Wilton girls soccer team heads to FCIAC finals (updated)
Haley English’s goal with just under seven minutes to play gave the Wilton High girls soccer team a 1-0 victory over Westhill in an FCIAC semifinal game Monday night at Norwalk High.
The second-seeded Warriors will now play top-seed St. Joseph (17-0-1) in the championship game on Wednesday at 4:30 in Norwalk. Wilton and St. Joseph played to a 2-2 draw back in September.
English got the game’s only goal — on a less than stellar shot attempt — with 6:58 remaining on an assist from Ashley Vitarelli to oust sixth-seed Westhill (10-7-1). Westhill had defeated the Warriors, 1-0, in the regular season.
Vitarelli, who had just stepped on the field, sent a crossing pass from the wing to English in the box. English fired off a quick shot that she didn’t hit squarely, but the ball had some spin on it and the shot hit off the Westhill goalie's arm and trickled into the net.
Wilton clearly had more quality chances to score prior to English’s goal but just couldn’t finish. Wilton’s Bridgette Dwyer pounded the goal on four long direct kicks, but the Vikings keeper, Zhenna Stewart, was there for the saves. Wilton outshot Westhill, 20-9.
Wilton defenders Makenna Pearsall, Dwyer and Julie Kobyra and midfielder Hannah Maatallah did another outstanding job of supporting goalie Hana Previtte (seven saves) and keeping the pressure off her. Kobyra was moved back to defense because Jillian Lauricella suffered an ankle injury in the quarterfinal round.
"It feels really good to win tonight,” said Wilton’s first-year head coach John Salvatore. “The girls responded well to a new way of doing things this season and it’s paid off on the field. We tell them keep putting the ball on the net and good things will happen."
Wilton shut down the Vikings main scoring threat, Jess Laszlo, and forced the Vikings to change their offensive set in the second half to get her more touches. Laszlo was coming off a hat trick in the quarterfinals against Darien.
"She’s a great player and you have to account for her," said Salvatore about Laszlo. "We didn’t want to change our system just for her. The way we have been playing defense has worked well all year. I was a little concerned without Jillian (Lauricella) back there, but Julie (Kobyra) did a great job in her place."
Wilton (13-2-3) will be making its first appearance in the conference finals since 2006, when it lost to Trumbull. The Warriors have won nine FCIAC titles.