After meeting in scrimmages over the past several seasons, the Wilton and Fairfield Prep boys lacrosse teams finally did battle with far more at stake on Friday.
"We take a lot of pride in Connecticut lacrosse," Wilton coach John Wiseman said. "Prep is a great team, and we wanted to get them on the schedule. We have scrimmaged them in the past; let's keep it in state when you can with the top teams."
Apparently the Jesuits didn't realize this game wasn't an exhibition.
Chris Nugent scored five goals as Wilton staked its claim as one of the best teams in the state by defeating Prep 13-6 at Alumni Field.
In a rare meeting between two of Connecticut's most consistent programs, the defending Class M champions showed who deserved to be ranked higher by grinding the host Jesuits into submission.
After Wilton fell behind 1-0 early, Nugent took over, scoring four times in the opening half, including two in a 25-second span to help give Wilton (9-3) a 4-2 lead after the first period that grew to 7-2 by the half.
"The kids play hard," Wiseman said. "We played with intensity; as a team we did a great job. You have to be able to handle the surges and spurts; we tell the guys in battle its not done until everything is won."
The Warriors then relied on their defense in a second half that was mostly controlled by Prep (11-2), closing down shooting lanes and denying looks at the net despite being bombarded with pressure.
However, Wilton struck often on the counter attack, as the combination of Nugent, Cole Rance (2 goals 5 assists), and Matt Kobyra (1 goal, 4 assists) wreaked havoc whenever the Warriors found open space.
"I had a few good opportunities but most of them were good looks by the other guys," Nugent said. "I just got a little open and they found me. We're a very complete team and we work well as a unit. We don't have any superstars on this team."
It was a complete team effort for Wilton, which relied on an excellent balance of outstanding defending, led by goalie Connor Johnson (10 saves), and clinical finishing from its attack.
It also received another outstanding performance from face-off man Ted Ottens, who won 17 of 23 draws on the afternoon.
"Ted is an animal; some say he's the best in the tri-state area," Wiseman said. "He's a combination of everything; quickness, ability and he works very hard."
The Warriors were far more efficient than their hosts, who, of the 16 shots they took in the second half, only managed to put three on the opposing net.
"It was definitely a tough game for us," Prep attacker Kevin Brown said. "We missed a lot of our scoring opportunities early on and that's what did us in. Once we got behind early we couldn't recover."
The Jesuits were looking to build on a series of excellent performances, including an eye-opening 11-10 victory against Chaminade (NY) six days ago. However, Prep's five-game winning streak was snapped in one of its most puzzling performances of the season.
"A week ago we thought we won a tremendously important game for our program beating one of the best lacrosse teams in the country," Prep coach Chris Smalkais said. "But we have to meet that on a day-to-day basis and we did not do that today."
On the other hand, Wilton hopes Friday's win springboards the school to its first FCIAC title since 1999.
"We lost to Darien by one goal as far as I'm concerned," Wiseman said. "We played them 8-8 until three minutes left and the game against Ridgefield (a wild 15-14 defeat) was a dogfight. Anyone watching this team should know we can play with anyone."