RIDGEFIELD – Greenwich High School’s boys lacrosse team has suffered several tough one-goal losses this season and last, one of which was a double overtime defeat against Darien on Tuesday and another occurring in 2021 when it was edged by Fairfield Prep in the CIAC Class L Tournament.
Yet today, the Cardinals finally made a close, one-goal game turn out in their favor and they certainly couldn’t have picked a better time to do so.
Eliminated by Ridgefield in the 2021 FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals, fifth-seeded Greenwich returned the favor, posting a dramatic 10-9 come-from-behind win over fourth-seeded host Ridgefield to advance to the conference semifinals.
Junior attack Brian Collins provided the heroics for the Cardinals. His goal with 18 seconds remaining broke a 9-9 tie, lifting Greenwich to its biggest win of the season to date. On Collins’ game-winner, Greenwich patiently passed the ball around the perimeter, before Collins took possession, dodged a defender and tallied from close range.
“In the huddle, our whole game plan was to find the matchups,” Collins said. “That whole game that’s what we were doing. Coach said whoever has the matchup get the ball and we’re confident in what we do. I saw I had a good matchup, I took him and fortunately I had a good shot and it went in.”
Collins recorded a hat trick, senior midfielder/captain Flynn Milledge registered four goals and senior midfielder/captain James Pilc tallied twice for Greenwich (12-5). Milledge spoke of how motivated the Cardinals were entering the game, as they played in honor of Chris Andrea. A varsity assistant coach, Andrea died unexpectedly on May 28, 2021, just 10 days after undergoing major leg surgery.
“Coming out of the game we were definitely really pumped,” said Milledge, one of the Cards’ captains. “We were playing this game for one of our coaches who sadly passed away last year – Chris Andrea he will always be in our hearts, he’s always on our helmets – CA. We’re just so thankful to be here as one of the teams to qualify for the FCIAC playoffs.”
The Cardinals, who also received a goal from senior midfielder/defender John Scarlata, will play top-seeded Darien in Tuesday’s FCIAC 5 p.m. semifinals at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk. The defending FCIAC champion Blue Wave moved on to the semifinals with a 16-3 triumph against eighth-seeded Fairfield Ludlowe.
Greenwich held a second-half lead on Darien in the second half of Tuesday’s matchup at Cardinal Stadium – game that saw Darien post a 9-8 victory.
“We’ve always wanted to get past that first round of FCIACs, so today’s win feels really good,” Collins said. “We had our tough game against Darien this week. They’re a really, really good team, but we’re going to come with all we got. We’re peaking at the right moment of the season and whatever happens, happens.”
The Tigers, who eliminated the Cards from the FCIAC Tournament with an 8-2 quarterfinal-round last season and who beat GHS during the regular season, 14-8, received three goals from senior Ryan Colsey and two goals apiece from sophomore Kyle Colsey, senior Josiah de Grasse and senior Luke Winkler.
Ridgefield entered halftime with a 7-4 advantage, before going ahead 8-4 early in the third quarter. However, Greenwich won the possession battle in the second half, limiting the Tigers’ scoring chances. The hosts were held to two second-half goals.
“We went down three at the half, but Matthew Trimmer one of our starting poles got us riled up, we came out we were just firing,” Milledge said of the Cards’ comeback. “This is what happens when you really stick together.”
Said Winkler of Ridgefield: ““We weren’t able to get the ball in the second half,” Winkler said. “It’s hard to score when we don’t have possession. We’ll move on and we’ll learn from this and get better – it’s on to states.”
Leading 7-4, the Tigers seized a four-goal edge when Kyle Colsey scored on a dodge with 9:47 remaining in the third quarter. Ridgefield wouldn’t score again until the final minute of the fourth quarter, as Greenwich rallied.
Pilc put a shot past Ridgefield senior goalie Matthew Shepard (7 saves) at the 7:01 mark of the third quarter, then Milledge bulled his way past a defender and scored with 10:30 to go in the fourth quarter, bringing Greenwich to within 8-6. The visitors went a man-up following a Tigers penalty and capitalized, as Collins tallied with 6:37 left, making it a one-goal game. Receiving a pass from freshman Colin Zeller, Milledge snapped a shot home, evening the score at 8-8.
Ridgefield seemed poised to pull out the win after Ryan Colsey converted a shot from 10 yard out off a pass from his brother Kyle with 1:28 to go. Pilc scored the equalizer though with just 42 seconds remaining, setting the scene for Collins’ winning goal, after senior Quinn Warwick won another faceoff.
“Quinn was winning faceoffs like crazy, we kept getting the ball,” Collins said.
Greenwich coach Bobby Lutz is used to seeing Pilc make key plays, whether it’s scoring or setting up his teammates for a goal.
“He’s everywhere, he does so much between the lines and stuff that doesn’t jump at you in the stat book,” Lutz said of Pilc. “He’ll play the wing, he’ll play offense, he’ll play defense and he has a motor. We ask so much of him and he keeps producing.”
Senior goalie Charlie Zola made eight saves for the surging Cardinals, who were paced defensively by senior Matthew Trimmer, Brendan Frost (senior), Scarlata (senior), Adam Kim (sophomore) and Corey Tautel (senior).
“It feels good, we played them last year in the first round of FCIACs too,” Zola said. “It was a tough loss and they dominated us in that game. This game, even though we were down three goals at halftime, we still believed. Quinn won some clutch faceoffs for us and the defense played great.”
Warwick won 13 of the 20 faceoffs he took, enabling GHS to get crucial possessions, especially in the second half.
“The second half we told Quinn if we were going to win this game it’s going to be on his back and we all jumped on and he got us faceoffs and some much-needed possessions,” Lutz said. “He’s one of the best FOGO’s in the state.”
Indeed, GHS coach Bobby Lutz has seen his squad steadily improve throughout the season and they now seem to be peaking.
“This is a team that plays for each other and there’s no quit and no doubt in them,” Lutz said. “I’m proud of them, they’re such a great group. They’re led by seniors but there’s a great supporting class of underclassmen stepping up. It’s been real fun to be part of.”
Greenwich played one of its best games of the season in its overtime loss against Darien.
“Taking them to double overtime last Tuesday was a huge accomplishment but we didn’t get the win and obviously, we want to get the win this time,” Lutz said. “They’re the best team in the state and one of the best teams in the country, so we know how hard we have to play and how good we have to play to get close again. This time hopefully, it swings our way instead.”
Said Zola: “We had a tough game against Darien a few days ago, so we’re looking to repeat that and come out on top this time.”