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When Rob Coloney took over the Ridgefield girls basketball program before this season, he kept his expectations in check.

Coloney was hoping for improvement each week and a team he could be proud of at the end of the season.

He was not expecting to make the FCIAC championship game.

His team surprised not only him but also the rest of the FCIAC, going from the No. 7 seed all the way to the finals after beating No. 3 Trumbull, 41-38, in the semifinals Tuesday night at Trumbull High School.

Ridgefield now gets one more chance to shock everyone when it faces top-seed Staples in the championship game Thursday night (7 p.m.) back at Trumbull High.

“We have come so incredibly far,” Ridgefield senior Megan Klosowski said. “It is never easy, especially senior year, with a new coach. But he has done a great job establishing our program with respect and leadership and encouragement. I am so blessed to be part of it; I really am.”

The game was tied 27-27 after three quarters, but Ridgefield was able to take the lead on the opening possession of the fourth and hold it the rest of the way.

The Tigers made nine free throws in the fourth quarter to stay ahead.

Trumbull had the ball under the Ridgefield basket with 3.6 seconds remaining but could not get off a shot before the final buzzer.

“I give Ridgefield a lot of credit. I thought they are a senior-dominated team and it showed in the fourth quarter,” Trumbull coach Steve Tobitsch said. “They were really ball strong and they protected the ball each possession. I thought we got really sloppy with the basketball. They got a couple extra possessions off of offensive rebounds and that was the difference in a three-point game.”

Cali Stietzel led Ridgefield with 14 points, including a clutch 3-pointer and three big free throws in the fourth quarter. She was also on the floor all night scrapping for loose balls.

Katie Flynn added 12 points and Kate Wagner had seven points.

“I love this group,” Coloney said. “I didn’t know if it was going to be easy to get back into coaching but they made it so special. We never talked about goals for a season ... we just talked about being there for each other and battling through adversity.

“When you think about the different ways we have won and lost this year, I am so proud of them for battling. Trumbull had a seven-point lead at one point and we could have folded, but they didn’t.”