Ridgefield storms past Conard in state opener

Six unanswered goals in the second half broke open a close game as the Ridgefield High girls lacrosse team defeated Conard, 18-8, in the first round of the Class L state tournament on Wednesday at Tiger Hollow.

The sixth-seeded Tigers will now meet a familiar foe, third-seed Greenwich, in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 5 p.m. in Greenwich. The Cardinals, who routed 14th-seed McMahon, 17-5, in the opening round, have beaten Ridgefield twice this season, including a recent 13-8 victory in the conference quarterfinals.

In the win over Conard, sophomore Caitlin Slaminko continued her scoring onslaught, finishing with a game-high seven goals for the Tigers.

Caroline Curnal added four goals, while Maeve Tobin and Mae Briody each contributed three goals and Lauren Whalen had one goal to round out the Ridgefield scoring.

The Tigers led by just three goals, 8-5, at halftime before taking control early in the second half.

“We finally became successful in transitioning the ball down the field,” said Ridgefield head coach Cece Berger. “[Once] we started relaying passes to each other, we got the openings we needed.”

Both Curnal and Briody capitalized on breakaways in the second half, while Slaminko found seams in the Conard defense to score.

“This game was never ours for the taking, and I had to consistently keep myself in the mindset to keep persevering and keep putting points on the board,” said Slaminko. “My teammates continued to give me an opening, and I knew I needed to take advantage of their efforts.”

“We experimented with some new [players] at the draw, and were able to find success as we utilized everyone’s skill set,” said Berger about her team's dominant second half. “These girls are all well-rounded, and if we continue to benefit from everyone’s individual contributions, we can combine to be a real threat in these next games."

Notes: Ridgefield goalie Lexi Held finished with eight saves.

Kate Shaffer had a team-high four goals for Conard, which ended the season with a 10-7 record.