RIDGEFIELD — When the Ridgefield boys soccer team’s season ended last October, Adam Biernat knew his time with the sport, which he had played all his life, had also come to a conclusion.
Soon after, some members of the school’s football team, including quarterback Owen Matthews, middle linebacker Danny Moroney and defensive back Dean Habeeb, told Biernat that the Tigers needed a kicker, a perfect match for his skill set.
“I played soccer my whole life and it really wasn’t my thing anymore,” Biernat said. “I wasn’t feeling the team chemistry anymore. And a lot of my friends played football. So I went in and started training with the team, started going to all the liftings, the morning runs and I fully became part of the team and realized I had a lot of fun while doing it too.”
Biernat had never attempted a field goal in a game before Friday night, but his 37-yard field goal as time expired gave Ridgefield its first win over New Canaan since 2006, 17-14.
For a weekend, Biernat became a town celebrity. When he showed up at work the following day at the popular Hoodoo Brown BBQ restaurant, the staff was aware of his accomplishment.
“I’ve had a lot of support from the community and everyone at the restaurant congratulated me,” Biernat said.
Biernat’s change of sports has become something of a tradition: this is the third straight year Ridgefield coach Kevin Callahan has had the special teams position filled by a former soccer player.
“We have a thing now at Ridgefield where we get soccer guys their senior year hop over to us,” Callahan said. “They don’t see their future senior year with soccer and they may come over. I’ve had juniors tell me they’ll be doing this next year for us. They throw themselves into it.”
That was how Biernat found himself under the spotlight Friday. He joined the team at the beginning of March. Biernat and long snapper Will Everdell trained at Clutch Kicks, a national network that has coaches at all levels working with kickers and punters.
“They taught fundamental stuff,” Biernat said. “Once I learned that, I could build upon it in practice. Once I knew the fundamentals, knew what I was supposed to do, it got better and better more quickly. It wasn’t that hard of a transition after that.”
Biernat did not attempt a field goal in the season opener against Fairfield Warde. He missed a 38-yard field goal early against New Canaan, then was off from 51 yards — Callahan took the low-risk chance since misses give the opposition the ball at their own 20-yard line.
Ridgefield drove from its own 12-yard line following an interception by Chris Lang with 1:33 left and the score tied at 14-14. Callahan had confidence in Biernat and was not overly aggressive trying for a touchdown once the Tigers got within field goal range.
Biernat faced a long delay before his try. The Rams called two timeouts. And a number of New Canaan fans had rushed to a fence behind the end zone and had to be moved by Dane Street, Ridgefield’s athletic director.
Biernat overcame the distractions and placed his kick inside the left upright, etching his name into program lore after just two games.
“I tried to cancel most of it out,” Biernat said. “The first kick I tried, I was thinking about it. I tried to have nothing in my head. I tried to keep a clear mind. I knew if I was focusing on the other team saying stuff to me on the sidelines, or the New Canaan student section climbing the fence trying to distract me, if they were able to get in my mind than I’d probably miss. I don’t even remember the kick really. It was just one moment, how I practice.”