WILTON — “This is why people don’t like Ridgefield,” yelled a Wilton fan midway through the final quarter of Thursday night’s boys lacrosse game.
The reason for his frustration? Ridgefield had scored the last goal to open a 9-7 lead and now the Tigers were content to move the ball around and take time off the clock.
For nearly three minutes, Ridgefield maintained possession without taking a shot. The Tigers then called a timeout with 4:22 left, and when play resumed Weston Carpenter scored to give Ridgefield a three-goal lead.
Wilton had only one more brief possession as the Tigers closed out their 10-7 triumph and improved to 12-2 with two regular-season games left.
“I’m going to do that every time … if I have the lead and the ball you’re going to have to come and get it,” Ridgefield coach Roy Colsey said about slowing down play. “That’s why we need a shot clock. At the end of the day, I’m a fool if I’m giving them back the ball when they have to be the ones on the offensive end.”
Ridgefield led 5-3 before Wilton got back-to-back goals from Zach Rossi and Reilly Sullivan to tie the score with 7:59 left in the third period. But Ryan Colsey and Owen Gaydos scored off sweet individual moves and John Mathes followed with another goal to put the Tigers ahead 8-5 going into the final period.
Less than a minute into the final quarter, Wilton (6-8) was back within one at 8-7 following goals by Liam Sullivan and Andrew Luciano.
But after Mathes gave Ridgefield a two-goal cushion, the Tigers went to their stall.
“Ridgefield is a very skilled team,” Wilton coach Steve Pearsall said. “They know how to control the possession, let’s say. We knew that. You can’t get behind against them.”
Winners of their previous five games, the Warriors played a strong first period. Reilly Sullivan opened the scoring for the hosts, and after Ridgefield went ahead on two goals from Carpenter, Wilton got goals from Liam McGovern and Andrew Luciano to lead 3-2 at the end of the quarter.
Both goalies — Dan Parson for Ridgefield and Andrew Calabrese for Wilton — made nice saves during a second quarter that included only two goals. The Tigers scored both of those: Noah Gels converted a feed from Ryan Colsey off a fast break started by Kai Prohaska’s forced turnover; and Ray Dearth followed with an unassisted goal on a ripped shot from 15 yards out.
“I thought we had a good first quarter, and then in the second quarter we had a couple of opportunities to fast break and get some quick goals,” Pearsall said. “There were saves made … give the goalie (Parson) credit … and then we were back on defense. We played a lot of defense in the second quarter.”
Calabrese was sent off for a penalty soon after the opening face-off of the third quarter, and Ridgefield capitalized. Senior midfielder James Isaacson found a seam and blasted a shot past Jake Zeyher, who took over in goal for Wilton while Calabrese served his penalty.
The Warriors tied the game with a pair of goals in less than two minutes. Zach Rossi scored on a pass from Liam Sullivan with 9:30 left in the third period, and Reilly Sullivan made it 5-5 with his second goal of the night just 91 seconds later.
Wilton won the ensuing face-off and had a chance to go ahead, but Kees van Wees forced a turnover and Ryan Colsey used some spin moves behind the net to shake a defender and score, giving Ridgefield a 6-5 lead.
Gaydos then managed to beat Calabrese before tumbling to the ground, and Mathes whipped in a goal to push Ridgefield’s lead to 8-5 going into the final period.
After scoring twice in the first minute of the fourth quarter, Wilton looked ready to catch the Tigers. But a save by Parson and another takeaway by van Wees preceded Mathes’ second goal and sent Ridgefield into its stall — a tactic the Tigers deployed to perfection in their upset win over Darien in last year’s Class L state finals. Carpenter then supplied the dagger with his third goal following Ridgefield’s timeout.
“Wilton has probably the top two defenders in the state … (Ryan) Schriber and (Tyler) Previte are top of the line … so we were trying to balance our offense around them,” Carpenter said. “We were trying to isolate the shorties (short-stick midfielders) and really make them slide so we could free up some of those shots which we were fortunate to get.”
“Wilton has great kids … they work hard, and they punish you for making mistakes,” Roy Colsey said. “We came out and played smart enough in the second half to kind of take a little more of a commanding lead and then we finally slowed it down.”
Slowed it down, and closed out the win.