Girls lax preview: Talent, depth for Ridgefield
In each of the last two years, the Ridgefield High girls lacrosse team has gone to postseason places previously unreached.
Two springs ago, the Tigers made their first appearance in the FCIAC finals, falling to Darien. Last year, Ridgefield advanced to the state finals for the first time in program history, losing to New Canaan, 19-7, in the Class L championship game.
With many of its top players returning, Ridgefield will look to play in another title game this season.
"I think we're going to be strong," said Ridgefield head coach Cece Berger. "We have 17 veterans back and we only lost six seniors."
Among the small graduation group was one major talent: Caroline Curnal, an All-FCIAC, All-State and All-American midfielder now starting for Lafayette as a freshman. "She was a great player and a great leader," said Berger about Curnal, who also excelled on draws for the Tigers. "We are going to miss having her on the field."
Ridgefield's top returnees include senior midfielder/attacker Maeve Tobin and junior midfielders Caitlin Slaminko and Aly Gagnon. All three of those players made the All-FCIAC second team last season.
Back on attack are seniors Grace Egan, Karley Smith, Sophia Carnicelli, and Maddie Peters, as well as sophomore Abby Winkler.
Returning in midfield along with Tobin, Slaminko, and Gagnon are senior Gretchen Healy and juniors Bella Carrozza and Hannah Boylan. Healy and Carrozza are defensive middies.
Senior Ellie O'Connor and junior Sammy Lehaney lead a defense that also welcomes back seniors Joanna Gengo and Isabel Papa and junior Jen Paul.
And in goal the Tigers will have one of the FCIAC's best in junior Lexi Held, who enters her third season as a starter.
Four sophomores — attackers Riley Peters, Norah McNeece and Mary Hage and defender Faith Arnold — should also contribute, while freshman Aerin Krys (attack) might also make an impact.
One question mark for Ridgefield will be replacing Curnal on draws. Riley Peters, Boylan and Arnold are all possibilities at the crucial position, according to Berger.
"We're different than last year, but I don't think we are any less talented," said Berger. "We have more diversity on attack, and we have a strong crew of defensive midfielders.
"The energy that the girls have brought is great," added Berger. "I know they are determined to keep the program moving forward."
Notes: Tobin, Lehaney and O'Connor are Ridgefield's captains.
Tobin (Temple), Lehaney (Bucknell), Egan (Ohio Wesleyan), Gengo (Haverford), and Slaminko (Cornell) will play in college.
The Tigers open the season next Tuesday (April 2) at home against Norwalk (4 p.m.).
Ridgefield finished the 2018 season with a 14-7 record.