Ridgefield beats Wilton in state opener
Once the state tournament rankings and pairings were announced last week, one question loomed for the Ridgefield field hockey team: Could the Tigers defeat Wilton for a third time this season?
After 10 years of heartbreak and losses (a few in overtime), Ridgefield had finally broken through with a 1-0 victory over the Warriors during the regular season. The Tigers then added another 1-0 triumph in the conference quarterfinals.
But to keep its season going, Ridgefield needed one more win over Wilton in the opening round of the state tournament.
Playing on their home field, the Tigers got the job done Wednesday afternoon.
Sophomore forward Aerin Krys scored two first-half goals as seventh-seed Ridgefield topped 10th-seed Wilton, 2-0, in a Class L first-round game. The Tigers (15-2-0-2) will now host another FCIAC rival, 15th-seed Greenwich, in the quarterfinals on Friday at 4:30.
“Beating a team three times in a row is tough, but I had no doubt we could do it,” Krys said. “We had a tough go in FCIACs [a 3-1 semifinal loss to Staples] and wanted to be playing our best field hockey tonight — I really think we did that.”
Wilton senior standout Olivia Hahn controlled the field from the beginning, working stickhandling runs towards the Ridgefield goal. It was Krys, however, who opened the scoring. Collecting a long pass from classmate Bella Carrozza, Krys sent a shot past Wilton goalie Megan Kaeyer.
Krys made it 2-0 by converting a penalty stroke after being fouled by a Wilton player while on a breakaway. Krys lifted the ball into the top right corner of the goal, out of Kaeyer’s reach.
The Ridgefield backline and goalie Lisa van Gompel were tested early in the second half on five consecutive Wilton corner plays. Van Gompel made several key saves and senior defender Bailey Harriott added several good plays to keep the Warriors scoreless.
Wilton had two more corners in the final two minutes, but Van Gompel’s quick deflection denied the first corner and the Warriors were unable to get off a shot on the second.
“It’s been fun to see how we’ve improved against Wilton this season,” said Ridgefield head coach Jessica Smith. “Even with a slower second half [offensively] we were able to fall back on a solid defensive line.”
Notes: Greenwich upset second-seed Hall, 1-0, in another Class L first-round contest Wednesday. Ridgefield defeated Greenwich, 4-0, in the final game of the regular season.