Ridgefield field hockey team wins state opener

After losing in the first round of the conference tournament, the Ridgefield High field hockey team wrote a different outcome for itself in Monday's state tourney opener.

Dominating from the start, 13th-seed Ridgefield defeated 20th-seed Fairfield Ludlowe, 3-0, in a Class L qualifying-round game at Tiger Hollow.

Ridgefield will now play at fourth-seed Enfield in the second round on Wednesday at 4 p.m.. Enfield (13-2-1-0) received a first-round bye.

Against Ludlowe, the Tigers scored twice in the opening half and added another goal in the second half.

“We came out tonight knowing we needed headway at more offensive opportunities, and we were definitely able to do that,” said Ridgefield head coach Jessica Smith, whose team improved to 9-5-1-2. “We kept pushing to our offensive players and they were able to find the openings they needed.”

A series of connecting passes led to the Tigers' first goal. Junior Bella Carrozza initiated the sequence by sending the ball wide to her younger sister, freshman Julia Carrozza, who then played a pass across to the opposite side of the Ludlowe cage. Classmate Aerin Krys received the delivery and reverse-swept a shot into the goal for a 1-0 Ridgefield lead.

“Bella and Julia set me up perfectly for that goal and I couldn’t let them down,” said Krys. “That goal and the game as a whole was a team effort; we wanted to start out the CIAC tournament on a good note.”

It only took about 10 minutes for the next Ridgefield score. Bella Carrozza sent a hard pass to Cate Irving, who finished with a beautiful reverse slap shot that sailed into the top-right corner of the Ludlowe goal.

Ahead 2-0 in the second half, the Tigers settled into their passes, rarely letting the ball stray onto their side of the field.

Just four minutes into the second half, Irving tacked on her second by taking advantage of commotion in the circle and sending a shot past Ludlowe goalie Ally Schwartz.

Ridgefield defenders Bailey Harriott, Ellie O’Connor and Maddie Peters secured the shutout from there, limiting the Falcons' scoring chances. Ludlowe's best opportunity came with five minutes remaining, as Evelyn Hogarth’s long run ended with a blast that ricocheted away off of Irving’s stick.