Boys lax preview: Ridgefield has state title to defend

If reverberations are still palpable from the last official game the Ridgefield High boys lacrosse team played, it's understandable.

Employing a slow-down strategy that relied on goals off time-consuming possessions, Ridgefield stunned previously unbeaten Darien, 9-8, in the Class L state finals last June. The loss ended a 76-game winning streak for the Blue Wave, who were the three-time defending state champs and ranked second nationally.

But that was then.

After losing a number of key players from last spring's 16-5 team, Ridgefield begins the 2019 season as a work in progress, according to veteran head coach Roy Colsey.

"We graduated a lot of guys who had played a lot of years," said Colsey, whose team opens against Norwalk tonight at Tiger Hollow (7 p.m.). "They had the IQ and the experience to execute a game plan like we did against Darien."

Despite the preseason uncertainty, Colsey is hopeful his team can coalesce into a legitimate postseason threat.

"We have a really strong midfield and a great goalie; those are areas we can build around," he said. "The goal is to keep getting better every day and be peaking when the playoffs start."

Ridgefield's foundation includes senior goalie Dan Parson, a Bucknell commit entering his third year as a starter. "Dan is one of the best goalies in the state," said Colsey. "With basically a new defense, it's great to have someone like Dan to organize and direct them."

The Tigers also look set in midfield, where seniors James Isaacson and Weston Carpenter and junior Ray Dearth form one of the state's strongest units. "Those three are all excellent players and they bring different things to the team," said Colsey. "They are going to be on the field a lot."

Senior Brady McSpedon, a short-stick defensive midfielder, adds another vital piece to the midfield, and juniors Trevor Soli and Max Bornstein could also contribute.

On attack, junior John Mathes is the lone returning starter. "He's got a great shot," said Colsey about Mathes. "He had a very good sophomore season."

Seniors Noah Gels and Shane Caviola and junior Quinn Caviola are among the players looking to start alongside Mathes on attack

Ridgefield's defense graduated three stalwarts in Michael Dobson, Noah Isaacson and Luke Gaydos. And junior Jack Dowd, a returning starter on close defense, has been limited by injury in the preseason.

"We've had to move a few guys who were midfielders back to defense," said Colsey. "We're looking to find a good combination."

Seniors Connor Riebling and Chris Hagele and junior Kees van Wees are possibilities to start on defense with Dowd and ninth grader Kai Prohaska (long-stick midfield), who leads a skilled freshman class.

"Kai is the real deal as a freshman," said Colsey. "There are a few other freshmen who could also contribute as the season goes along. It's a real good group."

Notes: Senior Jake Lynne and sophomore Eliot Hynes are the frontrunners to take face-offs for the Tigers.

Junior George Rioseco has returned to the team and is the backup goalie to Parson.