Coming into last Tuesday night's FCIAC tournament co-final against Wilton, Norwalk had amassed 12 shutouts on the season, including a 2-0 win over Danbury in the FCIAC opener.
The Bears have not been accustomed to trailing many opponents, and yet that was the challenge they faced after Wilton junior David Brown scored less than two minutes into the match.
"We haven't been able to practice for a week and a half, so we knew that we'd probably come out a little rusty," Norwalk coach Chris Laughton said, alluding to the hiatus caused by Hurricane Sandy. "But I'm happy with the way the guys responded."
Norwalk came out somewhat flat in the first few minutes, but Wilton didn't capitalize on several point-blank scoring opportunities. Norwalk (16-1-1) kept it at a one-goal deficit and started resembling the team that won the FCIAC regular-season title.
Led by Nacho Navarro's two goals, the Bears beat the Warriors 5-1 to become co-champions of the truncated FCIAC tournament, exacting revenge against the only team to defeat them this season.
"They killed us the first time. We needed revenge," Navarro said.
Norwalk will share the FCIAC tournament title with Ridgefield, after the league opted to shorten its postseason tournament following the aftereffects of the recent superstorm. Ridgefield beat Greenwich 2-0 earlier in the evening at Taft Field.
Some might take issue with the bestowal of co-titles, but given Norwalk's FCIAC tournament record in recent years -- losing in the first round as the No. 1 seed each of the previous two seasons -- a piece of the championship will not be sneered at.
"As a sophomore and junior, we had the best team during the season," Navarro said. "We couldn't win. We're a family and we did it this year."
The first 10 minutes belonged to Wilton, but they missed several prime opportunities to add additional goals.
After Brown's opening score, sophomore Sean Dedrick almost made it 2-0 when he hit the post at 35:35. Less than a minute later, a Wilton crossing pass dribbled through the Norwalk box. Senior Robert Aravena had a wide-open net but he pulled a left-footed shot to the left of Norwalk goaltender Tyler Dalton (4 saves) and missed the net entirely.
Three minutes later, a lackadaisical clear by Norwalk was nearly disastrous, but Dedrick was stoned by Dalton.
"We missed a couple of opportunities," Wilton coach Jim Lewicki said. "We talked about it and we said boy that's not a good thing. The first five minutes, you had three opportunities and you only cashed in on one?"
Norwalk's Kevin Joslyn opened the scoring for the Bears. Senior Alejandro Rivera looped a crossing pass that Joslyn gracefully fielded out of the air and toed over Wilton goalkeeper Peter Como (13 saves), knotting the score 1-1 at 22:56.
Eleven minutes later, Navarro went nearside post off the hands of Como to put Norwalk ahead 2-1, which held up till the intermission. The Bears had 11 shots on goal to Wilton's six in the opening 40 minutes. Wilton wouldn't get their next shot on goal until well into the second half as Norwalk soon took over the match.
"The regular-season game was a good wakeup call for us," Laughton said. "We were 7-0 going into that game and Wilton came at us and played a great game against us. We were fortunate to come out and finish our opportunities tonight."
Winning the league title is satisfying, but the team has higher aims, Laughton said.
"These guys are excited. They want to win states. The last time we won states in Norwalk was 1966. That's what they want their legacy to be. They want to be the best team that ever came through Norwalk. They're on their way."
NORWALK 5, WILTON 1
NORWALK 2 3--5
WILTON 1 0--1
Records: Norwalk 16-1-1, Wilton 13-4-1.