RIDGEFIELD — Chalk up another big win for the Ridgefield High School boys soccer team, the Tigers’ second straight since a tough loss to New Canaan on Monday.
But while Ridgefield looked pretty impressive in its 5-1 triumph over FCIAC rival Westhill Friday afternoon, Tigers coach Phil Bergen knows his team can play better. And with the FCIAC tournament set to start in less than a week, Bergen knows his Tigers must play better.
“It wasn’t our best game,” said Bergen, whose Tigers improved to 13-3-1 overall and 11-3-1 in the FCIAC, and are in line for one of the top seeds in the upcoming conference playoffs. “I hope we’re ready to improve. It’s a great bunch of kids. I think we have all the ingredients to be a championship team, but we have to make sure to cross our T’s and dot our I’s and do a little better.”
J.T. Siano and Lucas Debarbieri each scored two goals, Christian DeVivo scored one, and the Tiger defense — led by seniors Ben Sasse, Nick David, Michael Grevers and Shane Bowler — took care of the rest. Goalkeeper Ray Dearth made three saves before giving way to Ryan Sheafe and Robert Buthorn in the final minutes.
“My defense saves me a lot. I’m just a sophomore,” Dearth said with a smile. “Having an all-senior back line really helps me.”
Needless to say, it was a frustrating afternoon for the Vikings, who fell to 6-6-3 overall and 6-6-3 in the FCIAC. Jorge Betancur scored the lone Westhill goal in the second half, and goalkeepers Adrian Chung-Wilks and Natanel Aybar each made one save. Westhill was in ninth place in the conference playoff hunt prior to Friday’s loss; the top eight qualify.
“I’m just disappointed,” Westhill coach Joe Andrews said. “We had a lot riding on this game, possibly a spot in the FCIAC tournament, so we had a lot to play for. Hats off to Ridgefield. They out-played us, it’s as simple as that. I think we’re a lot better than this, but it just wasn’t our day.”
Ridgefield led 3-0 deep into the second half before Betancur scored on a free kick from a sharp angle to put Westhill on the board with about 15 minutes remaining. Of course, 15 minutes is ample time to cobble together a couple more goals and tie the game, so the Tigers weren’t quite out of the woods just yet. Then, roughly two minutes later, Debarbieri scored his first goal of the game to make it 4-1. Any hopes the Vikings had of making a dramatic comeback were all but dashed at that point. Debarbieri struck again in the final minutes to ice it.
Ridgefield had its unbeaten streak snapped at 10 (nine wins, one tie) when it lost at New Canaan on Monday. It was only New Canaan’s third win of the season. Ridgefield then blanked Norwalk 1-0 on Wednesday to get back on track.
“We had a pretty tough loss against New Canaan, so it’s nice to bounce back with these two games against Norwalk and Westhill,” Dearth said. “We have Warde on Monday, so it’s nice to have these two wins under our belt.”
The Vikings will be looking to regroup and get ready for a run in the Class LL state tournament.
“We need to get it together,” Andrews said. “If not, it’s going to be one and done. So, we need to figure things out, and figure them out fast.”
RIDGEFIELD 5, WESTHILL 1
WESTHILL0 1 — 1
RIDGEFIELD2 3 — 5
Records: Westhill 6-6-3, 6-6-3 FCIAC; Ridgefield 13-3-1, 11-3-1 FCIAC. Goals: W—Jorge Betancur; R—J.T. Siano 2, Lucas Debarbieri 2, Christian DeVivo. Assists: R—Alexander Glass. Goalies: W—Adrian Chung-Wilks (1 save), Natanel Aybar (1 save); R—Ray Dearth (3 saves), Ryan Sheafe (0 saves), Robert Buthorn (0 saves).