Playing in its first-ever state championship game, the Ridgefield High girls lacrosse team took a quick 1-0 lead over New Canaan on Saturday.
After that, however, it was the Rams who did most of the scoring.
Fifth-seed New Canaan notched eight of the next 10 goals to open an 8-3 halftime lead and went on to beat sixth-seed Ridgefield, 19-7, in the Class L finals at Jonathan Law High School in Milford.
“It’s humbling to reach a state final in itself … and while this wasn’t the ideal outcome, it’s been incredible to watch their camaraderie and hard work get us to where we are,” said Ridgefield head coach Cece Berger about her players.
Following several saves from goalie Lexi Held, the Tigers went ahead 1-0 when Maeve Tobin scored on an assist from Aly Gagnon with 4:45 gone in the opening half.
But Braeden Dial got the equalizer for New Canaan off a free-position shot less than a minute later, and teammate Karlie Bucci then scored to put the Rams in front to stay.
With Campbell Connors (three first-half goals) leading the charge, New Canaan built an 8-3 lead at halftime.
The Rams scored three of the first four goals in the second half to extend their lead to 11-4, but Ridgefield used a 3-1 run to close within five at 12-7.
New Canaan then resumed control, scoring five straight goals to take a 17-7 lead and send the game into running time with 7:20 left to play. The Rams added two more goals to close out the victory and win their sixth state title since 2010.
Mae Briody and Tobin each had two goals and an assist for Ridgefield, which ended the season with a 14-7 record. Caroline Curnal added two goals and Caitlin Slaminko scored one goal. Katie Hoban and Erika Linke each had an assist.
For New Canaan (17-5 overall), Dial finished with six goals and eight assists to earn MVP honors. Bucci contributed four goals and an assist, and Lauren Bisceglia and Connors each scored three goals.
“We had prepared all season for a game like this, and while there were nerves associated with a team of that level, all of us and myself were more than capable of rising to the challenge and playing to the best of our ability,” said Held, who made 11 saves in goal for Ridgefield.
“The score may not have shown it, but we were united today,” said Briody. “Simply being here was incredible, and we had to leave everything on the field to make all our effort worth it.”
“After four years, being here with a group of girls that are as close as we are is absolutely incredible,” added Curnal. “We left it all on the field, and I’m so proud to have been able to lead them.”
Notes: New Canaan’s victory was its third straight state against a fellow FCIAC opponent in the Class L tournament. The Rams defeated Wilton, 10-6, in the quarterfinals and top-seed Darien, 12-11, in the semifinals.
Ridgefield lost to New Canaan by just one goal, 7-6, during a regular-season game on April 17, but the Rams were not at full strength for that contest.
Seniors on Ridgefield’s roster were Lexi Pass, Lauren Whalen, Curnal, Briody, Hoban, and Linke.