Scoring in double-digits in 11 of its first 15 games heading into Monday’s FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals against Ridgefield, Greenwich’s boys lacrosse team hadn’t experienced much trouble generating goals this season.
Yet the visiting Tigers made it an issue for the Cardinals on Monday.
Fifth-seeded Ridgefield took an early lead and used a superb defensive effort to register a decisive 8-2 win over fourth-seeded Greenwich in the FCIAC quarterfinals at Cardinal Stadium. The Tigers (11-6), winners of fourth straight games, advanced to Wednesday’s FCIAC semifinals, where they will face top-seeded Darien.
The Cardinals (11-5) trailed 2-0 following the first quarter and 3-1 at halftime.
““We kept it close, but you never want to play catch-up against a good team,” Greenwich coach Bobby Lutz said. “They have one of the better zones that we’ve seen all year. Usually in games like that, you get good transition. But it was almost 6-on-6, the entire game, so we couldn’t get into a rhythm.”
Greenwich received one goal apiece from junior midfielder Wesley Zolin and junior attack Bryce Metalios. Junior Charlie Zola made eight saves in goal for the Cardinals, who recorded a 15-13 victory against Ridgefield on May 1 – a matchup that saw them flourish offensively. That certainly wasn’t the scenario Monday, as the Tigers controlled the momentum and tempo throughout.
“We played 48 minutes of good lacrosse for the first time this season,” Ridgefield coach Roy Colsey said. “They scored on 13 straight possessions in our first game,” Colsey said. Every time they crossed the midline with the ball they scored 13 straight possessions. We made three stops that game – we had 19 today, so it was a big turnaround.”
Juniors Luke Winkler and Josiah deGrasse scored two goals apiece and Matthew Shepard, a junior goalie, made 14 saves for Ridgefield, which played with a lot of intensity in their road matchup.
“We don’t mind going on the road,” Colsey said. “This was a business trip, the guys knew it.”
Added deGrasse: “We were excited to play on the road. Our team came out with a lot of energy and we had a little bit of a chip on our shoulder.”
The visitors took a 1-0 lead when junior Christopher Lauretani tallied off a pass from junior Ryan Colsey 4:30 into the first quarter. With 7:40 to go in the opening quarter, Winkler snapped a shot that found its way past Cardinals goalie Charlie Zola (8 saves) inside the right post, making it 2-0. Meanwhile, Ridgefield’s Owen Gaydos, Kruz Meier and Michael Dowd helped pace the squad’s defensive effort. Greenwich had several long possessions in which it worked hard to get quality shots on goal. Brian Collins, Metalios, John Cataldo and James Pilc tested Shepard with shots on goal, but the Tigers netminder helped keep Greenwich at bay offensively.
“A couple of those shots go in and it would have been different, but we were missing the cage, so it was hard to get into a rhythm,” Lutz said. They slowed it down a little bit won a bunch of faceoffs and possession battle.”
Lauretani’s goal off a feed from senior Brett Alexander put the Tigers in front, 3-1 with 1:02 to go in the second quarter. After Winkler’s goal made it 4-1 at the 10:58 mark of the third quarter, the Cardinals closed to within 4-2 when junior midfielder Quinn Warwick set Metalios up for a goal 49 seconds later. Both teams played solid defense thereafter, as Ridgefield’s zone was effective and the Cardinals got locked in behind Chris Cataldo, Matthew Trimmer and James O’Malley.
In a pivotal moment, deGrasse tallied twice during the final minute of the third quarter, stretching the visitors’ advantage to 6-2.
“The scoring today could not have been more spread out,” Colsey said. “I thought Joe deGrasse had a great, scoring some big goals in the second half. Joe’s a great player with tremendous potential. It was nice to see that from him in a key game.”
Colsey noted that he gave the game ball to senior Matthew Martinez, who battled hard with Greenwich’s Warwick at the faceoff-X.
“Their faceoff guy was really good off the whistle, he was fast on the ground balls, it was a 50/50 fight every time,” Martinez said.
The loss didn’t end Greenwich’s season. The Cards still have the state tournament to look forward to and they’ll certainly have added incentive to advance far into the tourney, after Monday’s loss.
“Today was a tough one, it was a big learning experience for us,” said Greenwich senior defender James O’Malley, who helped pace the defense. “We’ve been talking about a sense of urgency all season and today we made a lot of mistakes and at times, we didn’t have that sense of urgency. We have time to practice, watch film and learn from our mistakes.”
Said Lutz: “Our guys have a whole other season, it’s not the last game of the season. We still have states and we’ll have a bunch of productive practices and then see what we can do at the next tournament.”