After handing Fairfield Warde its first loss of the season over the weekend, the Ridgefield High girls soccer team set its sights on Greenwich, a team that hasn’t lost since its season opener Sept. 12.
In the end, though, Ridgefield had to settle for a 1-1 tie Tuesday night at Tiger Hollow.
The score was both fitting and frustrating: Fitting because the game was another low-scoring nail-biter that seemed to repeat recent history between the two teams; frustrating, however, because the game never should have been that close.
“We dominated the game. We should have won this game. No two ways about it,” said Ridgefield head coach Robb Banyai, whose team is now 6-2-2. “We had opportunities. We had countless opportunities. We probably had 14 or 15 very good scoring chances that we didn’t put away.”
The first half, though scoreless, had a frenetic pace with lots of possession changes. Ridgefield goalkeeper Kathryn Eckhoff made seven saves in the fist half alone, and the Tigers managed six shots.
“The two teams played the game the way it should be played — fast, physical and with a lot of heart,” said Greenwich coach Danny Simpson.
In the second half, Ridgefield struck when Sandy Carpenter received a pass from Carly Cugine and put the ball in the net to give Ridgefield a 1-0 lead. The Tigers continued to control the ball for much of the second half but were unable to score again.
“If you got points for possession, it would have been a blowout,” said Banyai. “This was a game that should have been, at worst, 4-1. We should have put four goals in. We probably had 75 percent possession of the ball. To do that, and walk away 1-1, we’re disappointed. For us it’s a loss.”
Greenwich scored the equalizer with six minutes left to play, when Eckhoff jumped to block a high Greenwich shot that ended up ricocheting off the crossbar and bouncing back into the goalie box. Greenwich’s Naomi Leeds then grounded the ball with her chest, took control, and blasted home a shot before Eckhoff could recover from her leap.
“With five minutes left, and the game on the line, to have that composure in the six-yard box, was fantastic,” said Simpson of Leeds’s goal.
Greenwich couldn’t capitalize on the sudden momentum shift, and the game ended in a 1-1 tie minutes later.
Despite the frustrating end to the game, the tie didn’t completely kill the feel-good vibes that followed the Warde victory over the weekend.
“I think we sent a message,” said Banyai. “Warde was the number one team in the league, Greenwich is the number two team in the league. We just beat one, tied the other. So, we’ve kind of sent a message that we can play with just about anybody.”