Wilton Stuns Westhill in Dramatic Quarterfinal

WILTON, Conn. – With a dive and a save, Kasey O’Brien made the Wilton High School girls soccer team’s rollercoaster season worth it. Following a four-day layoff, the Warriors came out with fiery energy that lifted them to an improbable 2-2 (4-2 PK) penalty-kick victory over third-seeded Westhill in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference quarterfinals.

O’Brien made a pair of diving stops against Westhill’s freshman phenom Jess Laszlo and the game-winner against C.C. Bingham. The Warriors netted all four of their penalty kicks and O’Brien’s second save sent her teammates into a wild celebration.

“I was really determined to get [Laszlo’s] shot because I didn’t get the first two,” O’Brien said. “I saw her eyes go right just before she shot and I just managed to get one hand on the ball. I’m so proud of this team.”

Megan Boepple, JJ Munro, Alyssa Malvarossa and Colleen Deardoff netted the four penalty-kick period shots after a wild overtime period.

Casey Pearsall scored on a free kick in the 94th minute from 25 yards out on the far-left side to give Wilton a 2-1 lead. The thrill was short-lived, however, as Westhill was then awarded a penalty kick with less than two minutes to play in overtime. Nicole Eriksen drilled in the equalizer to send the match into the penalty-kick period.

After falling behind 1-0 in the first half, Wilton played a dominant second half, coming up with six shots on net. Two clanged of the goal post and a pair of point-blank shots missed just wide of the net.

Wilton’s determination was demonstrated on its first goal, when Tegan Helms and Westhill keeper Allie Souza both leapt for a bounding ball just inside the box. Helms just managed to get her head on the ball before Souza could touch it. The two collided, but the ball had just enough momentum to trickle in for the equalizer in the 68th minute.

Wilton’s tumultuous year has been well-documented, but the turnaround under new head coach Megan Rodriguez has been nothing short of astounding. When Rodriguez took over on Oct. 5, the Warriors had a record of 1-2-3. They finished the season out 7-1-2 and carried their momentum into the playoffs.

“This year we’ve all become so close as a team. We were prepared for this,” Helms said. “We’ve definitely overcome a ton this season, and this game is proof of it.”

The victory was Wilton’s first in a conference tournament since 2006. Wilton will take on Fairfield Warde in the FCIAC semifinals on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Norwalk High School.

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