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FCIAC Girls Soccer: Ridgefield 2, Ludlowe 0 Still perfect

September 21, 2018

FAIRFIELD — With the season just passing the quarter pole, the Ridgefield girls’ soccer team looks very much like the same team that captured the Class LL championship last fall.

The Tigers used an overwhelming defense and an opportune offense to score once in each half and defeat a solid Fairfield Ludlowe squad 2-0 Thursday night at Taft Field.

Freshman midfielder Meredith Clifford scored both Ridgefield goals. The first came on a perfectly timed header off a corner kick from Caitlin Slaminko with 18:33 left in the first half and the second came with 17:46 remaining in the second when her direct kick from some 35 yards out found its way under the crossbar and over the fingertips of the Falcons’ keeper.

“Caitlin had a nice cross, right to me and I was able to get away from my player and I headed it back,” Clifford said. “The other one? I just had some space and took the shot. It went right between her fingers.”

The victory was the fifth straight without a loss for the Tigers — who won the LL crown last year and were in the CIAC finals in both 2016 and 2015 — and pushed their unscored on streak to 400 minutes this season. Five games. Five shutouts.

Still, Tigers coach Iain Golding wasn’t the happiest of winners on this night.

“To be honest, I’m a little frustrated. I don’t think we played very well,” Golding said. “Obviously, it’s nice to come out with a win but for me, I’m disappointed in how we played. I demanded a lot from the players and I don’t think they were able to deliver in how well we can perform.”

Despite Ridgefield holding most of the possession throughout the first half, Ludlowe (3-2-1) was able to get some opportunities in the first half as Georgia Hoey just missed wide left on a shot from just outside the top of the box and a few minutes later, Zelle Halloran’s direct kick was stopped on a diving save from Tigers keeper Lauren Castle.

“I thought in the first 25 minutes of the game, we had good possessions, we were moving well,” Ludlowe coach Peter Nikac said. “You know … hanging in there but on that set play, unfortunately, the header hurt and the second one, we sat back and gave her some space and that goal took a little of the wind out of our sails.”

Comfortably ahead by two, the Tigers were content to play wide and push the Falcons away from ever challenging in the box, using their speed on the wings to keep Ludlowe from mounting any kind of comeback run.

“Their defense is very structured, their defense is very good,” Nikac said. “They make contact every time, they have speed and you can see they have the size, so we know that every ball in the air, they’re going to have a good challenge for. We were not able to challenge their goalie nearly as much as we wanted to.”

Clifford is one of two freshmen on the Tigers roster, along with six sophomores, as Golding continues to reload his squad with the end result being another trip to the Class LL finals.

“Obviously, we do our best to work the players in and if we think they’re good enough and able enough, then we put them in,” Golding said. “Obviously, tonight, (Clifford) stepped up big for us.”

celsberry@ctpost.com

RIDGEFIELD 2, LUDLOWE 0

RIDGEFIELD 1 1 — 2

LUDLOWE 0 0 — 0

Records: Ludlowe (3-2-1); Ridgefield (5-0-0). Scoring: R — Meredith Clifford (2 goals) Caitlin Slaminko (1 assist). Shots: R — 12; L — 7. Saves: R — Lauren Castle (7); L — Maddie Herron (11)

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