Ridgefield advances to state quarterfinals with 5-2 win
After going unbeaten during the regular season, the Ridgefield girls soccer team lost in overtime to St. Joseph in the conference semifinals. The Tigers now will get a chance to avenge that setback while pursuing a third straight state championship.
By beating Shelton, 5-2, in a Class LL second-round game Thursday, fifth-seed Ridgefield set up a quarterfinal contest with fourth-seed St. Joseph on Saturday at 12:30 in Trumbull. The winner moves on to the semifinals next Tuesday or Wednesday against either top-seed Southington or ninth-seed New Canaan at a site and time to be determined.
In Thursday’s second-round game at Tiger Hollow, Shelton, the 27th seed, became only the third team to score two goals against Ridgefield this year. But the Gaels were unable to contain Ridgefield, which got two goals from Faith Arnold and one apiece from Tasha Riek, Grace Michalowski and Allison Ouellette.
“I was very impressed with Shelton — they came here with a good attacking plan and a lot of speed,” said Ridgefield head coach Iain Golding, whose team improved to 16-1-3. “Once we adjusted we did a great job of capitalizing on the scoring opportunities that were handed to us.”
When Riek scored the opening goal just four minutes into the game, a pain-free victory seemed imminent for the Tigers. Riek took a pass from Arnold and drilled a shot past Shelton goalie Arianna Malick.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Shelton responded less than a minute later. Noelle Garretson recovered a deflection and scored to tie the game at 1-1.
Arnold put Ridgefield back on top by scoring off an assist from Megan Klosowski, and Michalowski made it 3-1with a goal on a free kick.
But the Gaels wouldn’t go away, with Sarah Panek converting a cross from Elizabeth Porto to cut Ridgefield’s lead to 3-2.
If not for defender Alex Kinkead, Shelton might have followed with the equalizer. Shelton’s Haley Oko maneuvered past a fallen Ridgefield goalie Kelly Chittenden and looked to have an open net before Kinkead interjected and cleared Oko’s shot.
“Our priority, especially with the ball so close to the goal, is just to clear it by any means possible,” Kinkead said. “That was my only thought ... that I needed to back up my goalie and keep our lead intact.”
Arnold added Ridgefield’s fourth goal on a penalty kick and Ouellette finished the scoring with 90 econds left in the game.
“Once they scored their goals we became absolutely determined to get them back,” Arnold said. “The energy of postseason is always elevated and we’ll have to now take that to St. Joe’s.”
Notes: Chittenden had four saves for Ridgefield, while Shelton goalie Arianna Malick stopped 14 shots.
Shelton ended the season with a 13-4-4 record.