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The passes were crisp, the gaps were open and the spacing was exceptional.

In a 3-1 win over Norwalk Monday afternoon, the Wilton boys soccer team executed possession-based soccer as well as a high school team can for 80 minutes.

You would never know the style of play was all new for the Warriors, who featured a more direct approach with longer passes in the past.

“We are playing more possession style this year,” Wilton senior captain and striker Michael Zizzadoro said. “Our ball movement is looking phenomenal. That core midfield of Connor Uitterdijk, Liam McLaughlin and Owen Lillis were able to get the ball through those gaps by switching it back and forth and opening up those gaps to get the balls up to me and the other strikers.”

The new style is the brainchild of first-year coach Edwin Carvajal and is a big reason why the team is out to a 2-0 start with nine goals scored, so far.

This may be Carvajal’s first season as head coach of the varsity but he has been coaching in the Wilton program as an assistant, freshmen and JV coach before taking over the helm this summer.

In fact, the current junior class played for Carvajal as freshmen two seasons ago and many of them on JV last year, making the transition easier.

“They seem to be buying in, which is awesome,” he said. “I have known a lot of the juniors for a long time because I have been with them so long. I have had that mentality about strategy since I was a kid. The more we can control the ball, the less opportunity the other team has to go at us and get into the game. The more we keep the ball, the better it will be for us.”

Against Norwalk, Wilton controlled roughly 75% of the possession, despite Norwalk’s forwards high-pressing any ball Wilton played back.

Wilton, though it has never won a FCIAC championship, has a rich history as one of the FCIAC’s best programs, winning two state championships since 1988.

The program has struggled the past few seasons, going 4-9-3 in 2018; 5-7-4 in 2017 and 4-9-3 in 2016 after a stellar 10-3-3 campaign in 2015.

This group, made up mostly of seniors and juniors, has their eyes on a return to both the FCIAC and state playoffs this season.

Along with the solid attack and strong midfield, the defense is also playing very well.

“It’s awesome because you trust your teammates more and don’t have to cover as much when the defense and goalie are playing so well,” Zizzadoro said. “The guys up top rely on the players back there and we have confidence they will get it back up to us. You know Jack (Lynch) is going to make the saves if anything gets through the defense. It’s a really good feeling.”

Lynch looked like an All-FCIAC caliber net-minder against Norwalk and if he, and the rest of the team, can continue that strong play, Wilton may find itself not only in the playoffs, but contending for titles.; @EricsonSports