Ridgefield girls soccer, field hockey fall in FCIAC semis
The Ridgefield field hockey and girls soccer teams both lost in the FCIAC semifinals Monday night.
Making its first-ever appearance in the conference semifinals, the third-seeded RHS field hockey team fell to second-seed Staples, 3-1, 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.”
At Wilton High, the third-seeded Ridgefield girls soccer team lost to second-seed St. Joseph, 2-1, in overtime. The setback denied Ridgefield a chance to defend its FCIAC title.
Maddie Fried scored the winning goal on a penalty kick after St. Joseph teammate Anastasia Kydes was taken down in the box with 8:37 left in the second overtime. Fried beat Ridgefield goalie Kelly Chittenden with a shot to the right corner.
“We’ve been practicing PKs now … you just have to get your head in the game and you have to silence everything around you,” Fried said. “I just knew that that was going to be the end of the game, so I made it.”
After Fried’s go-ahead goal, the Cadets were able to preserve their lead and earn a spot in the finals.
“No one deserved to lose; I just thought we deserved to win,” St. Joseph coach Jack Nogueira said. “We came up with a big play by a special player.”
The Cadets came closest to breaking through in a scoreless first half, forcing Chittenden to make several superb saves and nearly taking the lead when Fried sent a shot off the post.
But with forwards Caitlin Slaminko, Faith Arnold and Tasha Riek getting more space, Ridgefield created chances early in the second half. The Tigers (14-1-3) then went ahead in the 64th minute, when a St. Joseph conceded an own goal off Eva McKinley’s free kick into the box.
The advantage lasted less than two minutes, however, as Annie Stook scored on a header to tie the game with 14 minutes remaining.
Arnold almost ended the match in regulation, blasting a shot that skimmed off the Staples crossbar and over the net with 3:15 left in the second half.
“I can’t give enough credit to how (Ridgefield coach) Iain (Golding) runs his program,” Nogueira said. “They are always ready to play … they’re a quality opponent. I’m just happy about my girls. A lot of people didn’t think we could compete for a championship and now we have a chance on Thursday night … we’re going to give everything we can.”