A fair result – that was the consensus of the coaches and players involved in Thursday’s back-and-forth FCIAC boys soccer game between Greenwich and Ridgefield.
A hat trick, lead changes, goals off penalty kicks and several scoring chances in the final minutes – this matchup had a little bit of everything.
All of it added up to a well-played 3-3 draw at Cardinal Stadium in a key game just past the midway point of the season.
“A fair result,” Greenwich coach Kurt Putnam said. “We went down, we came back, we went up, they tied it, they went up, we tied it, so it was back and forth. It was a great game of football between two teams.”
Ridgefield senior forward Fisher Mills recorded a hat trick, scoring all three of his team’s goals. Greenwich received one goal apiece from senior Jake Hugh-Jones, sophomore Maximo Ferrario and senior Alejandro Rodriguez.
“I think a tie is a fair result,” said Hugh-Jones, a senior defender/midfielder, who is one of the team’s captains. “We had the biggest chances of the game. We played well throughout the game, there were spells where they were on top. But I think when we did get it back to 3-all, we had great chances that we would have liked to have seen gone into the back of the net.”
Following the tie, Greenwich and Ridgefield sport identical 5-1-3 records, good for 18 points in the FCIAC standings. The Cards are in second place in the FCIAC West, while the Tigers are second in the FCIAC East Division.
Behind 3-2, Greenwich tied the score when Rodriguez deposited his penalty kick past Ridgefield junior goalie Ian Uecker inside the left post in the 63rd minute.
“There was a lot of pressure,” said Rodriguez, also one of the Cards’ captains. “I had the team on my back and I was seeing where to go and I decided to go left and I was lucky the keeper wasn’t there in time. I started running to celebrate, but I remembered we were tied and I wanted to get another one.”
The winning goal never came for either team, as both goalies made crucial saves in the game’s waning minutes. Uecker registered 13 saves for the game, while Greenwich senior Julian Colin also stepped up in goal throughout.
Ridgefield took a 3-2 advantage in the 51st minute, courtesy of Fisher Mills, who tallied off a pass from senior William Harford, competing his hat trick in the process. Mills was difficult to defend in all areas of the field.
“He’s an up-and-coming talent and he loves soccer, he plays all day, every day and you can see that,” Ridgefield coach Phil Bergen said of Mills. “It’s all coming together technically, physically for him and I’m happy for him.”
Said Hugh-Jones: “He’s a great player, that’s a great hat trick. A penalty, a free kick and an open play goal. He’s definitely someone all teams will be worried about in the postseason.”
Mills opened the scoring by converting a penalty kick in the ninth minute, giving the Tigers a 1-0 edge. With Greenwich effectively moving the ball, Hugh-Jones, who scored twice in a 3-1 victory against Darien on Tuesday, continued his strong offensive play. Hugh-Jones’ goal with 22:09 remaining in the first half knotted the score at 1-1.
Putnam inserted Ferrario into the game past the midway point of the opening half and the move indeed, paid off. Ferrario ran onto a crossing pass from junior Lucas Luzuriago and tallied, giving Greenwich a 2-1 lead in the 28th minute.
The action-packed first half ended in a 2-2 tie, as Mills sent his free kick from the right side, inside the far post, in the 36th minute.
“We’ve done it several times this season, so it shows their character,” Bergin said of his team’s penchant for making comebacks. “It wasn’t our best game, but it’s fair to say to say this was our hardest opponent.”
The game marked the return of GHS senior defender/captain Andrew Lowitt, who was sidelined a bit with an injury.
“It was great to be back on the field,” Lowitt said. “It could have gone either way, they’re a good team. They scored first and we took it back, but it was all back-and-forth today, so a draw is probably a fair result.”
“They are a good side, I can’t complain,” Putnam said. “How hard we worked and how we came back, were positives from the game. We cause good teams trouble, we’re causing problems.”
Both teams played with aggression and great spirit, making it seem like a postseason event.
“They’ve gotten into a good form and gotten some wins together and now we see they have very good players on top, like No. 7,” Greenwich senior midfielder/captain Santiago Borrego said of Ridgefield. “The midfield battle, our midfield three vs. their midfield three was the key aspect to this game. Their midfield was moving around a lot, so we were constantly marking different players. Despite this draw, we’ve been playing well so far and I’m happy with our performances in recent games.”
Greenwich hosts Danbury on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
“We feel good, I think we’re playing well we just need to finish our chances, I hope we pick it up,” Rodgriguez said. “We have a lot of potential, so I think the wins we’ll keep racking up.”
“I think we’ve definitely hit our stride,” Lowitt added. “We got four points from two hard games and going to the back end of the season, I think the team will do very well and pick up a lot of points.”