RIDGEFIELD -- If the second-seeded Ridgefield boys soccer team was going to defend its home turf and advance to the semifinals of the FCIAC tournament, it would have to buck a trend that New Canaan has built over the last few years.
Twice in the last two seasons, New Canaan finished the regular season as the No. 8 seed but managed to advance by knocking off top-seeded Norwalk. New Canaan's reputation as a dangerous tournament team was never more apparent than a 2010 run to the state championship as the tournament's No 19 seed.
This time, however, New Canaan would indeed go one-and-done in the FCIAC tournament thanks in large part to Ridgefield's Kent Coleman, who scoreless deadlock with 33:15 remaining in the contest. Coleman's shot was from fairly long distance, and it bounced off the inside of the right post and into the New Canaan net.
The 1-0 win puts Ridgefield into the FCIAC semifinals, where the Tigers will take on No. 3 Greenwich.
"We've had that play the whole year. My midfielders look for me to hang on the last man and get a one-on-one with the goalie," Coleman said. "It was a bouncing ball, so I figured if I could just chip it over, it would be good enough. I got some help from the post, and it went in."
The Tigers dominated time of possession in the first half and held an 11-3 advantage in shots at halftime, but ultimately had nothing to show for it, as neither team could light the scoreboard.
"We really weren't winning any 50-50 balls in the first half. They were maintaining possession and kept it on our half," New Canaan coach Victor Sanchez said. "We talked about being more aggressive on the 50-50s, and I thought we did a much better job in the second half. Unfortunately, we couldn't really get things together in that final third."
Ridgefield had several chances to increase its lead, but a fine defensive play by New Canaan's Henry Stanton prevented Coleman from getting a shot on net when it appeared he was going in for a one-on-one with goalie Michael Powell.
Coleman also sent a second shot off the right post, but the ball bounced safely away from the net.
"It's a scary game because I think we deserved throughout to win the game, but if we don't put it in the back of the net, it comes back to haunt you," Ridgefield coach Phil Bergen said. "It was a little nerve-wracking, but what a goal. Being in the semifinals of the FCIAC is a big privilege."
One of New Canaan's best shots at the equalizer occurred when Steven Valente took the ball on a long run and centered it to Keith Griffin, but Ridgefield goalie Calvin Dearth came out of the net to smother the shot, deflecting it into the air and out of play for a corner kick.
New Canaan is back in action in the Class L state tournament at a time and date to be announced.
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Ridgefield 1, New Canaan 0
NEW CANAAN 0 0--0
RIDGEFIELD 0 1--1
Records: New Canaan 9-5-3, Ridgefield 14-2-1.
Goals: R--Kent Coleman. Goalies: NC--Michael Powell (6 saves); R--Calvin Dearth (7). Shots: NC--7; R--18.