The golden age for the Ridgefield High girls soccer program sparkled brightest last season.
After winning conference championships in 2015 and 2016 and a first-ever state championship in 2017, Ridgefield achieved a rare double last fall, claiming both the FCIAC and Class LL titles.
“Last year exceeded all expectations,” said head coach Iain Golding, who has steered the Tigers to a 37-5-4 record over the past two seasons, including a 21-2-1 mark last year. “We conceded only four goals. Everything we did seemed to work really well.”
Ridgefield should have more than a puncher’s chance of defending both titles this fall. Despite some significant graduation losses — most notably two All-FCIAC and All-State players in central defender Claire Middlebrook and goalie Lauren Castle — the Tigers return proven performers all over the field.
“It’s a strong group,” Golding said. “But right now we’re not thinking about the post-season; we’re only thinking about our first game against Greenwich.”
One of the top returnees is senior forward Caitlin Slaminko, an All-FCIAC and All-State selection in 2018. Slaminko, who led Ridgefield in goals (18) and assists (13), uses her speed and skill to harass defenses; she has the ability to create scoring chances out of seemingly harmless situations.
Slaminko will team with juniors Faith Arnold (13 goals, eight assists) and Tasha Riek (11 goals, five assists) and sophomore Julia Bragg (six goals, four assists) to give the Tigers a surplus of scoring threats. Arnold made the All-FCIAC first team last year.
Senior Megan Klosowski anchors a midfield that also includes juniors Grace Michalowski and Eva McKinley and sophomore Meredith Clifford. Koslowski scored the only goal in Ridgefield’s 1-0 win over Staples in the state finals.
The backline took the biggest graduation hit, losing fullbacks Amelia Hynes and Carina Dabroi in addition to Middlebrook. Senior center back Carolyn Donovan returns and should be one of the FCIAC’s best defenders. Classmate Alex Kinkead and sophomores Allison Ouellette, Jillian Pastore and Justine Corsilia are among those vying for starting spots alongside Donovan.
“The defense is something that needs to be worked on,” Golding said. “We could also play Eva (McKinley) and Grace (Michalowski) back there.”
Senior Kelly Chittenden takes over for Castle in goal. Chittenden played in nine games last season and didn’t allow a goal. “She’s done well the last two years,” Golding said about Chittenden.
One thing Golding won’t do is let his players get complacent.
“Obviously, it was great to repeat as state champs and also win FCIACs last year,” he said. “But we’re in an extremely tough league and everyone will want to knock us off.”