New Canaan rallies for tight win over Wilton
Published 8:00 pm, Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Bone-crunching hits don't always motivate the team that flattens the opposition.
Sometimes, as when New Canaan middie Matt Blasco got decked while shooting during his team's come-from-behind 10-8 win against Wilton, the repercussions are damning for the aggressors.
With his team trailing 5-2 early in the second quarter, Blasco was leveled by a Warriors defenseman as he shot from the top of the point, but not before his effort rippled the twine. His score began a New Canaan rally that would see Rams tie the game 7-7 at halftime and 8-8 after three quarters.
"Once we got that goal, it was game-on," Blasco said. "It really got everyone pumped up."
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Both New Canaan (5-1, 6-4) and Wilton (3-3, 4-5) have had trouble living up to their billing this season as FCIAC powerhouses. Not because they are underachieving, but because they schedule their non-conference games against the region's - and therefore some of the nation's - best teams.
Wilton is now losers of five of its last seven, but those losses came at the hands of Darien, two out of state powerhouses, a one-goal loss to upstart Brien McMahon, and now Tuesday night's defeat against New Canaan.
"We are one of the many FCIAC teams after Darien that are right there beating up on each other," Wilton coach John Wiseman said. "What you saw today was two good teams in a dogfight. We started strong and fought hard, but they tightened up on their possessions and played some good defense in the second half. I mean, look at Ridgefield, they were undefeated going into today, but they hadn't played anyone yet.
"It's been tough going for us recently, but this is all preparation for when it counts in the postseason," Wiseman continued.
After dominating early on, Wilton led by three goals midway through the second quarter. Sean Carroll had two first quarter goals and co-captain Michael Francia ended with two goals and two assists to lead the Warrior attack.
But after Blasco's goal cut the deficit two with eight minutes remaining in the half, New Canaan began asserting itself. Scott O'Brien was involved in three of the next four Rams goals, ending the game with two goals and two assists, while Blasco recorded a hat trick.
After the half, the Rams continued to enjoy the bulk of possession, and even when Wilton established its offensive sets, the defense came up with timely interceptions while goalie Jimmy Joe Granito made several key saves.
"We started so strong but didn't' capitalize on the chances we got later in the game," Wiseman said. "Their defense definitely picked up, and Jimmy Joe had a good game, but we should have buried some of those chances."
New Canaan was more than happy to settle down the pace of the game and bide its time. According to Blasco, the Rams are at their best when they don't rush their shots.
"We've got a couple of good shooters on the team and guys that like to create plays, which works well for our team offense," Blasco said. "But our outside shooting is how our offense is set up. After you work the ball around a couple of times things open up. As coach says, patience is a virtue."