RIDGEFIELD — “Anger can be power,” sang The Clash 40 years ago, “do you know that you can use it.”
Cait Irving found a productive way, turning her ire into the goal that sent the Ridgefield field hockey team to the state semifinals for the first time in program history.
Upset after being fouled on a play that resulted in a Greenwich player getting a yellow card, Irving collected the ball at the top of the box and drilled a shot into the corner with 4:22 left to play. Ridgefield’s defense then fended off three consecutive penalty corners in the final seconds to close out a 1-0 victory over the Cardinals in the Class L quarterfinals Friday afternoon at Tiger Hollow.
“I was just mad,” Irving said about the Greenwich player’s foul. “One of my teammates sent the ball to the top of the circle and there was a little scuffle and I was just so mad I was like I need to get in there, so I took it from the top of the circle outside and just took a really hard shot as far to the corner as I possibly could … it worked out nicely.”
The seventh-seeded Tigers will now play third-seed Darien in the semifinals next Tuesday or Wednesday at a site and time to be determined. Darien routed sixth-seed Amity in another quarterfinal game Friday.
“It’s our second trip to the final four this season,” said Ridgefield head coach Jessica Smith, whose team also reached the FCIAC semifinals for the first time. “We don’t want to end early this time … we want to continue on.
“We kind of had the jitters in the first final four,” added Smith, referring to Ridgefield’s 3-1 loss to Staples in the conference semifinals. “We’re going to be more prepared for the state semifinals. We’re not going to be as nervous.”
Greenwich, the 15th seed, played much better than it had during a 4-0 loss to Ridgefield at the end of the regular-season. Midfielder Demi Janis made several stick-handling runs toward the Tigers’ goal — shooting just wide on one of them with under 11 minutes left in the opening half — and defenders Charlotte Gans, Guadalupe Balaguer, Eleanor Ybarra, and Ashley Zolin snuffed out several promising Ridgefield attacks.
“I think they caught us the first time at kind of a turning point,” Greenwich coach Megan Wax said. “We had a 180 after that … we talked about a lot of things, and changing our mentality was our big point of emphasis. From there we’ve grown exponentially, and everybody could see that today.”
“I think Greenwich came out much hungrier than in the regular season; they had a strong defensive effort,” Smith said. “But I think we won the second half … we won those 50-50 balls and came out on top.”
Ridgefield had several scoring chances in the second half. Aerin Krys flipped a shot that went just over the goal; Izzy Redrup had a point-blank shot blocked; and Greenwich goalie Jorja Pastore artfully cut off a crossing pass ticketed for Irving, who was open in front of the net.
A few minutes later, Irving got another opportunity and made the most of it.