Girls soccer: Wilton falls in FCIAC quarterfinals (updated)

The Wilton High girls soccer team out-played and out-hustled Ridgefield in Saturday’s FCIAC quarterfinal game.

But the Warriors couldn’t outscore their host.

Third-seed Ridgefield scored three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to edge sixth-seed Wilton, 4-3, with the winning goal coming with just 42.8 seconds to play to deal the Warriors the heart-breaking loss.

“It’s frustrating that we didn’t come away with a win,” said Wilton head coach Megan Rodriguez, whose team will now compete in the Class L state tournament. “I got a great effort by the entire team. We just didn’t protect the lead.”

Rodriguez even changed her team’s formation by adding an extra defender, but the strategy didn’t pay off.

If you had to hand out a game ball, you would have had to hand out a bunch. A lot of Warriors made slide tackles to win 50/50 balls and worked hard at both ends of the field.

Sophomore Hannah Maatallah, who has contributed more and more each game, turned in a solid performance on the back line. Lindsay Knutson and Jayne Maccio were all over the field tracking down balls and setting up their teammates.

Ridgefield had a chance for an early lead, but Wilton goalie Liz Forster came out of the net for the save on a breakaway by the Tigers.

Casey Pearsall then got things started for the Warriors with a goal with 25:35 left in the opening half. Nicki Rutishauser lofted a free kick from just inside the midfield stripe that Pearsall tracked down and headed over the approaching Tiger goalie.

Ridgefield tied the game with 12:37 to play in the first half and the two teams carried the 1-1 score into the break. The Tigers’ goal came after Ridgefield was awarded a free kick at midfield on a questionable call.

Four minutes into the second half, Maccio lobbed a long ball up the field that found Knutson just as she was splitting two defenders. Knutson did just what Pearsall had done, lifting the ball over the charging Ridgefield goalie for the 2-1 lead.

About a minute later, Maccio found Knutson open again near the net, but Knutson’s shot was off the mark.

Three minutes later, Kayla O’Brien made it 3-1 when she cleaned up a rebound of a Knutson shot.

The Warriors had several good looks at the net to put the game away, but the attempts failed wide or high.

Those misses proved costly as the home team didn’t fold and started eating away at the Warrior lead, scoring with 19:11 left to pull within one goal and then getting the equalizer with 8:35 left in the game.

Ridgefield then got the game-winner from Sarah Battipaglia with under a minute to play.

Notes: Forster finished with seven saves, while Wilton had 12 shots on net.

Several Wilton players had to leave the game after suffering injuries, forcing Rodriguez to adjust her lineup accordingly. Rutishauser suffered a bloody nose in the first half; Tegan Helms took a hard fall; Lauren Kozakiewicz sustained a leg injury late in the game; and Maccio had to come off the field several times for different injuries. Kozakiewicz was the only one not able to return to the field.