Girls soccer: Ridgefield repeats with win over St. Joseph

St. Joseph's Hailey Vechiarelli gets her head on the ball in the title game. — Andy Hutchison photo
St. Joseph's Hailey Vechiarelli gets her head on the ball in the title game. — Andy Hutchison photo

A regular-season win over the Ridgefield Tigers helped dull some of the pain the St Joseph High girls soccer team sustained in last year’s FCIAC championship. A win in a pinnacle game rematch, Friday at Norwalk High, could have made the Cadets feel that much better.

For the second year in a row, however, Ridgefield shut the Cadets out in the title game, prevailing 1-0 on a cleanup goal off a long free kick with 26:38 remaining in regulation.

Grace Franklin drilled a shot from about 40 yards out that Cadet goalkeeper Veronica O’Rourke made a save on with a leaping effort. The ball clanked off the crossbar and Katie Jasminski put home the rebound.

The goal stood up thanks, in large part, to Ridgefield’s defense. The second-seeded Tigers (17-2) held back and clogged the field on their defensive third, limiting top-seeded St. Joseph’s opportunities to a precious few. The cadets are 16-2-1.

“Obviously, today we thought play more defensive — don’t give them that space to create,” Ridgefield coach Iain Golding said.

Cadet players including Lindsey Savko, Julia DiCesare and Jessica Mazo generated some first-half pressure, but had little opportunity in the second half.

“I knew it was going to be a one-goal game either way,” said St Joseph coach Jack Nogueira, adding that he expected someone to score off a corner kick or set piece, as was the case.

“It was a tight game. They finished their chance. It was a good direct kick, we didn’t follow the play and they put it in.

“These types of games are never the best soccer. They’re always tight. They’re always about a mistake being made.”

The wind was blowing, strongly at times, and favored the Cadets in the first half, and the Tigers in the final 40 minutes after the teams switched ends.

“The wind played a big part,” Nogueira said. “They held us, they got their chance in the second half. We’ve just got to regroup and move on.”