RIDGEFIELD — Coming off a bad loss and opening tonight’s game against rival Wilton by allowing five first-quarter goals should have been a major concern for the Ridgefield boys lacrosse team.
But the Tigers had erased the memory of an 8-1 loss to Yorktown 48 hours earlier and considered today’s start, given they had scored four times and trailed by just one goal, circumstantial.
“That pace wasn’t going to be sustained,” said Ridgefield defender Luke Gaydos. “Our six on six defense was playing great so we were confident in what we could do.”
What the Tigers did was allow just two more goals, holding Wilton scoreless for over 24 minutes during one stretch in what ended up as an impressive 12-7 victory.
“Practice yesterday everyone got there early,” Gaydos said. “We knew what we had to do. We knew we had to step it up and that’s what we did.”
Heroes abounded for the Tigers, none more so than defender Noah Isaacson, who was assigned to — or rather volunteered to — mark Connor Drake, the Warriors’ outstanding attack. Drake was limited to one goal.
“I had a couple of different plans and Noah said I want him and I said OK, that’s how we’re going to start,” Ridgefield coach Roy Colsey said. “Obviously we didn’t have to switch. Connor Drake is a really talented player and he is going to have a lot of great games in the FCIAC and beyond, but tonight was Isaacson’s night for sure.”
Gaydos and the rest of the defense, including rising sophomore Jack Dowd, were dominant — and may have been overshadowed by an equally impressive Ridgefield attack.
Isaacson’s containment brought Gaydos to use a word he likely never heard in English class.
“Noah Isaacson played amazing defense on Connor Drake. He completely took him out of the game. That was gi-normous for us,” Gaydos said. “He’s one of the best players in the FCIAC and the state. To have Noah play like that was amazing. He’s a great player.”
Reid Kagan, who finished with 3 goals and 1 assist, led a balanced Ridgefield offense. John Mathes, James Isaacson and Weston Carpenter added 2 goals apiece. Carpenter finished with 2 assists.
Colsey said he had to go back and check the records to confirm that Tuesday was indeed the first time in his 196 games at the school the Tigers had been held to just a goal.
“I’m supposed to be an offensive coach,” Colsey said. “We made some adjustments, really it was on offense. Defense it was just these guys getting more comfortable together. “I was really, really proud of the boys for coming out and giving a great effort. Sometimes you come off a game like the Yorktown game. It was a home game and we didn’t get off the bus. They knew it. It was the shortest pregame speech that I’ve ever given. Look, here’s the deal, this time let’s talk about it on the field. Lets get to work. And they did. They did an awesome job. Every guy.”
The opening quarter was a shootout. The Tigers (3-1) jumped out to a 2-0 lead and Wilton (3-3) tied the game on goals by Liam Sullivan and Robbie Hermann 13 seconds apart. The teams exchanged goals the rest of the period, with a bullet by Joe Scarfi with eight seconds left giving Wilton a 5-4 lead.
By the time Zach Zeyher scored the Warriors’ next goal, there was 10:27 left in the game and they were trailing 10-5.
“The first quarter was a little crazy,” Wilton coach John Wiseman said. “We were just trading blows. It was not really sustainable for either side. Most of those goals were fast breaks on our side, fast breaks on their side. But they settled down and they played a good offensive game and we didn’t hold them on de like we needed to.”
Seven different players scored for the Warriors, who were coming off a 9-8 loss to Chaminade. It was their second one-goal loss to a quality team. The first came against New Canaan.
Wilton came into the season with hopes beyond finishing high in the standings. All of the defeats have come against elite opponents, but teams the Warriors will need to beat in the future to realize their goals.
The schedule gets no easier. Next up is a road game Saturday at Darien.
“We’re a little schizophrenic so we have to figure that out,” Wiseman said. “They had some incredible moments. They’ve got to play 48 minutes. We have to get the team that knows how to play, we have to get them 48 minutes.”
At least one opposing coach is not writing the Warriors off.
“It’s a really fun rivalry game and it’s just round one,” Colsey said. “I’m sure we’ll see each other again.”