New Canaan tops Ridgefield, 14-7 to reach FCIAC girls lacrosse final
Published 1:22 pm, Wednesday, May 25, 2016
NEW CANAAN — It has been a wonderful season thus far for the Ridgefield girls lacrosse team.
The Tigers will take a spiffy 15-2-1 record into the state tournament.
But Ridgefield’s Waterloo this spring campaign has been New Canaan.
The Rams downed the Tigers (15-11) in the regular season. And New Canaan conquered Ridgefield again, 14-7, in Monday night’s FCIAC semifinals at Dunning Stadium.
Experience and depth showed as New Canaan outscored Ridgefield 9-2 in the second half.
“My postgame message to the girls was ‘We’re proud.’ It’s a phenomenal group that has come a long way this season,” said coach Cece Berger, in her third year at Ridgefield after a long coaching tenure in New York state. “We win and lose together. We laugh and cry together. It was a special day playing in the FCIAC semifinals. It just wasn’t our best day on the field.”
The first half ended in a 5-5 deadlock. But New Canaan’s offense went into overdrive for the final 25 minutes to secure the win.
The victory means New Canaan will once again face the machine known as Darien for the FCIAC title Thursday at 4 p.m. at McMahon High. Darien ousted Greenwich, 15-3 in Monday’s late semifinal.
It will be the eighth time that Darien and New Canaan have battled since 1997 for the FCIAC championship. Darien has been successful in all of the previous seven meetings.
But it was that history (New Canaan has played in 10 FCIAC finals, five since 2008) and experience — both in the FCIAC and state playoffs — that helped carry the Rams past a Ridgefield program that has never reached an FCIAC final.
New Canaan overcame the loss of senior Kylie Murphy to a left leg injury early in the first half.
It was an evening where youth was served for the Rams.
Sophomore Braeden Dial collected two goals and six assists while fellow sophomore Gianna Bruno scored four goal with one assist for New Canaan.
And in net, freshman goalie Caroline O’Dea registered eight important saves.
“Our underclassmen were so clutch today,” said New Canaan coach Kristin Woods. “Braeden (Dial) and Gianna (Bruno) stepped up big when we needed it after Kylie (Murphy) got hurt. And Caroline (O’Dea) had a great game for a freshman playing in the FCIAC semifinals.”
New Canaan took command in the second half as the athleticism of Campbell Armstrong (two goals, one assist) allowed the Rams to dominate faceoffs and thereby ball possession.
“We showed our fight in the second half. We needed to do that against a Ridgefield program that’s on the rise,” Woods said. “We did a great job distributing the ball in the second half. Our offense was a step slow in the first half. But when we’re passing and moving, everybody is a threat to score.”
Senior Catherine Granito was gritty while amassing three goals and one assist for New Canaan.
For Ridgefield, sophomore Caroline Curnal and junior Kaitlyn McMullan each had three goals. Senior goalie Maddie Burns made seven saves and picked up an assist with a 40-yard pass.
“New Canaan outhustled us in the second half,” Ridgefield’s Berger said. “Good teams capitalize on mistakes. And New Canaan excels on faceoffs. But we’re excited about the state tournament and our future.”