Girls lax: Ridgefield wins FCIAC quarterfinal in two OTs

During her four years, Kaitlyn McMullan has scored a slew of goals for the Ridgefield High girls lacrosse team.

None bigger than the one with a minute and 12 seconds left in the second overtime Thursday afternoon.

McMullan took a pass from Caroline Curnal in front of the Greenwich net, spun to her left and (while tumbling to the ground) sent a low shot past goalie Sloane Loveless. The goal gave sixth-seed Ridgefield a 15-14 victory over third-seed Greenwich in an FCIAC quarterfinal game at Greenwich High.

The Tigers (13-4) will now face second-seed New Canaan in the conference semifinals on Monday evening at Norwalk High School (time TBA). New Canaan edged seventh-seed Fairfield Warde, 10-9, in another quarterfinal Thursday.

Ridgefield needed two significant rallies to eventually send the game to overtime. Trailing 7-3 with 7:29 left in the first half, the Tigers reeled off four straight goals to tie the score at the break.

After Greenwich (13-3) opened the second half with three consecutive goals, Ridgefield put together another rally to forge an 11-11 tie when Curnal controlled a face-off and scored. McMullan and Curnal then converted to put the Tigers ahead, 13-11, with 7:58 remaining.

The Cardinals scored twice to knot the score at 13-13 before freshman Caitlin Slaminko cut inside on her defender and powered a shot past Loveless for a 14-13 Ridgefield lead with 3:05 to play.

Greenwich then forced a turnover and scored to re-tie the game with 1:06 left.

Off the ensuing face-off, Curnal picked up a loose ball, sprinted toward the Greenwich goal and drew a penalty. But Loveless saved Curnal's free-position shot, and Ridgefield freshman goalie Lexi Held made a nice stop to send the game into overtime.

Held was the star of the first three-minute overtime, making three crucial saves to keep the game tied. The most impressive came with 14 seconds remaining, as Held stonewalled Greenwich's Maggie O'Gorman on a free-position attempt.

Ridgefield won the face-off to start the second overtime but turned the ball over behind the Greenwich net with 2:12 remaining. Off the restart, McMullan and Curnal used a double team to force a turnover, with Curnal recovering the groundball and getting fouled.

The Tigers nearly re-gifted possession to Greenwich, as a pass was broken up and the ball hit the turf. But Julia Realander beat a Cardinal player to the groundball and sent a pass to Slaminko, who was fouled. Slaminko's free-postition shot was saved by Loveless, but Curnal was there to gather the rebound and reboot the Ridgefield attack. A few seconds later, Curnal got the ball inside to McMullan for the game-winner.

"In that situation, you just have to finish on that," said McMullan after the game. "It's my last FCIACs ... with the ball in my stick I knew I had to finish it."

Notes: McMullan finished with four goals for Ridgefield. Curnal added three goals and two assists while Annie Hage, Katie Hoban, Lucie Picard, and Slaminko contributed two goals apiece. Bella Carrozza assisted on one of Hoban's goals

Held had 13 saves in goal for the Tigers.

Hage accounted for the game's most impressive individual effort with just over five minutes left in the opening half and Greenwich leading 7-3. Hage forced a turnover on a pass in front of the Ridgefield goal, scooped up the loose ball, and sprinted past the Greenwich defense before sending a left-handed shot past Loveless.

Curnal won seven of nine draw controls in the second half.

Erika Bloes and Genevieve DeWinter each had four goals to lead Greenwich. Paige Finneran added three goals while Loveless made nine saves.

The game was broadcast on the HAN Network, the parent company of The Ridgefield Press. To watch the game click here.