TRUMBULL— Ridgefield High coach Cece Berger cautioned her team to expect a contested match, before the Tigers earned a 9-5 FCIAC decision over St. Joseph at the Dalling Sports Complex on Thursday.
“I told the girls on the bus ride that St. Joes is a class team and Lee (Gray) makes them better and better each year,” Berger said. “They made us earn it. I value that because it makes us stronger.”
Ridgefield met Gray’s expectations as well.
“They are as well coached and as athletic a team that we will face,” Gray said. “This is the closest we’ve played them. We’ve lost to Ludlowe, New Canaan, and now another top 10 team in Ridgefield. It was a great game.”
Maeve Tobin took heed of Berger’s warning, as the Tigers improved to 2-0 in the conference.
The Tigers took a 4-2 lead into the half, on goals from Faith Arnold, Hannah Boylan, Aly Gagnon and Tobin.
Then, the Cadets tied things at 4-all.
A senior attacker, Tobin scored the next three goals.
“I was a little crazy out there,” she said. “We really want to win and we’re getting there by blending in the younger players. We have potential all over the field and we’re introducing attack and defense to the new starters.”
The Cadets’ Jetkke Gray controlled the first two draws in the second half, with Lily Ivanovich (24:36) and Annie McNeil (19:45) finding the back of the net.
Riley Peters leveled play in the circle and the Tigers came back.
Caitlin Slaminko (7 draw controls) helped trap a Cadet looking to clear the zone and came away with the ground ball.
Eighteen seconds later, Karley Smith fed the active Gagnon, who one-timed a shot past St. Joe’s keeper Erin Owens. Smith finished with two assists.
“She made it difficult, that’s for sure,” Berger said of the Division I Central Michigan recruit. “In the first half we took 16 shots, scored four goals, but she made 11 saves. That was outstanding.”
Jettke Gray looked to equalize with a free position chance, but Bella Carrozza squeezed in quickly and keeper Lexi Held (8 saves) deflected the attempt high.
Tobin’s next goal was painful for all concerned. She drove in from the left of Owens and tallied while being checked to the turf for a 6-4 lead at the 7:27 mark.
Ridgefield won the draw, and off a quick attack, Tobin was awarded a free position opportunity and scored again.
Owens kept her team in it with a point-black stop on another Tobin shot.
Tobin’s third goal came off a great pass from Slaminko with 3:28 to play.
“We’ve been working on driving and then passing the ball (to the wing), Berger said. “We also were able to get in transition from the draw. That led to Kaitlyn’s two assists. Hannah Boylan also came up with huge possessions during the game.
Mary Hage took the score to 9-4 on Slaminko’s second helper.
St. Joe’s Ryan Camiglio completed the scoring from a tough angle, with the assist going to Ivanovich.
“In my four years of coaching here, this is the first time I’ve started four freshmen,” Lee Gray said. “We are one or two weeks away from being where we want to be. The defense is playing extremely well.
“Erin is a great goalie. Even against the pressure put on by a team like Ridgefield. She makes the saves and then has the confidence to calmly come out and clear the ball.”
The Tigers’ Faith Arnold received the post-game Pay It Forward Game Ball.
“Faith did a lot of good things,” Berger said of her sophomore. “She scored a goal, forced a turnover, had a couple of ground balls and rushed the ball in transition.
“We give the ball to a player who most impresses the coaches that day. It isn’t who scores the most. It could be a bench player. It is for someone who shows heart and hustle. Someone who lifted us up. We want the players to take ownership (or their actions) and then pay it forward.”
Player of the Game
Maeve Tobin — The Ridgefield senior scored four goals and provided the Tigers with a go-to person throughout the game.
“She made it difficult, that’s for sure,” Ridgefield coach Cece Berger said of the Cadets’ Erin Owens, a Division I Central Michigan recruit. “In the first half we took 16 shots, scored four goals, but she made 11 saves. That was outstanding.”
RIDGEFIELD 9, St. JOSEPH 5
Records: R—2-2; SJ 1-3. Scoring: R — Maeve Tobin 4 goals, Aly Gagnon 2 goals, 1 assist, Hannah Boylan 1 goal, Faith Arnold 1 goal, Mary Hage 1 goal, Caitlin Slaminko 2 assists, Karley Smith 2 assists. SJ — Lily Ivanovich 2 goals, 1 assist, Jettke Gray 1 goal, 1 assist, Annie McNeil 1 goal, 1 assist, Ryan Camiglio 1 goal, Bela Yoguez 1 assist. Goalies: R—Lexi Held 8 saves. SJ — Erin Owens 16 saves.