An injury-ravaged squad facing a must-win game.
Not the most desirable situation, but precisely where the Ridgefield High boys soccer team found itself Friday evening.
Nonetheless, the Tigers got what they needed: A 2-1 victory on Senior Night over St. Joseph.
Goals from seniors Connor Broderick and Nick Yulo were enough for Ridgefield in a tense game at Tiger Hollow.
The triumph ended a three-match winless streak for Ridgefield, which is now 4-7-1 with four games remaining. More important, it moved the Tigers closer to securing a berth in the Class LL state tournament.
Ridgefield applied early pressure on St. Joseph in Friday’s game. But a dribbling run from junior Tim Vanni, who slalomed through opposing defenders, and a pass across the face of goal from senior Alex Holder did not produce goals for the Tigers.
The hosts eventually found the goal they were looking for, as a well-placed cross from senior Tristan Brandt found the feet of Broderick, who fired a shot home for a 1-0 lead.
Ridgefield continued to push for another goal, pressuring the St. Joseph backline and threatening goalkeeper Tyler Higgins. Whenever the Cadets had the ball in Ridgefield’s half, the Tigers’ defense was able to effectively break down any remotely threatening attacks.
But against the run of play, the Cadets (3-7-2) got the equalizer. A St. Joseph player was able to get around Ridgefield goalie Ryan Sheafe and tap the ball into the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
After conceding, the Tigers continued to push forward, hoping to retake the lead before halftime. Despite electrifying runs along the right flank by Yulo and fantastic play from its midfield, Ridgefield ended the opening 40 minutes in a 1-1 tie with the Cadets.
The second half began as the first had ended, with the Tigers continuously pressuring the St. Joseph backline in search of the go-ahead score. The quest culminated with an absolute golazo from Yulo, whose shot flew over the outstretched hands of Higgins and into the St. Joseph goal, giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead within the first 10 minutes.
“It felt amazing [to score],” said Yulo afterwards. “I woke up this morning and I told myself I was gonna do it for Charlie [Poremba], Jack Shickell … people that we’ve lost [due to injury], and people that aren’t physically able to play.”
Following Yulo’s goal, Ridgefield fired numerous shots on the St. Joseph goal. The Cadets eventually managed to make some substantial forays into the final third, but Sheafe made a critical save to keep Ridgefield’s lead intact, knocking a shot that seemed to be destined for the back of the net over the crossbar.