Boys lax: Ridgefield tops Greenwich in FCIAC semis

Almost exactly 24 hours after the Ridgefield High girls lacrosse team booked its spot in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference finals, the Ridgefield boys team followed suit.

Scoring three unanswered goals in the final eight minutes, the third-seeded Tigers defeated second-seed Greenwich, 10-7, in the conference semifinals Tuesday evening at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk.

In order to win the second FCIAC title in program history, Ridgefield (15-3) will now need to do something that no other team has been able to for nearly 50 games: Beat unbeaten Darien, the country's top-ranked team.

The Blue Wave (18-0) extended their winning streak to 49 games by routing fifth-seed Wilton, 17-3, in the second semifinal Wednesday. Darien is the three-time reigning FCIAC champion.

Ridgefield had to overcome several small Greenwich leads throughout Wednesday's semifinal. The Tigers trailed 4-3 at halftime and fell behind by two goals early in the third quarter. Back-to-back goals from Trey Soli and Reid Kagan tied the score at 5-5 before the Cardinals went ahead 6-5 on Jack Feda's goal late in the period.

"We've been in those situations when we can't grab a hold of the lead all year," said Ridgefield junior attackman Reid Kagan, who scored a team-high three goals. "We really wanted this one because we lost a tough game to Greenwich in the regular season (8-7 in overtime), so we just battled through and never doubted ourselves."

The Ridgefield defense then began a series of superb plays that forced bad shots or turnovers. With under two minutes left in the third quarter, Seth Boehle stick-checked the ball away from a Greenwich player on the right side of the Tigers' goal. A missed shot led to a potential transition opportunity for the Cardinals, but Soli and Boehle combined for a double team that put the ball on the turf.

Luke Gaydos quickly shuttled the ball to Greg Gatto, who sprinted past midfield and fed Dawson Muller, who found Kagan open on the doorstep for a goal that tied the score at 6-6 with 50 seconds left in the third period.

The Tigers regained possession, and Kagan scored as time expired, putting Ridgefield ahead, 7-6, going into the final 12 minutes. Greenwich players claimed that Kagan's shot came after the period ended, but, after a brief meeting, the officials allowed the goal.

Greenwich face-off maestro Bailey Savio won the opening draw of the fourth quarter, setting up teammate John Lawrence for the tying goal just 10 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Following an errant Greenwich pass, Muller had a shot saved and the Cardinals regained possession. Ridgefield's Michael Dobson (a beast all game) forced a turnover that fellow defender Noah Isaacson recovered, and — after Gatto's shot was saved — freshman Ray Dearth made a textbook stick-check from behind to dispossess a Greenwich player, who then committed a foul.

Nine seconds later, the Tigers were back in front, as Gatto bounced a shot past Greenwich goalie Andrew Triscari with 7:51 to play.

The Cardinals (12-6) misfired on two shots but got the ball back when Triscari made a stunning save on Weston Carpenter's shot with 2:46 left.

Ridgefield goalie Dan Parson then came up with a nice stop of his own, and Drew Fowler pushed the lead to 9-7 off a restart by eluding two Greenwich defenders behind the net and tucking a shot into an empty goal.

The Cardinals' last chance ended when Luke Gaydos stick-checked the ball away from Feda behind the Ridgefield goal. Muller then provided the final goal off a pass from Fowler with just 22 seconds remaining.

"It's a game of runs," said Kagan, "and we just made the right plays at the right time and came out on top."

"Our goal from the beginning of the season wasn't to win an FCIAC or state championship, but to get better every day," said Ridgefield head coach Roy Colsey. "These guys have certainly done that and I'm proud of them."

Notes: Kagan finished with three goals for the Tigers. Gatto and Carpenter each added two goals, while Muller, Fowler and Soli contributed one goal apiece.

Gatto was credited with three assists, and Kagan, Fowler and Muller had one assist apiece.

Feda had five goals for Greenwich, but four of those came in the opening half. Ridgefield freshman Luke McGarrity shadowed Feda in the second half and limited his scoring chances.

Opposing goalies Parson and Triscari each made 12 saves in the contest.

Savio won 17 of the game's 21 face-offs.

The Tigers will be playing in the conference finals for the sixth time in the last 10 years. Ridgefield is 1-4 in its previous FCIAC title games, winning its lone championship with a victory over Darien in 2009.

Press Sports Reporter Jimmy Green contributed to this story.