Tiger Hollow is not a fun place to play — unless you’re a Ridgefield Tiger.
The handsome stadium is filled with raucous fans. It takes a long time to get there. Even very good teams often leave Tiger Hollow with their tail tucked ‘tween their legs.
The Wreckers — 10-1 overall, 10-0 in the FCIAC — traveled north to take on the 9-1 Tigers minus captain Alan Reiter (college visit). The central midfielder’s spot was taken by Matteo Marzoli, and from the opening whistle it was clear Staples adapted without missing a beat.
Marzoli sent Mike White through in the 5th minute. It didn’t work — but 2 minutes later Greg Gudis won a hard tackle, Ridgefield stepped up on an offside trap — and Marzoli hit Scott again. The hard-working midfielder streaked upfield — onside — and drew out keeper Sean Ceponis. It was as pure a 1-0n-1 situation as you’ll ever see — and Scott maintained complete poise. He finished confidently, giving his side an important early lead.
The Tigers’ trap worked well — they caught the Wreckers more than half a dozen times in the 1st half — but that also showed how often the blue-and-whites were getting forward. The Wreckers seemed to always have numbers behind the ball, then have those same numbers upfield on the attack. Ceponis made a great save with 3 minutes left before halftime, to keep his team down by only 1.
Staples kept up the 2nd half pressure. They also tightened up even more in back. With Jack Hennessy leading centrally, Frankie Bergonzi and Sean Gallagher patrolling the flanks and Mikey Fitzgerald and Steven Denowitz manning the 1st line of defense, the Tigers were limited to mostly long-range shots. But Harvard-bound striker Connor McCarthy is always dangerous, and he kept the Wreckers honest — they shrunk the field, but could not send too many defenders forward at once.
Scott, Drew McNair and Jake Krosse handled the outside midfield chores, while the Marzoli-Brendan Lesch partnership clicked nicely. Lesch covered tremendous ground — winning balls, initiating attacks, and getting himself far up often.
Gudis and White kept constant pressure on Ridgefield’s backs. But the 2nd score came from an unlikely source. In the 76th minute Krosse launched a fine run to the corner. He then cut inside, and sliced a ball that was too hot to handle. It was banged in by a defender for an own goal — but Krosse made it happen.
“This was a huge win,” said head coach Dan Woog. “It’s been a very tough week, and playing a real strong team here, in Tiger Hollow, can be intimidating. But we ended the week 3-0 — without letting up a goal — and we did it playing Staples soccer. My hat is off to all our guys.”
Staples’ tough tests continue Tuesday, with a 4 p.m. match on the Greenwich turf. The Cardinals are 3rd in the FCIAC, with a 7-1-2 record. FINAL SCORE: Staples 2, Ridgefield 0. Season record: 11-0 FCIAC; 11-1 overall.
QUICK KICKS: Staples outshot Ridgefield 12-10, but had 8 corner kicks to the Tigers’ 0….
Ridgefield star Connor McCarthy combines the name of 2 Staples keepers: Connor Walsh and Michael McCarthy….
The junior varsity shut out a solid Ridgefield side, 3-0. Goals came from Stephan Patterson, Spencer Adler and George Birch. Coach Ross McGibney’s jayvees are now 9-0-1….
The freshmen played an undefeated team for the 2nd match in a row — and for the 2nd straight time, knocked them from the unbeaten ranks. The Wreckers’ 1-0 victory was sealed by a Noah Bender tap-in following a defensive miscue. Walker Marsh had a great game (and sacrificed his body to block a shot on an open net). Ryan Petersen shined in goal, while Dylan Hoy distributed nicely….
Earlier this week at Sakura, all 8 soccer players at 1 table successfully caught tossed shrimp with their mouths. Congratulations to Frankie Bergonzi, Brendan Lesch, Mike White, Matteo Marzoli, Sean Gallagher, Mikey Scott, Greg Gudis and James Hickok….
Chris Meinke ’05, the assistant girls coach, took over this week in head coach Brian Scott’s absence. The 3-2 win over Darien gives Chris a 1.000 lifetime coaching record.