After graduating 12 players and getting a new head coach, the Ridgefield High field hockey team has entered the season as an unknown quantity.
Based on the Tigers’ opening game, there is plenty of quality.
With two freshmen contributing goals, Ridgefield defeated New Fairfield, 3-0, in a non-conference contest Friday at Tiger Hollow.
“We had a game plan coming in tonight to own the field,” said first-year head coach Jessica Smith. “It’s a daunting task for these girls to replace starting positions, but that test has bonded them …”
It took Ridgefield 23 minutes to score its first goal, but the Tigers’ level of control prior to that hinted at the domination to come. Whether it was Bella Carrozza’s clearing slapshots or Bailey Harriott’s deterring defense, New Fairfield was unable to get off a shot or take a penalty corner.
After sitting out for a few minutes with a yellow card for obstruction, Jennifer Paul reentered the game and immediately made her presence known, lacing the ball to the post, where freshman Aerin Krys was there to tap in the first goal.
“Having this varsity debut is incredible in itself, so I knew I had to show up tonight,” Krys said. “With the level of communication and camaraderie we already have, our talent is only going to grow for the rest of the season.”
Accompanying the new talent was the familiar assertive presence of Carrozza, who quickly added to Ridgefield’s lead. After initially being denied off a corner, Carrozza regained control and capitalized on a New Fairfield foul, sending a reverse slapshot through the defense for the Tigers’ second goal.
“Coach Smith has already instituted an incredible amount of support and organization,” Carrozza said. “We lost 12 seniors and yet we all feel confident and are looking forward to being playmakers and a formidable opponent in our upcoming games.”
Ridgefield added its third goal in the second half, as freshman Julia Carrozza (Bella’s younger sister) scored on a sweep shot into the corner for the New Fairfield net.
“It’s a dream come true to be here, and I know the thrill of getting a goal tonight will fuel me for the rest of the season,” Julia Carrozza said. “I can’t wait to keep learning alongside my teammates.”
“I expect greatness from us …” said captain Ellie O’Connor. “With this offensive organization, and as these younger girls continue to show up, my co-captain, Maddie Peters, and I are going to lead a great team.”