Ridgefield edges Wilton, reaches FCIAC semis
Making its first-ever appearance in the conference semifinals, the third-seeded Ridgefield field hockey team fell to second-seed Staples, 3-1, on Monday night at Fairfield Warde High School.
Staples, which has now won 16 consecutive games, led 2-0 at halftime and scored the first goal of the second half.
The Wreckers controlled the game from start to finish, as Laine Ambrose and Kyle Kirby scored in a four-minute span midway through the first half for a two-goal lead. When Izzy Deveney finished during a wild scramble in the circle with 21:18 to play, the Wreckers had a 3-0 advantage.
Defensively, Staples allowed just two shots, as the backfield of Deveney, Grace Cooper, Maisie Dembski, and Erica Fanning was impeccable.
Ridgefield (14-2-0-2) lost for only the second time in regulation this season — its other two defeats came in overtime, including one to Staples in the second game of the regular season.
“Staples has had many visits to the FCIAC tournament and this is Ridgefield’s first trip ever to the final four of the FCIAC,” Ridgefield coach Jessica Smith said. “It was our first time playing at this high of a level and Staples is very comfortable in games like this. That advantage definitely played for them.”
The Tigers averted a shutout, however, as Aerin Krys scored on an assist from Riley Peters with 8:26 remaining. It was just the ninth goal allowed by the Wreckers this season.
“They do not give up,” Smith said about her players. “You can’t count Ridgefield out, ever. We will fight till the very end. In our first game against Staples we scored in the last minute to tie it, so Ridgefield does not quit.”
Irving scores lone goal in quarterfinal win
The Tigers advanced to the semifinals with a 1-0 quarterfinal victory over sixth-seed Wilton last Friday in Ridgefield
Cate Irving’s goal in the opening minute of play was the difference, as neither team was able to score the rest of the game.
“We made some positioning adjustments from the first time we played Wilton,” said Smith, referring to her team’s 1-0 regular-season win back on Oct. 2. “We improved our defense and marked players to the point where that one goal could hold out.”
That one goal came only 18 seconds into the game. Bella Carrozza laced the ball past defenders to Irving, who completed the transaction by scoring on a hard sweep shot.
“Going into the first game against Wilton, we knew it was going to be tough — we hadn’t beaten them in years,” Irving said. “In this game, we were confident — we came out immediately and were able to get something on the board in regulation, which kept our heads in the rest of the game.”
Both teams had chances to score after Irving’s goal. Ridgefield’s Isabel Redrup narrowly missed the net with a shot off a pass from Carrozza, and Wilton’s Olivia Hahn nearly tied the game on a reverse sweep. But led by senior Bailey Harriott, Ridgefield’s defense was able to prevent the tying goal.
The Warriors did apply serious pressure in the last seven minutes, collecting five penalty corners. On one of those, Samantha Slough’s insert resulted in several shot attempts, all of which were denied by either Ridgefield defenders or sophomore goalie Lisa van Gompel.
“We’ve improved from each game, and that’s going to continue to be our goal for the postseason,” Smith said. “We’ll be making small adjustments and improvements where we need to and the level of play we’ve reached will continue to carry us through these upcoming games.”