Wilton field hockey stuns Darien in Class L semifinal shootout

NORWALK — Chalk up another win for the underdog Wilton field hockey team.

After playing 80 minutes locked in a scoreless duel, No. 11 Wilton defeated No. 2 Darien 3-2 in a shootout in the CIAC Class L semifinals Tuesday night at Testa Field in Norwalk.

It was the Warriors’ third consecutive playoff win against a higher-seeded team, after they topped No. 6 Staples 1-0, and No. 3 Hall 3-0 in the first two rounds.

Wilton (12-4-4-0) has embraced its role as an underdog.

“We came into the playoffs as underdogs, No. 11 seed, and nobody expected us to get too far,” Wilton coach Leon Kerr said. “But we decided we are playing on the 20th, and we did it.”

The 20th, of course, is the date of the state championship game, and the Warriors will be squaring off against No. 1 New Canaan (21-0-01) for the Class L crown on Saturday in Wethersfield. Wilton advanced to the state final for the first time since 2015, when it defeated Cheshire for the Class L title.

The Warriors received a fantastic performance from sophomore goalie Eva Filipponi (10 saves) and the defense while slowing down the high-powered offense of Darien (20-1-0-1). The Wave had beaten Wilton 5-0 on opening day, but the Warriors have been playing at a different level in the state tournament.

“It’s kind of crazy how much we’ve progressed this season,” Filipponi said. “(The) Staples (win) set us up for success and everyone has worked so hard. We just want to keep upsetting people.”

It was a bitter end to the season for FCIAC champion Darien, which had a 15-7 advantage in shots, and had a series of five consecutive penalty corners during the first half, but was unable to break through for a goal.

“It was a great game, it was a physical game, and it could’ve gone either way in regulation,” Darien coach Mo Minicus said. “We had our fair share of chances to score, as did they. Our defensive unit was stellar. It stinks, but it’s sports. I hate shootouts, but somebody has to win.”

In the shootout, the teams were tied 2-2 after Kaci Benoit and Morgan Massey had scored for the Wave, and Abigail Dolan and Hannah Fitzgerald had matched them for the Warriors.

In the final shots, Filipponi made a save against Darien’s Raina Johns, setting up Wilton junior Charlotte Casiraghi for a shot at the win.

Casiraghi made a move to the right, spun in front of goalie Grace La Du, and scored into the right side of the cage to clinch the trip to the final.

“I knew that I had to make it for us to win, so I just visualized in my mind the ball going in,” Casiraghi said. “I kept it simple, did what I always do on my practice shots, and it went in. Honestly, this is all I could’ve asked for.”

Kerr said having Casiraghi take a key shot is what Wilton wants.

“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” the coach said. “She is the player.”

The Wave missed its opportunity to take control of the game during the first half, when it held a 9-2 lead in shots. That included a run of five straight penalty corners midway through the second quarter, but Wilton’s defense turned them back.

The best opportunity on that series came on a high shot lifted by Kaci Benoit, but defender Megan Hanny knocked it down and the Warriors cleared. In all the backline unit of Hanny, Ashleigh Masterson, Nola Ryder and Natasha Ring were unbreakable for Wilton.

“Our defense is crazy, it’s so good,” Filipponi said. “I’m so proud of every single one of them. I know I always have help on corners, on any shot on goal, and there’s always someone there to get the ball out when I need it.”

The Wave’s defense, which featured Johns, Benoit, Massey and Maddy Hult in front of goalie Lindsey Darby, also had a great night while pitching a shutout.

“They stepped up,” Minicus said. “Raina is a wall back there, Kaci Benoit is everywhere, Morgan Massey was incredible with Maddy on the left. And on the other side, their defense was physical, so we just couldn’t get much attack going. When it’s like that, we just have to score on the corners and we couldn’t.”

With one more game left to play, Kerr said the Warriors aren’t changing anything.

“We’re just going to do what we’ve been doing all season long,” the coach said. “Just play our game and not worry about the umpires or the players on the other team. Once we play our game and execute, we’ll be fine.”


Eva Filipponi, Wilton: The Warriors’ sophomore goalie collected 10 saves and came up big with a key stop in the shootout to set up the winning shot.


“There’s a lot of heart on this team and everybody really, really wants to win. We’ve never done this before, we’ve never gone this far, so it really means a lot to everybody. We want to make it a memorable season for the seniors.” — Wilton’s Charlotte Casiraghi

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports

No. 11 WILTON 1, No. 2 DARIEN 0

WILTON 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 1

DARIEN 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0

(Wilton wins 3-2 in shootout)

Shootout: Wilton goals: Abigail Dolan, Hannah Fitzgerald, Charlotte Casiraghi; Darien goals: Kaci Benoit, Morgan Massey.

Goalies: W - Eva Filipponi 10 saves; D - Lindsey Darby 6 saves.

Records: Wilton 12-4-4-0; Darien 20-1-0-1