NEW CANAAN -- Although each team has all but locked up a spot in the FCIAC tournament, Thursday night's clash between the Ridgefield and New Canaan boys lacrosse teams provided the perfect opportunity for one team to gain momentum as it gears up for the postseason. And it was New Canaan which seized that momentum with a 10-5 victory in its eighth consecutive win.
Behind a dominant 6-0 run that started midway through the third quarter and lasted until the game was out of reach, New Canaan turned a 4-4 deadlock into a 10-4 advantage. The first three of those goals were scored by Matt Blasco, Puck Richardson and Peter Kraus with Michael Bossidy assisting on the last two. Bossidy then capped off New Canaan's 6-0 run by scoring three consecutive goals to open the fourth quarter.
"We had a couple transition opportunities and we scored some quick ones," New Canaan coach Alex Whitten said. "We told our guys they needed to handle the ball and play with confidence and that would allow them to get opportunities. We were getting shots (in the first half), but we needed to score and it happened in the second half."
Equally impressive as New Canaan's sudden offensive fireworks was its stout defense, led by Eric Persky, Hunter Budd and Kevin McDonough. The Rams (11-3, 8-2 FCIAC) didn't even permit the Tigers (11-3, 7-2) to take a shot until just over a minute remained in the first quarter.
"They were just the better team. Usually, when I watch a game, there are things I can point to that went wrong, but we just couldn't generate offense," Ridgefield coach Roy Colsey said. "Their goalie played great and they won every battle. They won the groundball battle, the faceoff battle and the goaltending battle."
New Canaan goalie Tom Carey not only protected New Canaan's early advantage, he actually increased it. With the Rams up 1-0 on a goal by Peter Kraus, Carey got possession of the ball. Unable to find a teammate to pass to, Carey went the length of the field and fired into the Ridgefield net for a 2-0 lead.
On his team's first shot of the day, Ridgefield's Sean Riley got the Tigers on the board after receiving a pass from William Bonaparte with 1:06 remaining in the opening quarter.
Nearly 12 scoreless minutes later, New Canaan boosted its lead to 3-1 when Kraus hit Puck Richardson for a goal. Ridgefield called a timeout with 21 seconds remaining in the half, and the strategy paid off when Calvin Dearth got a centering pass to Timothy Kelly, who closed New Canaan's lead to 3-1 with 2.5 seconds remaining.
To start the third quarter, Bobby Distler won the faceoff for New Canaan and was quickly off to the races. Distler immediately gained possession and charged untouched to the Ridgefield net, unleashing a shot past goalie Adam Winne.
"That's something that I've kind of been working on all season. I've had a couple of times where I've come down and hit the goalie, so it felt really good to get one and set the tempo for the second half for our team," Distler said. "After one goal, things just kind of start to click and it's almost unstoppable."
Not content to go quietly, Ridgefield began dominating time of possession, and Martin Carbone and Dearth scored to pull the Tigers even at 4-4. Less than three minutes later, New Canaan scored to take back control of the game and start its 6-0 run.
After New Canaan netted the six unanswered markers, Bonaparte closed out the scoring with 4:21 left in the contest.
"Coming in I thought we would have been more competitive than we were," Colsey said. "In the playoffs, it's be good or go home. Guys need to be ready to move forward for the tournament."
NEW CANAAN 10, RIDGEFIELD 5
RIDGEFIELD...................... 1 1 2 1--5
NEW CANAAN................. 2 1 4 3--10
Records: Ridgefield 11-3 (7-2 FCIAC), New Canaan 11-3 (8-2 FCIAC).
Scoring: R--Calvin Dearth (1g, 2a), William Bonaparte (1g, 1a), Sean Riley (1g,), Timothy Kelly (1g), Martin Carbone (1g). NC--Michael Bossidy (3g, 2a), Puck Richardson (2g, 3a), Peter Kraus (2g, 2a), Tom Carey (1g), Bobby Distler (1g), Matt Blasco (1g). Goalies: R--Adam Winne (7 saves); NC--Tom Carey (10). Shots: R--25; NC--28.