Wilton boys lax team tops Darien in states (updated)
After already losing twice to Darien this season, the Wilton High boys lacrosse team faced the prospect of a third defeat and an end to the season staring them in the face.
Instead, the Warriors stared right back, and with a menacing look.
Wilton opened a three-goal halftime lead and then hung on for a 7-6 victory over host Darien in a Class M state tournament quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon.
The 17th-seeded Warriors (11-9) will now play fifth-seed New Fairfield in the semifinals on Wednesday at 7:15 at Fairfield Ludlowe.
On Saturday, Wilton came out fired up, focused, and ready to play, and put together its best team effort of the season at both ends of the field.
“Give credit to the senior leadership on the team for getting the win today," said Wilton head coach John Wiseman. "We got outstanding play in net by Conor Johnson and the defense played its best game all year in support of Conor. The team knew what they had to do and they went out and did it.
“We got up on them early, which was important," added Wiseman. "They (the Blue Wave) are not used to playing from behind, which caused them to push harder."
Johnson came up big all game long in goal for Wilton, as he stopped 17 shots, many from close range that were tracking to the back of the net.
“I told myself if we wanted to win, I would have to come up big in goal to help my team," said Johnson. "I wasn’t ready for the season and my career to end. Having the offense possess the ball a lot gave me and the defense a chance to rest. It was huge to finally beat Darien.”
In a game in which Wilton never trailed, the Blue Wave almost forced overtime when the Warriors were hit with a 30-second penalty with 1:01 left to play and clinging to a 7-6 lead. But Wilton killed off the penalty and gained possession of the ball with 39.5 seconds left.
The Warriors turned the ball over with 16.5 ticks left on the clock, and Darien fired off several desperation shots, none of which were on net, as the Warriors escaped with the win.
Wilton got first-period goals from Luke Reyes-Guerra-Dunn and Ryder Farmakis for a 2-0 lead midway through the period. Reyes-Guerra-Dunn's score came when he went left and got a step on his man and put a shot in the far corner of the net. Farmakis picked up a ground ball in front of the net that several players were battling for and beat Darien’s keeper for his goal.
Darien got one goal back with 31 seconds remaining in the period on a man-advantage goal and then knotted the score at 2-2 with 8:05 to play in the half. Wilton answered 25 seconds later to regain a 3-2 lead on a score by Ryan Brameier. Brameier was left free to attack the net from the right for the open shot.
Brendan Devane picked up his first goal of the game and Brameier his second to close the period, with Wilton on top 5-2.
Darien outscored Wilton, 2-1, in the third period, closing the lead to two 6-4 going into the final 12 minutes. Devane gave Wilton a 7-4 lead to open the final quarter with his third goal of the game.
But Darien fought back on goals with 4:24 and 2:23 to play, pulling within 7-6. Wilton’s defensive line, anchored by co-captains Nick Wells and Mike LaSala and Sean Roberts, then held its ground for the victory. Midfielders Henry Lee and Max Maudsley were excellent in support of their back line.
The Wilton defense, which has come under fire in many of the team’s losses this year, was up to the challenge. It kept Darien out of the middle and shadowed anyone moving through the crease.
"Last night I was thinking that this could be my last game and I didn’t want that to happen," said Wells. “We knew we would have to work hard today. We have been playing better as a team and things seem to be clicking on defense. We used some new defensive sets on them and that worked well."
Ted Ottens had another dominant game in the face-off circle by going 9-for-9 on draws in the first half and 15-for-17 for the game.
Peter Lindley led Darien with three goals.
The Wilton High boys lacrosse team opened a three-goal halftime lead and then hung on for a 7-6 victory over host Darien in a Class M state tournament quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon.
The 17th-seeded Warriors (11-9) will play either fourth-seed Guilford or fifth-seed New Fairfield in the semifinals on Wednesday at a time and site to be determined.
Wilton took a 5-2 halftime lead over ninth-seed Darien and had a 6-4 advantage after three quarters. The Blue Wave pulled within one goal, 7-6, with 2:23 to play, but Wilton was able to keep Darien scoreless the rest of the way.
Wilton goalie Conor Johnson was a standout with 17 saves, including several on point-blank shots.
Brendan Devane led the Warriors with three goals. Ryan Brameier added two goals and Ryder Farmakis and Luke Reyes-Guerra-Dunn each had one goal.
Ted Ottens won 15-of-17 face-offs for Wilton and didn't lose a draw in the first half.