Ridgefield hangs tough with state powers

Bella Carrozza (left) battles a Darien player for control of the ball.

Bella Carrozza (left) battles a Darien player for control of the ball.

Scott Mullin / For Hearst Connecticut Media

Although it went winless in its first two games, the Ridgefield High field hockey team showed why it might not lose much more this season.

Playing two of the state’s top programs, the Tigers fell 2-0 to Darien last Thursday at home and then suffered a 2-1 overtime loss against Staples on Monday in Westport.

Staples has won the last three Class L state titles, sharing the 2016 championship with Darien, which has won eight state titles in the past 12 years.

Last Thursday’s opener was scoreless at halftime before Darien got two goals in the second half.

“[Darien] is one of the hardest teams we’re going to face, and the fact that we saw them right off the bat sets the tone for the rest of the season,” Ridgefield senior co-captain Bella Carrozza said. “This is the level we need to play at, and we can only get better from here.”

Neither team generated much offense during an opening half that had no shots on goal for the first 20 minutes. But five minutes into the second half, Darien freshman Raina Johns received the insert and pushed the ball towards the Ridgefield goal, with Molly McGuckin scoring on a tap-in following commotion in front of the net.

The goal was one of the few shots that evaded Ridgefield junior goalie Lisa van Gompel, who racked up 10 saves in an impressive performance.

Sparked by the efforts of senior standout Molly Hellman, the Blue Wave added an insurance goal from Evelyn Hidy to close out their 2-0 win.

Ridgefield’s players and coaches remained upbeat despite the setback.

“This was just the tip of the iceberg,” Bailey Harriott said. “We’re going to be coming out stronger every game from here.”

“We shouldn’t be our best now,” added Ridgefield head coach Jessica Smith. “We should be our best in November, and with the amount of work these girls are putting in, I’m confident that we will be.”