Ridgefield boys lax team bashes Hall, 14-2, in state quarterfinals

Once the postseason begins, it's common to hear talk about how teams just need to survive and advance. On Saturday afternoon, however, the Ridgefield High boys lacrosse team changed the phrase to annihilate and advance.

Scoring 12 unanswered goals in the first half, the sixth-seeded Tigers destroyed third-seed Hall, 14-2, in a Class L state quarterfinal game in West Hartford.

Ridgefield now gets the chance to settle a score when it plays seventh-seed Glastonbury in the semifinals on Wednesday (June 6) at a site and time to be announced. Glastonbury defeated the Tigers, 14-9, in the quarterfinals last season.

On Saturday at Hall, Ridgefield had its most impressive overall game in the last few weeks.

“We were able to get through without any injuries and had a lot of guys get in and play a good number of minutes who normally don’t get the chance,” said head coach Roy Colsey, whose team is now 14-5 this year.

Five players combined to do all the Ridgefield scoring. Weston Carpenter had four goals, while Greg Gatto and John Mathes each added three goals and Dawson Muller and Ray Dearth contributed two goals apiece.

“We were just in the right mindset today,” said Muller. “We knew we had to get the win or we were going home, so we didn't want to leave anything to chance. We took advantage of the opportunities early, which boosted us to a quick lead and from there we never looked back.”

On the defensive end, Ridgefield gave a trademark performance and held Hall scoreless for the first three quarters. Leading the effort were close defensemen Noah Isaacson, Michael Dobson and Jack Dowd, along with long-stick midfielder Luke Gaydos.

Goalie Dan Parson made 10 saves and face-off specialist Chris D'Entrone won 11 draws, allowing Ridgefield to control the ball.

“We just went into the game knowing we had to start fast and come out aggressive,” said Gaydos. “Chris (D'Entrone) helped us a lot by winning faceoffs and keeping most of the possession time with our offense, but we were able to get the [defensive] matchups we wanted to and forced tough shots on goal.”

Signs of a rout appeared early. Dearth opened the scoring just 40 seconds into the game off of a run in the middle of the box, and fellow sophomore John Mathes added the second goal 36 seconds later when he used a stutter step to score from a few yards outside the crease.

Ridgefield’s defense created numerous turnovers in the opening quarter and constantly pressured the Hall attackmen to the point where the hosts couldn’t get off an uncontested shot.

Gatto made it 3-0 with 5:29 remaining in the opening quarter. Muller picked up the ball on the outside of the box and sent a pass to Gatto cutting through the middle. Gatto then put a shot in the top of the net for the score.

Goals from Carpenter (off a spin move), Muller (on an assist from Mathes) and Carpenter again pushed the Tigers' lead to 6-0 before Gatto supplied the final goal of the quarter with 11.1 seconds left.

It was more of the same in the second quarter, as two goals from Mathes and one apiece from Carpenter, Dearth, and Muller put Ridgefield ahead 12-0 at halftime.

Parson made a few key saves on Hall fast-break opportunities to keep the hosts scoreless at the break.

Most of the second half was played with a running clock, and Ridgefield slowed the pace with long possessions. Carpenter's fourth goal gave the Tigers a 13-0 lead with 9:39 remaining in the third quarter, and Hall's frustration showed when one of its players received a three-minute penalty for a violent hit with four minutes to go.

When Gatto scored with 10:25 left in the final quarter most of Ridgefield's starters were pulled. Hand then avoided a shutout with a pair of late goals.

The Tigers will now focus on getting past Glastonbury and reaching the Class L title game (against either top-seed Darien or fourth-seed New Canaan).

“I’m excited about it. It’ll be great to see them [Glastonbury] again and our guys will be ready for the challenge,” said Colsey. “We’ll leave no rocks unturned (in preparation).”