Girls lax preview: Ridgefield ready for more success

A program on the rise rose last spring.

The steadily improving Ridgefield High girls lacrosse team took its seat at the adult table in 2016, reaching the conference semifinals and the state quarterfinals and ending the year with a 16-3-1 record. Among the highlights was a first-ever victory over traditional FCIAC and state power Wilton.

Several of Ridgefield's top players have graduated, most notably goalie Maddie Burns and midfielder Kimmy Weinstock and defender Sarah Strange. Burns and Weinstock made the All-FCIAC and All-State first teams, while Strange was chosen to the All-FCIAC second team and the All-State first team.

Despite the departures, Ridgefield head coach Cece Berger doesn't foresee a regression this season.

"We have 11 seniors and some promising underclassmen," said Berger, whose team plays its season opener today (April 4) at home (4 p.m.) against Westhill. "The core group has been together for a while, so I think we're going to be good again."

Led by senior All-State attackman Kaitlyn McMullan, Ridgefield's offense could be particularly devastating. "Kaitlyn is a four-year varsity starter who has been working hard with the younger players," said Berger. "She will be a big part of our attack. Teams are going to focus on Kaitlyn."

Senior Julia Realander should also spark Ridgefield's attack, along with classmates Caeleigh Tannian and Cate Costigan and junior Katie Hoban. "We have a bunch of people who can score," said Berger. "It's not just Kaitlyn."

Another strength is midfield, where seniors Ann Hage and Lucie Picard are joined by highly touted freshman Caitlin Slaminko. Hage and Picard were standouts last season, displaying the ability to score goals and play tough defense.

Junior Caroline Curnal and sophomore Maeve Tobin will handle the draws for the Tigers and also contribute to the offense. Curnal, an All-State volleyball and basketball player, is extremely athletic and strong. "She really improved on draws, and she is difficult for teams to stop around the goal."

Seniors Fair Smith, Alyssa Bonanno and Aneeka Britto, juniors Lexi Pass and Erika Linke, and sophomore Karley Smith look to lead the Ridgefield defense. "It's a good unit," said Berger. "They have played well in the pre-season."

The Tigers' biggest question mark comes in goal, as junior Robyn Karashik and freshman Lexi Held take over for Burns, who is now playing at West Point for the Army women's team. "Maddie was an amazing goalie, and it's hard to replace someone like that," said Berger. "But Robyn Karashik is up from the JV and has improved, and Lexi Held is a promising freshman."

Notes: Ridgefield's roster also includes seniors Lauren Ahern and Meaghan O'Hara.

McMullan scored her 100th career goal last season.

The Tigers lost to New Canaan in the FCIAC semifinals and Greenwich (12-11 in overtime) in the Class L quarterfinals.