NHS, Wilton tie
By STEVE GEOGHEGAN
Hour Staff Writer
WILTON — It seemed neither the Wilton nor the Norwalk boys soccer teams were about to leave Lilly Field without a point.
That’s how the game played out with each squad fighting for everything it got yet and when the dust, or in this case mist, settled, the Warriors and Bears had to settle for a 0-0 draw on Senior night Friday.
“I said to the boys that any team that lost tonight was going to be devastated,” Wilton head coach Jim Lewicki said. “We’ll take the 0-0 tie and the point.”
The Warriors (7-4-3) needed the point more than the Bears (10-1-4), who have already clinched a spot in the eight-team FCIAC playoffs. Wilton sat in seventh place in the standings prior to Friday’s game while Norwalk was second.
Each side had a handful of scoring opportunities yet couldn’t convert.
“It was a really good game, back and forth,” Norwalk head coach Chris Laughton said. “We had our chances, they had their chances and Wilton is always a good team. There are some definite positives we can take from this.”
The first half was a defensive struggle most of the way with neither team getting off quality shots on goal. Whenever Norwalk advanced into its offensive third, Wilton’s Patrick Prinner and Matt ‘Ravi’ Ravichandran thwarted such advances while Norwalk’s Loizos Karaiskos, a stalwart in the back, and Jose Canahui did their best to break up the Warriors’ efforts on offense.
The Bears had three offsides called against them (four for the game) with Laughton saying his players had to adjust to the wider field but he noted they did as the game wore on.
Wilton’s Michael Lynch made a run at the goal but his shot to the left post was saved by Tyler Dalton (four saves) with 16:21 left in the half.
“We need to stay composed in the final third, that’s been really killing us this season not being able to score,” Lynch said. “The ball will end up in the net sooner or later. I thought we played really well and we’re happy with this because they are a top-level team and we showed ourselves, and other teams in the FCIAC, that we can play at a top level.”
Norwalk didn’t get off any solid shots until late in the first half but they carried it over into the second and Patrick Barrantes nearly gave his team the lead with a strike from 40 yards out that Wilton goalie Will DeSantis (five saves) punched up over the crossbar and out of bounds with 15:43 remaining in the second.
“We couldn’t finish our chances and it just wasn’t our day,” Barrantes said. “We came out a little slow in the first half but in the second half we came out stronger. We did a good job of keeping possession and creating chances, we just need to work on finishing.”
Ten minutes later, the Warriors went on a run into Norwalk’s end with Lynch passing to David Schneidman down the middle of the field and he set up Josh Reeve on the right wing for the finish but Reeve’s shot far post went wide and out of bounds with 5:02 on the clock.
“It was bang-bang play,” Lewicki said. “It was a great driven ball from David and Josh was in the right place at the right time, it’s just unfortunate the ball didn’t go in.”
Laughton said it was an exciting game to be a part of and he praised the play of Alex Escalante, who settled the game down in the midfield, and Anthony Hernandez. He also said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears see the Warriors in the playoffs.
As for Wilton, Lewicki said the tie against a top-notch opponent such as Norwalk will give his players confidence going forward.
“We played a great game and it’s a great rivalry,” he said. “We always get up for Norwalk and Chris does a great job with his kids. The kids played hard and left everything on the field.”