Wilton stuns Darien in State semifinals
The third time was certainly a charm for Wilton, as the No. 5 seeded Warriors (14-5) claimed a lopsided 11-3 win in a shocking dismantling of the top-seeded Darien Blue Wave (16-2) at Fairfield Ludlowe High School on Wednesday afternoon. Wilton finally got over the hump after losing the two previous meetings between the FCIAC powerhouses, including a 9-6 decision in the FCIAC semifinals.
The loss was Darien's first in State Tournament play since an 8-6 loss to New Canaan in the 2004 D-I semifinals. The Blue Wave had won 26 consecutive state playoff games, outscoring their opponents 348-115 in the process.
Wilton goalie Samuel Somers was on top of his game from the get-go, denying multiple Darien scoring opportunities and racking up 19 saves.
"I don't know if we wanted it more, but we wanted it badly. Everyone on our team was going 110 percent and hustling on every ground ball," Somers said. "Every game I go out there and try to place my best and my defense played stellar today. They gave me shots that were savable for the most part and everything came together."
The game stayed scoreless for over 10 minutes of play, but Wilton's Michael Serpa changed all that by beating Darien goalie Dylan Torey on a wraparound goal with 1:15 remaining to put his team up 1-0 with the only goal of the opening quarter.
Wilton required just 20 seconds to extend its lead to 2-0 at the beginning of the second quarter when Matthew Dunn scored with a high shot after taking in a pass from Connor Melillo. Goals by Michael Francia and Christopher Nugent gave Wilton a 4-0 lead before Darien's Henry West scored after receiving a pass from Jon Magnusson to make the score 4-1 with 27 seconds remaining in the half.
"I think we were still in it at the half. We ran out of options and go-to guys," Darien coach Jeff Brameier said. "This is a game of momentum and energy. The Wilton kids had a lot of energy today. My hat is off to them. They out-played us and I think I got out-coached today. Give credit to their program."
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Wilton seized total control of the game in the third quarter, extending its 4-1 halftime advantage to 9-1 after three periods, essentially clinching the game.
"We played a great game today; it was the way we've always wanted to play for 48 minutes," Wilton coach John Wiseman said. "Obviously Sammy was a wall, and the defense played great. It was advance-or-die and we advanced, but we've got a banner to hang."
Darien, which was already without star attacker Case Matheis, had to cope with an injury to fellow attacker Richard Gregory, who was lost with a head injury midway through the second quarter.
"Was it malicious? I don't know. They're playing aggressive," Brameier said. "You can't take anything away. It's an aggressive sport and Richard is going hard to the cage. I'm not going to get into pointing fingers at anybody."
With the win, Wilton advanced the State Championship game against the No. 7 New Canaan Rams (13-6), who were victorious in Wednesday's other semifinal game against the No. 3 New Fairfield Rebels. The game will be played at Saturday at Brien McMahon High School at a time to be determined.
"I don't know if we were surprised. We still have work to do though," Somers said. "Beating Darien is nice and all, but we've got a State Championship to win, and that's what's next for us."