Greenwich High

Wilton uses big first half to power past Greenwich boys lacrosse team

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich’s Colin Zeller, right, looks to make a move while being defended by Liam Pearsall of Wilton during an FCIAC boys lacrosse game, held on April 15, 2023, at Cardinal Stadium in Greenwich.

After scoring in double figures in its previous two games and averaging 13 goals per game over its last three matchups, goals were, indeed, tough to come by for the Greenwich High School boys lacrosse team against Wilton on Saturday at Cardinal Stadium.

The Warriors had plenty of possession time and when the Cardinals did have the ball, they had to work hard against Wilton’s defense to generate shots on goal and scoring opportunities.

By the time Greenwich settled into the game, Wilton had a seven-goal lead and was well on its way to recording a convincing 9-3 road victory in an early-season FCIAC matchup.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Cardinals (3-2, 1-1 FCIAC), who entered Saturday’s matchup off victories against Stamford, Weston and Bronxville.

Wilton (4-2, 3-0 FCIAC) was powered by senior attack Wilson Tansill, who recorded a hat trick with an assist. Coached by Steve Pearsall, the Warriors held a 3-0 lead after the first quarter, then entered halftime with a comfortable 7-0 advantage.

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich senior Matthew Trimmer right, covers Wilton’s Joey Hegerty during an FCIAC matchup.

“We have had trouble coming out of the gate and spotting teams goals, so that was our focus the last couple of days – be aggressive and stay aggressive the whole game and I think we did that today,” Pearsall said. “The defense played well, our goalie played great today, the defense was aggressive on the ground balls. That was the key on both sides of the ball, stay aggressive.”

Michael Wall, a senior attack, registered one goal and two assists for Wilton, which defeated Greenwich by exactly the same score – 9-3 – in the 2022 season. The Cardinals didn’t have much rhythm offensively in the opening half, as the Warriors had several long possessions.

“I think we came out a little timid and we lost our composure at times,” Greenwich coach Bobby Lutz said. “At halftime, we regrouped, which is good, because it showed they had fight in them. Sometimes it’s a little too little, a little too late. We won the second half, but when you’re in such a hole in the first half it doesn’t really help.”

“When the offense did have the ball enough time went by where we didn’t get into a rhythm and we pressed,” Lutz continued.

Michael Wall of Wilton looks to move the ball against Greenwich’s zone defense in FCIAC boys lacrosse action.

Greenwich received two goals from sophomore attack Mikey Brescia, one goal from freshman attack Dean Kim and two assists from senior attackman Brian Collins. Sophomore goalie Ilan Amaro made 12 saves for the Cardinals, who got five faceoff wins from Lane Critchwell.

“It was great performance by them, hats off to them, they had a great defensive game too,” said Brescia, who has helped power Greenwich’s attack each game. “They stuck their shots on their side of the ball, that’s a great team. Hopefully, we’ll see them again and give them a better run.”

Caleb Rath, a senior midfielder, scored the game’s first goal, tallying off a pass from senior attackman Charlie Johnson, making it 1-0 with 4:33 remaining in the opening quarter. Junior longstick midfielder Conner Flanagan gave the Warriors a 2-0 lead just 16 seconds later, after Wilton won the faceoff. Wall assisted on Flanagan’s transition goal.

With only 19 seconds to go in the opening quarter, Tansill snuck a shot past Amaro, putting the visitors on top, 3-0. Sophomore Joey Hegarty assisted on the goals for the Warriors, who took some time to find open looks against the Cardinals’ zone defense.

Photo by David Fierro: Jack Schwartz of Wilton, left and Mikey Brescia of Greenwich are cousins. They competed against each other at Cardinal Stadium on April 15, 2023. The Warriors defeated the Cardinals, 9-3.

“We were preparing for the zone, we knew they were going to throw it at us, so we prepared well, we played well,” Tansill said. “Our offense was good. We started off slow, but we kept our heads up and we kept moving the ball around – we were finding guys open.”

The Warriors were determined to get off to a strong start against the Cardinals, following their setback against Stepinac at home on Thursday.

“We had a good practice yesterday, it was definitely a big bounce back after what happened Thursday,” said Tansill, referring to Wilton’s 12-7 loss against Stepinac.

Controlling a long pass from senior George Hahn, Johnson tallied in transition for Wilton’s fourth goal at the 7:04 mark of the second quarter. Less than a minute later with 6:26 to go in the second frame, Tansill scored on a laser from 15 yards out, putting the Cardinals in a 5-0 hole.

Photo by David Fierro: Wilton’s Charlie Johnson, left, looks to pass the ball during a game against host Greenwich.

“They played zone for the most half, certainly for most of the first half,” Pearsall noted. “We worked on being patient. They’re a tough defensive team, so we waited patiently, picked our spots and hit our shots.”

Tansill added another first-half goal and senior attackman Dave Sylvester tallied, putting the visitors on top, 7-0 at halftime. Brescia put Greenwich on the scoreboard by scoring off a pass from Collins with 10:32 left in the third quarter.

At the 2:34 mark of the third quarter, Brescia tallied, cutting Wilton’s lead to 7-2. The Cards came close to shutting the Warriors out in the third quarter, but Wall scored in transition off a long pass with only two seconds to go in the quarter, making it 8-2.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Lutz noted. “We went down 7-0, but made adjustments and settled in after halftime, but way too little too late.  Once again, our youth and inexperience showed. Wilton was just more physical and won almost every ground ball battle.”

Greenwich’s Adam Kim defends against Wilton during a lacrosse game at Cardinal Stadium at Greenwich High School.

Greenwich mostly played a zone defense and mixed in its man-to-man defense.

“We went zone and they did a good job of finding the seams in it,” Lutz said of Wilton’s offense. “When we switched back to man, I was impressed with the way we handled man. This way we don’t have to be a one package team, we can do zone or we can do man back and forth.”

In the fourth quarter, senior James Kane scored for Wilton, which got eight saves from senior goalie Evan Blankenship, five of which came in the second half.

Senior Andre Wiest and sophomore Jack Schwartz helped lead Wilton’s defensive effort in front of Blankenship.

“We just were talking a lot more and we stuck to our plan,” Wiest said. We came off the loss to Prep and then the loss to Stepinac and we looked at ourselves and just got back to the drawing board. It was time for us to get back to the basics and today, we played as a unit. We were struggling playing cohesively and we knew we needed to eventually start clicking and now it’s starting to click.”

Greenwich and Wilton renewed their FCIAC rivalry at Cardinal Stadium on Apri 15, 2023.

Greenwich faces two more formidable foes this coming week. Rival New Canaan visits Cardinal Stadium on Thursday, then the Cardinals will host Mamaroneck (N.Y.) High School at Saturday on Field No. 7.

“That is one of the hardest FCIAC opponents we’ll play all year and we’ll come out stronger in the coming games,” Brescia said.

Greenwich-Wilton in action in an FCIAC game held at Cardinal Stadium.

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