Tuesday, April 12 was a date circled for both the Ridgefield High and Greenwich High lacrosse teams, as the two teams squared off for the first time since last year’s overtime thriller in the Class L semifinals.
The Tigers put an end to Greenwich’s postseason hopes last year when they eliminated the Cardinals in both the FCIAC semis and the class L state playoffs.
The rivalry was renewed at Tiger Hollow Stadium on Tuesday night, as the Cardinals couldn’t avenge their previous playoff losses in what was a tough early test for both teams.
“This is going to fuel us for the rest of the season,” said Greenwich’s Michael Sands following the 10-7 loss to Ridgefield. “We’re going to use this to our advantage and get better. We’re going to work our asses off in practice.”
Ridgefield was led by Peter Dearth with a game-high five goals and accounting for half of his team’s scoring output. Schuyler Blair and Chase Levesque each scored a pair of goals in the first half to get the Tigers out to a commanding 6-1 lead at the half.
“I told them to regroup at half and stick to what we have been doing in practice,” said GHS head coach Bob Lutz. “I’m happy that they realized that they could come back in a game like this. It showed at the end, but it was a too little too late.”
Out of the half Greenwich came out strong, as Bailey Savio and Scooter Harrington both found the back of the net to cut the deficit to 6-3. Savio also had an impressive day at the X, taking 17-of-19 faceoffs.
Ridgefield’s Drew Fowler would then find an open Dearth who took advantage of the Cardinal’s zone defense and fired a shot passed the goalie for a 7-3 lead.
Sands, a senior attack commit to Lafayette College, then got on the scoreboard for Greenwich, but it would again be countered by a Ridgefield goal to maintain a 8-4 lead headed into the final quarter of play. Greg Gatto set up an open Mark Galione just before the third quarter expired for the Tigers.
After Dearth notched his fourth and fifth goals of the night in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals were down, but not out for the count.
With just over two minutes remaining in the contest, and down by six goals, Greenwich attempted a comeback for the ages with three goals in their final three possessions. Ridgefield would eventually wind down the game clock, but not before the Cardinals showed what they could do in a two-minute drill coming from behind.
Sands, Jack O’Connor and Matt Baugher all scored for Greenwich in the final 2:17 of play in a game their coach says he never counted them out of.
In goal, Bennett Cooper made three saves for the Cardinals who next will host Wilton on Friday.
“I think when you have a kid like Bailey Savio that can win you faceoffs and a kid like Will Perry, who today hit lots of pipes, you can always get back in the game,” said Lutz. “Our attack really stepped up in the end with Scooter and Sands. Ridgefield is a good team with a strong zone defense.”
Even in his first year at the helm for the Cardinals, Lutz says he’s aware of the rivalry between the two FCIAC foes and hopes to see them face off in the postseason for what could be a third consecutive year for the programs.
“In the way it’s worked out in previous years, we could see them up to three times in a year. If we see them, we’ll probably both be way different teams by then.”