exceptional and so did CJ (goalie Conor Johnson)," said Wilton head coach John Wiseman. "We got great play by the offense, which helps the overall play of the team. Henry Lee was outstanding from his midfield position; I think he had at least one goal in each state game this year.”

"Coming into the game, from what we saw of them (Barlow), we felt we matched up well against them and we could go one on one with them," added Wiseman. "I give all the credit for the championship to the senior leadership of this team. They came together as a unit, knew what they needed to do, and got the rest of the team on the same page. I don’t know if they held a secret meeting to get it done, but whatever they did it worked."

Johnson made 13 saves, while Ottens won 13-of-17 face-offs.

Rooney had two goals and Brown recorded 16 saves for the Falcons.