Ridgefield stays unbeaten with 2-0 win over Darien

Among those surprised that the Ridgefield High girls soccer team remains undefeated through nine games is its head coach.

"Yes, it is a little unexpected," said Iain Golding, after his team's 2-0 road victory over Darien on Monday afternoon. "We graduated such a heavy senior class, but everybody is stepping up. It's been impressive."

Ridgefield won the conference championship the past two seasons and also reached the Class LL state finals each year, losing both times to unbeaten Glastonbury teams. But with some of the best players in program history among the deep graduation departures, the Tigers weren't supposed to be nearly as formidable this fall.

So far, however, Ridgefield is not performing like a team with lowered expectations. Monday's game was the latest example, with the Tigers (7-0-2) controlling play against a Darien squad that entered with seven wins in eight games.

"They're a talented team," said Golding about the Blue Wave. "But they didn't get many clear chances today.

Following a scoreless opening half, Ridgefield went ahead just three minutes into the second half. A Darien foul in the box resulted in a penalty kick that senior defender Kathryn Barlow deposited in the back of the Blue Wave net.

Although Ridgefield continued to create scoring opportunities, the slim lead remained until Megan Klosowski added an insurance goal with just under three minutes left. Faith Arnold was credited with an assist on Klosowski's goal, which came off a cross.

The Tigers' dominance was reflected in the final stats, as Ridgefield had 21 shots on goal to Darien's six. Keeper Lauren Castle got the shutout, aided by the effort of defenders Claire Middlebrook, Anna Landler, Carolyn Donovan and Barlow.

"Everybody worked hard for each other," added Golding. "As a team, this was probably our best game of the season."

Notes: Middlebrook finished with a team-high 10 shots (nine on goal) for the Tigers. Several of those attempts came on free kicks. Caitlin Slaminko added four shots on goal for Ridgefield, and Emma Jacobson and Klosowski each had two.

Freshman forward Tasha Riek left the game with an ankle injury in the second half and did not return.