WILTON — The best game plan to beat the Wilton girls lacrosse team is actually rather simple.
Just don’t let the Warriors possess the ball.
Fifth-seeded New Canaan worked that strategy to perfection in the second half, pulling away for a 10-6 victory over the fourth-seeded Warriors at Kristine Lilly Field on Thursday in a Class L quarterfinal.
“We possessed, we worked it and we played confidently,” New Canaan coach Kristin Woods said. “We talked a lot to the girls about being confident, determined and focused. We wanted to walk off the field with our heads held high, knowing we played our best.”
Braeden Dial led the New Canaan effort with five goals and one assist while Jane Charlton and Karlie Bucci (2 assists) had two goals each.
Leading 5-4 at the half, New Canaan — in the span of 56 seconds — got three quick goals from Dial, Charlton and Bucci to take an 8-4 lead.
“The start of the second half, I think, made the whole difference in the game,” Woods said. “Bucci came up with some big draw controls and we were able to score right away.”
But it was perhaps the Rams not shooting that helped win them the game.
They dominated possession over the course of the second half to hold Wilton at bay.
“We’ve been working a lot on discipline,” Dial said. “We had some free positions where we could have taken it and maybe scored, but they weren’t 100 percent so they weren’t worth giving up possession for.”
Wilton coach Meredith Meyran-Adamicki concurred that draw controls and possession foiled her team’s chances.
“That was it. It was draw controls in the second half and we just didn’t have the ball,” she said. “It was time of possession. What did we have the ball for? Five minutes? It didn’t even seem that long.”
The Rams (15-5) advance to the semifinals to face archrival Darien.
Wilton wraps up its season at 15-5.
A COMEBACK FOILED
When the Warriors did get possession of the ball in the second half, they were able to make a quick run at New Canaan.
Eva Greco and Julia Bonnist each scored just two minutes apart, but it was as close as Wilton would get.
Bonnist finished with three goals for Wilton while Greco and Sophia Sudano were held to one goal each. Taylor Lamantia also scored for the Warriors.
“Paisley (Eagan) and Eva have been outstanding through their whole high school career,” said Woods, explaining she had McKenna Harden and Caroline Schuh face-guarding the talented duo. “I think that just threw their offense off a little bit. They’re still strong threats, but it helped in the grand scheme of things.”
Caroline O’Day made four saves for New Canaan while Paige Brown (9 saves) and Bridget Wall (3 saves) split the duties for Wilton.
HOME SWEET HOME
Woods graduated from Wilton and was one of the Warriors’ best players, but she still enjoys coming home to the Danbury Road-based school.
“I like this field,” Woods said. “Of course it’s special to come back here. I love playing Wilton.”
Woods is still so important to the Wilton program that when the Warriors decided they didn’t want to wear their tradition-rich striped socks anymore, they sought Woods’ blessing.
Even the Rams know what a special rivalry it is for their coach, and it’s rubbed off on the players.
“Her and the Wilton coach are really close and we have a good relationship with them,” Dial said. “As much as it’s a rivalry, we wish each other well. Coach always roots for Wilton, except when we’re playing them.”
“It was a huge motivation,” Bucci said of her team’s loss to Wilton in the FCIAC semifinals after beating them during the regular season. “We wanted to win two out of three against them.”
NEW CANAAN 10, WILTON 6
NEW CANAAN 5 5—10
WILTON 4 2—6
Records: New Canaan 15-5, Wilton 15-5; Goals: NC—Braeden Dial 5, Jane Charlton 2, Karlie Bucci 2, McKenna Harden; W—Julia Bonnist 3, Eva Greco, Sophia Sudano, Taylor LaMantia; Assists: NC—Julia Ozimek 2, Bucci 2, Dial, Harden; Goalies: NC—Caroline O’Day (4 saves); W—Paige Brown (9 saves), Bridget Wall (3 saves).