Staples edges Ridgefield in FCIAC girls soccer semis

There will be no chance for a three-peat.

Ashley Wright's goal off a cross with eight minutes left in the opening half was the difference as Staples defeated two-time defending champion Ridgefield, 1-0, in an FCIAC girls soccer semifinal game Wednesday night at Wilton High School.

Top-seed Staples (14-3-1) will now play second-seed St. Joseph in the finals on Friday night at 7 at Fairfield Ludlowe. St. Joseph lost to Ridgefield in the last two conference title games.

Ridgefield (12-3-3), the fourth seed in the FCIAC playoffs, will now focus on the Class LL state tournament, which starts next week. The Tigers reached the state finals the last two seasons, losing to Glastonbury both times.

In Wednesday's semifinal, Ridgefield produced the first serious chance of the opening half when Emma Jacobson controlled the rebound of a set piece by Claire Middlebrook and sent a shot above the crossbar in the 29th minute.

Three minutes later, though, Staples got the game's lone goal. Off a well-orchestrated transition play, Wright converted a cross from Arianna Gerig, deflecting the ball past Ridgefield goalie Lauren Castle (five saves).

With a minute left in the half, Ridgefield striker Caitlin Slaminko took a free kick from the corner that was wrapped up by Staples goalkeeper Anna Sivinski (eight saves).

Ten minutes into the second half, Castle made a difficult save after a Staples free kick was redirected by a header.

Still trailing 1-0 with time dwindling, Ridgefield’s backline began to push forward on set pieces and runs. But Staples' defense held firm, consistently denying the Tigers.

With six minutes remaining, a Middlebrook free kick from near midfield led to a scrum at the top of the penalty box. A foul was called on Staples, and after some discussion on whether the infraction occurred within the penalty area, the referees spotted the ball just outside of the box. Middlebrook took the free kick, sending it just high on Ridgefield’s best scoring chance of the night.

“We’re all really disappointed that we got knocked out of FCIACs because we’ve worked so hard to get to this point...” said Jacobson. “We performed as best we could tonight, but unfortunately it didn’t work out how we wanted. We hope to use this loss to push us forward and bring home a victory in states, which has never been done by our team before.”