Glass nets winner as Ridgefield clinches top seed

Playing for the top seed going into the conference playoffs, the Ridgefield High boys soccer team got goals from seniors Alex Glass and JT Siano to end the regular season with a 2-1 victory over Fairfield Warde in Monday's Senior Night game at Tiger Hollow.

Ridgefield (12-3-1) will now start the postseason by hosting eighth-seed Danbury (7-4-5) in an FCIAC quarterfinal game Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Tiger Hollow. The winner advances to the semifinals next Monday at Fairfield Ludlowe.

Head coach Phil Bergen started the Senior Night festivities with a nod to the graduating class, filling out his starting lineup with seniors who are typically overshadowed on this year’s talent-rich team. Fairfield Warde had other plans, capitalizing on a miscommunication between the defense and sophomore goalkeeper Ray Dearth to net a header off a corner kick for a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game.

Minutes later, Bergen put his regular starters in the game, but the offense failed to establish any sort of rhythm in the first half. Fairfield Warde largely controlled the pace of play, holding the advantage in shots on goal and time of possession.

With 12 minutes remaining in the half, Dearth came up big, registering two saves in quick succession to keep the Tigers within one goal of Warde.

In the second half, Ridgefield got back to business as usual. In the 52nd minute, senior Christian DeVivo took a long Dearth punt to the Fairfield Warde end line and delivered a cross that Siano finished with ease to tie the score at 1-1.

From that point on, the Tigers' offense surged, with wingers Jack Liguori and DeVivo making deep runs into the Fairfield Warde defense, nearly coming away with the go-ahead goal multiple times.

With eight minutes remaining, senior Niels van Beek went on a brilliant dribbling run, fending off multiple Warde defenders before unleashing a left-footed shot. The ball was deflected by the Warde goalkeeper to Glass, who slotted his shot past the keeper and into the back of the net for his first goal of the season and a 2-1 Ridgefield lead.

Glass, the focal point of the team’s offense a year ago, has taken on less of a scoring role since Siano’s return from the Beachside Academy program.

"Playing striker last year, I was the key part of the offense. This year, I play center attacking mid and I have less of a role in scoring," said Glass. "I’ve learned to get more involved with the offense, making runs into the top third of the field and connecting with our striker, JT (Siano)."

“I’m proud of the way the team battled back after going down in the first half," added senior midfielder Will Coffin. "We worked hard to earn the number-one seed in the FCIAC and it’s an honor. It was a perfect game to end the season, but we are looking forward to transferring this energy to the playoffs and being serious contenders."