Ridgefield boys lax heads to semis with win over Greenwich

Playing in just his second game this season, senior midfielder Greg Gatto demonstrated his importance to the Ridgefield High boys lacrosse team. And, at the same time, his teammates showed why Gatto’s extended absence (due to a broken wrist) might have made the Tigers more dangerous.

Taking control early, Ridgefield defeated sixth-seed Greenwich, 15-8, in an FCIAC quarterfinal game Monday at Tiger Hollow. Third-seed Ridgefield is scheduled to play second-seed New Canaan in the semifinals Wednesday. 

Gatto’s presence has helped open up the Ridgefield attack and created new wrinkles in an offense that looks as though it will be difficult for other teams to defend.

“We’re just trying to get him involved and get him acclimated to being back on the field,” said Ridgefield head coach Roy Colsey about Gatto, an All-FCIAC, All-State and All-American selection last year. “He did a better job today than in [his] first game [against] Ludlowe. I thought he did a better job today of letting the game come to him.”

After 15 games without Gatto, some other Ridgefield players have developed into more prominent roles.

“Guys have fallen into roles and have learned to do what they need to do to win games,” said Colsey. “I think it’s going to make us a stronger team because guys have had to step up and score goals and make plays in his absence. Now that he’s back, we have all those players plus him.”

That group includes sophomores Ray Dearth and John Mathes, who each scored four goals for the Tigers in Monday’s triumph.

Gatto added two goals, and Dawson Muller, James Isaacson, Noah Gels, Chris Cozens, and Weston Carpenter had one goal apiece. Muller also contributed a team-high five assists.

On the defensive side, Ridgefield delivered another strong performance. In the last 10 games, Ridgefield has allowed double-digit goals just once (in an 11-6 loss to Darien).

“Our defense is very smart overall,” said senior Noah Isaacson. “We all have an understanding of what we need to do to be successful and how to do it. We’re very good at adjusting to what the offense gives us quickly, and I think that comes because of the chemistry that we have together.”

Also excelling on defense for the Tigers were Luke Gaydos — who created numerous turnovers and constantly interrupted the flow of the Greenwich offense — Michael Dobson and Jack Dowd.

Goalie Dan Parson made five saves, including a few denials in the first quarter that helped Ridgefield pull away.

Gatto opened the scoring with 7:43 remaining in the first quarter. Off a Greenwich turnover during a fast break, Muller got the ball and found Gatto for a 1-0 lead.

The Tigers won the ensuing faceoff, and James Isaacson scored just over a minute later on a hard shot from the middle of the box.

After Greenwich tied the game, Dearth was able to double the Ridgefield lead by scoring from the top of the box and then converting from the corner on an assist from Muller.

Muller then scored off a spin move and bounce shot with 10.7 seconds left in the quarter to push Ridgefield’s lead to 5-2.

The second quarter belonged to Mathes. The sophomore attackman scored all four of his goals in the period, including one with 35 seconds left that gave the Tigers an 11-4 halftime lead. Carpenter and Gatto also scored for Ridgefield inn the second quarter.

The Tigers slowed the pace of play in the third quarter, getting goals from Dearth and Gels. Greenwich also scored twice in the period and may have scored a third time if not for a spectacular play by Dearth, who blocked a shot on a fast break with eight seconds remaining.

Cozens began the scoring in the fourth quarter after curling around the net and converting off a nice shot off with 10:31 left.

Greenwich mounted a mini-comeback to close within 14-8 with just under eight minutes remaining before Dearth ended the scoring off an assist from Muller.