Wilton rallies to beat Prep, advance to state finals
One more road game was nothing for the Wilton High boys lacrosse team. One more deficit was nothing for a team that dug itself a deep hole in the first half of the season.
The 19th seed in Class L will play for a championship on Saturday. Wilton came back Wednesday night to beat Fairfield Prep, 7-6, in the semifinals at Rafferty Stadium on the campus of Fairfield University.
“We’ve been playing with an edge all season. We started off 1-7. No one respected us,” said Wilton standout defender Ryan Schriber, one of several key players who lost time to injuries early in the season.
“No one expected us coming in here as a 19 seed or whatever; no one expected us to beat New Canaan, beat Prep, and now we have another chance to prove our Darien game wasn’t a fluke.”
The Warriors (14-9), ranked sixth in the GameTimeCT poll, will meet fifth-seed and top-ranked Darien (16-5) in the Class L final Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Brien McMahon’s Jack Casagrande Field — the state’s first great power, Wilton, against the program that has dominated the past two decades.
Wilton knocked off the Blue Wave, 4-3, in the FCIAC semifinals, the signature upset in its second-half success.
Reilly Sullivan’s fourth goal put the Warriors up 7-6 with 3:12 to go Wednesday. The Jesuits had the ball most of the last minute and a half, but Ben Leung disrupted a pass as time ticked down, and Tyler Previte picked up a ground ball and cleared it with seven seconds left.
“Get the ball and run, I mean. This team works so hard, I’ve got to do anything to finish this one for the team. These guys are frickin’ warriors,” Previte said. “Going down 4-0, that’s how it’s been all year, revenge.”
They got revenge on the second-seeded, fourth-ranked Jesuits (17-4), who beat Wilton by a score of 10-6 here on April 13.
Fairfield Prep played Wednesday without All-America attackman Mason Reale, who tore his right ACL early in Saturday’s quarterfinal win over Newtown. The Jesuits still took a 4-0 lead early in the second quarter, with the Warriors turning the ball over constantly in the first.
Wilton rallied to go ahead 6-4 lead, and the Jesuits came back to tie the game at 6-6.
“We did what we practiced. Mason being hurt changed a few things,” Prep coach Graham Niemi said. “I thought we played a good lacrosse game. The kids played their heart out. I’m so proud of them for that. I say all the time, ‘Be where your feet are,’ and they stayed that way.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
With a hat tip to the Wilton defense, midfielder Reilly Sullivan scored four goals, including the winner.
“That was a great (Fairfield Prep) defense. We had to work on matchups, and we started to do that in the second quarter,” Sullivan said. “Things fell into place.”
Notes: Both teams were seeking their first trip to a state final since they won championships in 2013: Fairfield Prep in Class L, the Warriors in Class M.
Wilton now gets the chance for a 23rd championship: 16 in the 21 years in which the state coaches association ran the tournament, six more since 1995 under CIAC sanction.