The Ridgefield High rugby club team has a chance to end the season by winning a state championship — on its home turf.
Ridgefield advanced to the Division 2 title game with a 24-7 victory over Greenwich, 24-7, in a semifinal match Thursday night at Tiger Hollow.
Second-seed Ridgefield now will play top-seed Fairfield in the championship contest on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Tiger Hollow. The teams played to a 41-41 tie in the final regular-season game on Tuesday.
In Thursday’s semifinal, the Tigers took a 7-0 lead when Reid Englert powered over the try line from 12 yards out.
A long clearing kick from its own goal line led to a weak-side break that allowed Greenwich to tie the score.
After kicking off, Ridgefield made a nice steal to regain possession. Following a number of phases, Will Daly dove over for the score that put the Tigers ahead to stay.
Ridgefield then increased its defensive pressure and forced Greenwich into a number of errors. The Cardinals were penalized for a high tackle on their 15-yard line, and Ridgefield’s Peter Behnke dove over for a score on the ensuing play.
Behnke added another try later in the match, and Englert kept Greenwich at bay by running for big yardage gains and a try.
Greenwich went to a high-speed, scrambling offense, but the Ridgefield defense held firm on two goal-line stands to prevent a comeback.
Sam Klotz led Ridgefield in tackles and was chosen as the Man of the Match.
Notes: Tuesday’s 41-41 tie with Fairfield included nine lead changes. The Tigers evened the score on a last-second try by Ian Austin.
Both Fairfield and Ridgefield ended the regular season with 8-1-1 records.
In addition to Klotz and Behnke — two seniors who will play college rugby next year — the Tigers have received strong efforts from Jackson Trotter, Liam Keppler, Xander Scavone, Tyler Greene, Englert, and Austin, among others, according to coach Pete McLean.
“Our guys have been really disciplined this year, displaying patience when needed,” McLean said. “[And] our athleticism allows us to strike from any part of the field.”