TRUMBULL — Losing on penalty kicks is probably the worst way in all of sports for a team’s season to end. And based on the Wilton High girls soccer team’s post-game celebration after its 1-1 (9-8 PK) victory over St. Joseph Wednesday, it just might be the best way to stay alive.
After Wilton’s Ashley Carbonier scored the tying goal with under 12 minutes remaining in regulation, Wilton and St. Joseph battled through two 10-minute overtimes before going to the 10th round of PKs to decide this Class LL second-round game.
And when Wilton’s freshman goalkeeper Erynn Floyd stopped a kick by the Cadets’ Ashley Collins, the Warriors were on their way to the quarterfinals, denying St. Joseph a chance at a fourth-straight state championship.
“You can train the girls and train the girls but in the end they’ve got to be mentally tough to win on PKs,” Wilton coach Renalto Topali said. “The only thing you can control is you and the ball. It’s all about mental toughness.”
The win lifts the 11th seeded Warriors (12-4-3) into a quarterfinal contest at home Friday at 2 p.m. against No. 19 Simsbury.
Each team Wednesday went 5-for-5 during the first round on PKs. Shelby Dejana, Olivia Gladstein, Carbonier, Alexandra Dejana and Elizabeth Connelly scored for Wilton while Jess Mazo, Hailey, Vechiarelli, Nina Pizzicarola, Sophia Lowenberg and Maddie Fried tallied for St. Joseph.
After Helen Mahoney converted to open the second round for the Cadets, Piper Chase tied it at 6-6. But then St. Joe’s Mary Lundregan’s shot went off the crossbar. Madeline Wecker, Elana Alber and Amelia Hughes then connected for Wilton while Caroline Sheehan and Annie Stook scored for the Cadets.
So it went to the 10th attempt with Wilton ahead 9-8. Collins went to the line for St. Joseph and kicked it right, but Floyd went to her left and grabbed it.
“Erynn is a freshman and showed some rookie signs earlier in the season,” Topali said. “But she really came up big today. I honestly think she is one of the best keepers in the FCIAC.”
Floyd’s save set off the visitors’ celebration and sent the Cadets to their dejected state. What made it worse for the Cadets is that throughout the game they had several chances for a second goal after Lowenberg scored in the game’s ninth minute.
“We should’ve won in regulation,” St. Joe’s coach Jack Nogueira said. “We really wanted to finish them off when it was 1-0. We felt it could’ve been 2-0 or 3-0 easily, but it didn’t happen. That’s soccer.”
Mazo, perhaps the best player in the FCIAC, had several chances to score, but misfired high. During regulation and overtime Floyd had 13 saves. St. Joseph goalie Grace Hickey, who initially stopped Wilton’s first PK but saw the ball trickle into the right corner, finished with eight saves.
“I think the injuries brought us closer,” Topali said of an injury-filled season. “We showed great character. Every time somebody went down, somebody stepped up.”
The No. 6 Cadets (15-3-2), meanwhile, lost their final two games in overtime to Ridgefield in the FCIAC semifinals, and then on PKs Wednesday.
“I’m proud of what we did this season,” Nogueira said. “But when you lose in this manner it’s very demoralizing.”
WILTON 1, ST. JOSEPH 1
(WILTON WINS 9-8 ON PK)
WILTON 0 1 0 0 — 1
ST. JOSEPH 1 0 0 0 — 1
Goals: Ashley Cardonier; SJ — Sophia Lowenberg. Assists: W — none; SJ — none. Goalie saves: W — Erynn Floyd 13; SJ — Grace Hickey 8.
Records: W 12-4-3, SJ 15-3-2