Ridgefield outlasts Staples in battle of unbeatens
RIDGEFIELD -- Two undefeated girls lacrosse teams vying to challenge the top tier for an FCIAC championship faced off on Thursday at Tiger Hollow and the result was an evenly-matched battle.
Host Ridgefield was able to grind out a win in the second half, earning a hard-fought 11-8 victory. Kaitlyn McMullan scored four goals while Kimmy Weinstock added two goals and three assists for Ridgefield, which improved to 4-0.
"We regrouped at halftime," said Ridgefield coach Cece Berger. "This was our first big game of the year; we told them what we needed to do and the nerves settled down."
McMullan scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with 20:35 left, breaking a 6-6 deadlock as part of 4-0 run by the Tigers. Ally Myers added a goal in transition with 6:55 left to complete the scoring and wrap up the win.
Staples (2-1) took an early 2-0 lead behind goals from Jenna McNicholas and Abby Najarian, only for Ridgefield to strike back to even the score. The teams would trade goals to 4-4 before Staples inched ahead with two goals in 30 seconds late in the first half. Weinstock scored with 34 seconds left to give the Tigers momentum heading into the final 25 minutes.
"I think we didn't control our possession in the way we typically do," Staples coach Pete Najarian said. "We got in a mindset that we had to rush and that allowed for some forced shots. With 12-and-a-half-minutes left it was a two-goal game and we got impatient. That's the wrong time to do that."
The Wreckers had three yellow cards and were unable to get any rhythm going against the Ridgefield defense. Tigers goalie Maddie Burns made nine saves.
"The defense worked really hard," Berger said. "I told them in pregame the harder they worked on defense the more we would get the ball on offense. They made some big stops and (Burns) made three or four big saves late."
The Tigers expertly managed the last eight minutes, refraining from firing shots in order to maintain possessions. Staples did force a pair of turnovers in that span, but Ridgefield got the ball back after errant decisions in the offensive zone.
"They know; our motto is believe in the stall," Berger said. "They know that a win is our mission and not to get the goals. It's tempting to want to go in and do it; if we can just control it we wanted the team win."
Ridgefield 11, Staples 8
STAPLES 5 3--8
RIDGEFIELD 6 5--11
Records: Staples 2-1, 2-1 FCIAC; Ridgefield 4-0, 4-0.
Scoring: S--Abby Najarian (1g), Sam Kratky (1g), Paige Murray (3g), Christine Taylor (1g, 1a), Colleen Jenna McNicholas (2g), Nicki Najarian (1a); R--Kaitlyn McMullan (4g), Kimmy Weinstock (2g, 3a), Megan Hoban (1g), Ally Myers (1g), Sarah Kaiser (3g, 1a). Goalies: S--Emma Boland (7 saves); Alexa Moro (2 saves) R--Maddie Burns (9 saves).