Ridgefield players part of NCAA lax tournament teams

As the NCAA men’s and women’s lacrosse tournaments pick up steam this weekend, one annual rite is repeating itself: Ridgefield’s representation.

This season, nine players with Ridgefield roots are part of tournament teams. Five of those are on Division I men’s teams, with two on Division II women’s teams, and two more on Division III men’s teams.

Seeded first in the men’s Division I tournament, the University of Maryland includes junior midfielder Will Bonaparte, a former All-FCIAC, All-State and All-American choice at Ridgefield. The Terrapins reached the Division I finals last year before losing to Denver.

Bonaparte has played in eight games so far this season, collecting 17 face-off victories with a win percentage of .383. During his three years at Maryland, Bonaparte has played a total of 25 games, collecting 35 ground balls.

Maryland (12-3) begins its championship quest Sunday against the Bryant Bulldogs, who also sport a former RHS standout: Senior attackman Brett Baker. The 6'1" Baker is having his best season as a Bulldog, starting 17 of 18 games and scoring 14 goals to go along with three assists. Bryant defeated Monmouth in a play-in game Wednesday.

Freshman midfielder Peter Dearth enters his first NCAA tournament with the second-seeded Syracuse Orange (12-2). At Ridgefield High, Dearth received All-FCIAC and All-State honors as a junior and a senior and All-American honors as a senior.

Dearth has played in 14 games for Syracuse this season, scoring four goals and adding one assist. The Orange play 16th-seed Yale in a first-round game Sunday at home.

Sophomore defenseman Paul Volante is one of two Loyola Greyhounds from Ridgefield. Volante was named to the All-FCIAC and All-State teams as a junior and senior at RHS and garnered All-America accolades as a senior. Volante has made 13 appearances for Loyola in 2017, including five starts on defense, with seven ground balls and three forced turnovers.

Sophomore midfielder Bobby Austin, Loyola’s second Ridgefield native, spent his prep years at McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Md., and St. Christopher's School in Richmond, Va. In two years at McDonogh, he scored 47 goals and had 30 assists. This year for Loyola, Austin has played in four games, making one start.

Loyola (10-5) travels to Ohio State for a first-round game Sunday.

Two Ridgefield High grads — Sam Boehle and Tim Cozens — are members of teams that qualified for the NCAA Division III men’s tournament.

Cozens, a senior midfielder, was part of the Springfield College squad that lost to Amherst, 14-11, in a second-round game earlier this week. Cozens scored a goal in the contest and had a ground ball and a caused turnover.

Cozens finished his collegiate career with 26 goals and six assists in 39 games. He also scavenged 44 ground balls and tallied 104 shots, 52% of which were on goal.

Boehle and St. Lawrence defeated Montclair State, 19-6, in the second round earlier this week and will now play SUNY Cortland in the third round today. In 29 career games for the Saints, Boehle, a junior long-stick midfielder, has three goals (on three shots) and two assists. He has caused 12 turnovers and picked up 13 ground balls.

Two more Ridgefield High graduates are competing in the NCAA Division II women’s tournament.

Sarah Kaiser is a sophomore midfielder for Hamilton College (12-5), which faces Regis in a second-round game Sunday. Kaiser has played in eight games this year for Hamilton, recording four ground balls, two draw controls, and two caused turnovers. Kaiser finished her Ridgefield career as the seventh-ranked player in Connecticut.

Senior Liana Mathias has had a big season for the Wesleyan Cardinals, who enter the Division II tourney with an 11-5 record. Mathias has spearheaded the Wesleyan offense with 28 goals and 15 assists for 43 points. In 60 career games, Mathias has 72 goals and 37 assists for 109 points for Wesleyan, which plays Ithaca in the second-round of the Division II tournament on Sunday.

At Ridgefield High, Mathias compiled 112 points, scoring 86 goals and earning 26 assists.

If Wesleyan and Hamilton win their opening games, Mathias and Kaiser will get the chance to meet again in the round of 16.