Greenwich High boys soccer falls to Ridgefield in FCIAC semis

The Greenwich High School boys soccer team had a plethora of opportunities to get on the scoreboard during Tuesday’s Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference semifinal match-up against Ridgefield.

However, the Cards weren’t able to push the ball in the back of the net, as the Tigers came away with the 2-0 victory and claimed the co-FCIAC championship.

“Today we just didn’t have our shooting boots on,” Greenwich head coach Kurt Putnam said. “If you’re not creating chances, it’s worrying. When you create the amount of chances that we create and didn’t take any of them, I tell them that we just need to keep doing the same thing. I thought today their top two guys up top caused us more problems in this game than they did in the league game. They worked off each other well and we made some poor tactical decisions.”

The duo of John Findlay and Kent Coleman put the Tigers on the scoreboard, while Joe DeVivo assisted on both goals and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. With the victory, Ridgefield won the a share of the FCIAC championship for the first time in 10 years and the first under head coach Phil Bergon.

“It’s an exciting thing,” Bergon said. “This team from the start demonstrated, both on the field and off, that they are really a cohesive club. This game could have gone either way. Those first two goals were important and we could have had a few more, but Greenwich could have gone in with some goals too. I think it was an evenly matched game and it was exciting.”

Big Red started the game with a golden opportunity to get on the board, as Pieter Zenner beat the Ridgefield defense and was all alone for the goal. However his shot landed right in the goalie’s hands. Two minutes later, Will Gittings had his chance at a goal, when he took the header in front of the net that was wide by mere inches.

With 21:35 to play in the first half, Aidan Rafferty took a header off a corner kick that missed the net and did the same thing nearly a minute later.

Finally, with 18:39 to play in the first half, Ridgefield broke through, as DeVivo advanced the ball up the field and passed off to Coleman, who fired a shot from five yards out that beat the GHS goalie for the 1-0 lead.

“I know for a fact that Greenwich was trying to watch him and when he did score, it really deflated Greenwich,” Bergon said. “It was an exciting game and I am so proud of these kids. Everybody is in this together and without that support, this championship doesn’t happen.”

Less than eight minutes later, the Tigers added another, as Findlay took the cross field pass by DeVivo and found the back of the net for the 2-0 lead.

“We go into the half 2-0 down because of mistakes,” Putnam said. “It’s been the kind of things that we’ve been trying to erase since our first Staples game.”

In the second half, Greenwich had several chances to make a dent into the deficit, as Rafferety, Gittings, Matt Parron and Julio Arnao each had open looks at the net during the second half.

“I thought, quite honestly, we could win by two or three goals,” Putnam said. “It could have also ended 5-5 because both teams had a bunch of chances. However when you look at the chances they had in the first half, they had only two. We gifted them.”

With the victory, the Tigers were able to accomplish something that not a lot of teams were able to do this season. In addition to Staples, Ridgefield was the only other team that was able to keep Greenwich off the scoreboard this season.

“I think both teams are pretty equal and there’s not much to be said about both teams,” Putnam said. “I think we created more chances in this game and we had the lead both times when we last played them in league play. I think what they did today quite effectively was the outside trap in the second half. We didn’t have enough game intelligence to break it down.”

Putnam said that one of the key contributors for the team’s loss was when the game was actually played. Two days before Hurricane Sandy attacked the tri-state area, Greenwich erased one of its demons and beat perennial powers Staples. However, instead of feeding off that momentum, Greenwich was forced to wait a week to continue play in the FCIAC tourney.

“I think not playing straight after hurt us,” Putnam said. “I think we had the biggest momentum going into the FCIAC semis, having beaten Staples the way that we did. Not playing for a week after the Staples game killed us.”

Although the Cardinals aren’t too thrilled with the result from Tuesday’s game, there isn’t too much time to sulk. Starting later today, Big Red will start play in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference class LL tournament.

Putnam said that instead of working on problems, he gave his team yesterday off and let them recover.

“I want them to rest and not to think too much and analyze this game,” Putnam said. “I don’t think we need to over-analyze. We just need to reflect on the fact that we didn’t take chances. I think we could win the state championship. On any given day we are as good as anybody in the conference. The way played since that Staples game and the way that we tore Staples apart, we got nothing to fear from anybody out there.”

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