Defensive resistance and strong goalkeeping prolonged the process, but experience and adroit execution allowed the New Canaan field hockey team to overcome Ridgefield, 2-0, on Monday evening at Ridgefield High School.
With its arsenal of seniors leading the way, New Canaan moved the ball quickly, keeping Ridgefield chasing throughout the game.
“The level of control in their passes and careful manipulation of the ball kept us ahead tonight,” said New Canaan head coach Kelly Marks, whose team is now 6-1-0-1. “By utilizing every side of the field we were able to buy the time we needed for an offensive opening and to come out on top.”
Ridgefield (4-2-1-1) kept New Canaan scoreless for the first 16 minutes, but the Rams used constant pressure to make passing a challenge for the Tigers. Senior forward Celia Sokolowski was able to redirect a Ridgefield clearing attempt and beat goalie Rosemary O’Keefe from a side angle to give New Canaan a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers remained undeterred, however, and looked revitalized at the start of the second half, taking numerous shots and staying within one goal until the game’s final minutes.
“We finally began connecting our passes in the second half, and it provided us with much more exposure to the New Canaan goal than before,” said Ridgefield head coach Jessica Smith. “We were in the mindset of playing until the very end, and our pressure allowed us to do that …”
Although Ridgefield scoring threats became prevalent and midfielders Riley Peters and Lily Carnicelli maintained possession near the New Canaan cage, it was the Rams who got the final goal, scoring off a penalty corner with seven minutes left to finish their 2-0 triumph.
“It was a learning curve for both teams tonight; this game could have ended either way,” said Smith. “We persevered and ended in a loss, but the energy we saw in the second half could bring us a win the next time.”