WILTON — The Staples bench erupted with cheers as Arianna Gerig’s cross into the box knocked off the foot of Ashley Wright and into the back of the net for the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Ridgefield on a chilly Wednesday night at Kristine Lilly Field.
The win clinches the Wreckers’ berth in the FCIAC championship game Friday.
“It was a really good play for the whole team,” Wright said. “We possessed it all the way up and when I saw (Gerig) going all the way down the line, I knew I had to get in the box. So I just sprinted up there and she played a great ball in open space and I got it in.”
Ridgefield had several opportunities throughout the match to find the equalizing goal, but the Tigers could not catch a break on any of their nine shots.
Both teams played a physical match with plenty of pushing and shoving, Ridgefield coach Iain Golding said he was proud of the way his team dealt with the rough play — he was just disappointed in the final results.
“I feel like in big parts of the game we had a lot pressure and some good chances, or at least half chances, to try and get a goal,” he said. “But unfortunately, tonight it didn’t work.”
It will be a different feeling heading into the state tournament for the Tigers after winning the last two conference championships, but Golding said the team will have to get back to work and respond following missing a trip to the FCIAC title game for first time since the 2014 season.
“Obviously for the last two years we’ve been FCIAC champions,” he said. “So it’s a lot coming into states. But right now, it’s just about regrouping and getting back to the practice field. Just getting them focused and mentally prepared for the next game.”
Staples was successful by being able to dictate the tempo throughout the match and keep the flow of the game in a place that it felt confident in, coach Barry Beattie said.
“We knew what we were up against today,” he said. “We knew first off we’d have to win the physical contest and then earn the right to play the style of soccer that we like to play.”
The win was the 11th shutout for the Wreckers this season.
LAST TIME OUT
Staples last played for the FCIAC title in 2014. The Wreckers finished with a share of the championship with Fairfield Warde.
“We fought back with every time they hit us with a tackle, we hit them back and it was an evenly matched physical game.” — Staples junior Ashley Wright on the back-and-forth match against Ridgefield in the FCIAC semifinals.
STAPLES 1, RIDGEFIELD 0
Records: Staples 13-3-1, Ridgefield 11-3-3. Goals: S—Ashley Wright. Assists: S—Arianna Gerig. Goalies: S—Anna Sivinski (8 saves); R—Lauren Castle (5 saves). Shots: S—8; R—9.