WILTON -- Most of the Wilton High field hockey team played in last season's heartbreaking loss to Staples in the FCIAC Tournament final. The Warriors, seeded first in this year's playoffs, got a little redemption on Saturday with a 7-0 quarterfinal round win over the No. 8 Wreckers.
"They definitely remember that game. We learned a lot," Wilton head coach Dierdre Hynes said.
The stakes were quite a bit higher in last year's postseason meeting, but the Warriors took their first step toward getting back to the pinnacle game in convincing fashion.
Wilton will face Greenwich, a 3-0 winner over Stamford, in the semifinals on Tuesday in New Canaan.
The Warriors had a 20-3 advantage in shots and mustered 14 penalty corners to Staples' three. Wilton capitalized on its penalty corners with five goals coming off those setups, most of which were inserted by Ward. Joanne Nazareth logged four assists, Hendry had two and Ward added one helper.
"I think we learned from today's game. We, mentally, weren't there," Staples head coach Ashley Del Vecchio said. "We've developed so much since the last time we played them. I was expecting them to be a stronger team as well."
The Wreckers were one of few teams to score on Wilton this past regular season, and kept things close in a 3-1 defeat. "I was surprised. I thought we'd play a lot better," Staples captain Shelby Phares said.
"I'm not surprised. I'm pleased with the outcome," Hynes said. "In the playoffs anything can happen on any given day."
It didn't take Wilton long to strike in the quarterfinals. The Warriors got goals 2:01 apart less than 10 minutes in to seize a 2-0 lead. Tudisco scored first and Ward made it 2-0 before the Wreckers could generate any chances. Hendry scored the next goal. Each of those goals came off penalty corners.
"That was nice to see today. We've had a little bit of trouble with those this season," Hynes said of penalty corners.
Staples did not get a shot until the second half. Wilton goalie Lizette Roman-Johnston made two saves. Staples' Molly Barreca and Jodie Baris each had seven saves in goal.
Hynes is confident, that, with the same type of performance, her team can do well against a Greenwich squad it defeated in the regular campaign.
"I think we had excellent support and finished chances, and we hope to bring that into the next game," she said.
Del Vecchio, meanwhile, is excited for the start of the state tournaments and says a few days off are welcomed. The Staples coach will look for more cohesion on the field in the Class L state playoffs.
"We definitely need to play more as a team," Phares added.
Andy Hutchison is a freelance writer
WILTON 7, STAPLES 0
Staples 0 0--0
Wilton 4 3--7
Goals: W--Emily Arrix 2, Valentina Tudisco, Megan Ward, Madison Hendry, Megan Cunningham, Kristen Godin. Assists: W--Joanne Nazareth 4, Hendry 2, Ward. Goalies: S--Molly Barreca 7, Jodie Barris 7; W--Lizette Roman-Johnston 2. Shots: S--3; W--20.