GREENWICH — The quarterfinal-round of the FCIAC Field Hockey Tournament was a roadblock for Greenwich the past couple of years, but the surging Cardinals navigated their way by the familiar obstacle on Friday.
And the duo of Maggie O’Gorman and Sam Chabot made sure their team advanced.
O’Gorman and Chabot each scored to spark top-seeded Greenwich to a well-earned 2-0 win over eighth-seeded Ridgefield in the quarterfinals at Cardinal Stadium.
Greenwich (14-2, 14-1 FCIAC) plays fifth-seeded Wilton (12-3) in Monday’s 6 p.m. semifinal-round at Brien McMahon High School.
“I am a senior and this is my first time making it to the FCIAC semifinals, so this was a really big game for us,” O’Gorman said. “This game encompassed everything we’ve tried to do all season.”
The Cardinals scored one goal in each half and received four saves from senior goalie Emily Gunzburg.
“We have lost the last couple of years in the first round, which is always a tough game, they are all tough,” GHS coach Ally Orrico said. “The girls have had an amazing regular season and you get that target on your back when you are the No.1-seed. Ridgefield is well-coached and has really good players. I’m proud of our team for putting it together and getting the win.”
Ridgefield (7-6-1-1), which gained more possession and raised their pressure on the Cardinals as the game progressed, got six saves from senior goalie Ellie Kaiser.
“It’s a learning curve and by the end of the game we were getting a lot more opportunities and pressing harder,” Tigers coach Madelaine Hutchings said. “To me, it’s a step up and a great way to start our postseason.”
CARDINALS STRIKE FIRST
With Greenwich applying pressure inside the Tigers’ circle, it took a 1-0 lead with 13:50 remaining in the first half. Junior forward Paige Finneran drove a shot toward the goal that Kaiser blocked with her pads. But the ball found its way near the stick of O’Gorman, who knocked the rebound inside the left post in creative fashion.
“I wasn’t expecting it to go in, I really just shot it between my legs and figured I’d see what would happen,” O’Gorman said.
Ridgefield’s first scoring threat came at the 8:10 mark of the first half, but Gunzburg made a save off a shot by sophomore midfielder Bella Carrozza.
EXTENDING THE LEAD
The Cards seized a 2-0 advantage when Chabot tallied off a deflection with 20:07 left in the second half. On a penalty corner, Ridgefield came close to scoring with 15 minutes remaining, but Gunzburg was clutch again in goal, stopping a shot from Tigers senior Katie Pieterse.
“We put up a good fight,” Pieterse said. “Our defense was working hard to get the ball up to our midfielders and our midfielders transfered the ball to our forwards. We just couldn’t capitalize in the circle.”
Led by senior defenders Beth Williamson and Zoe Metalios, GHS effectively cleared the ball out of harm’s way numerous times.
“It feels really good, this was the first year of all my four years that we are going to the semifinals,” Williamson said. “They were a lot better than they’re seeded and were really tough. We did a lot of passing back, which helped, because we didn’t force the ball up the field.”
Said Ridgefield midfielder Natalie Silver: “This was a really good matchup earlier in the season as well. They were just able to capitalize better and finish. It was a competitive game overall.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
O’Gorman set the tone and took some pressure off the top-seeded Cardinals with her first-half goal.
Senior midfielder Sailor Jiranek effectively passed the ball up the field throughout the game. The Cardinals’ defenders were solid in both halves of play.
“It was a really good team
win,” Metalios said. “Every line worked well together. From freshman to seniors, no one has ever made it past the first round of FCIACs on this team. So this was a game we’ve been working up to and really wanted to win.”
Said Kaiser: “Greenwich did a good job of capitalizing on our tiny mistakes. If we just fix the little things and work on connecting throughout the field, we’ll do really well.”
GREENWICH 2, RIDGEFIELD 0
RIDGEFIELD 0 0 — 0
GREENWICH 1 1 — 2
Greenwich 14-2; Ridgefield 7-6-1-1
G — Maggie O’Gorman, Sam Chabot;
G — Paige Finneran;
Goalies: R — Ellie Kaiser (6 saves); G — Emily Gunzburg (4 saves).