TRUMBULL — Ridgefield boys lacrosse coach Roy Colsey is fortunately not a man set in his ways. If he was, he might have had a much more difficult time preparing his team for its latest state championship game appearance.
Colsey never faced what he had to deal with the previous 24 hours leading up to Ridgefield’s come-from-behind 8-5 victory over Fairfield Prep in the Class L final at Trumbull High School
Colsey’s son, freshman Kyle Colsey, felt ill yesterday and was eventually brought to an Urgent Care facility before heading to the hospital last night. Diagnosis: Kyle needed an emergency appendectomy, and he had the surgery this morning, mere hours before game time.
“I don’t want to dwell on it but he said his stomach was bothering him Friday and we thought it was just a stomach bug,” Roy Colsey said. “So my wife took him to Urgent Care and they said get him to the hospital immediately, and they removed his appendix this morning. It was tough because we couldn’t have a practice after losing one of our best players. We just had to adjust.”
It may have taken a while to get over the shock of losing such a key player, but Ridgefield adjusted. After Prep dominated the first 31 minutes — yet was able to hold just a 5-2 lead — the 14thseeded Tigers (16-6) recovered. Led by Kyle’s brother, junior Ryan Colsey, the Tigers captured their second state title since 2018 and third in school history.
“It was rough, unexpected, that’s for sure,” Ryan Colsey said. “We found out last night he wasn’t playing. It was kind of surreal. I’m not sure if we were stunned at first, but it was nothing we couldn’t overcome.”
With five minutes remaining in the third quarter it looked as if Prep was going to make Ridgefield the Class L runner-up for the fourth time since 2008. The eighth-seeded Jesuits (17-5) frustrated the Tigers with impressive ball control. Prep seemed to be in constant possession before everything changed.
“We controlled play at first but we didn’t have a possession after we led 5-2 until we trailed 8-5 (a second-half span of 11:30),” Prep coach Graham Niemi said. “We got all the groundballs early but not after.”
Prep got the groundballs, won the draws and rarely turned the ball over until the Tigers reversed everything in the third quarter. Before that Tim Shannehan had three goals in helping Prep build its lead, with Peter Grandolfo and Marco Firmender adding single tallies.
And while it might have made for a poor screenplay, it only figured that it would be a Colsey who would be the catalyst in Ridgefield’s about-face.
“Things weren’t going our way but we had faith,” Ryan Colsey said. “It was nothing we couldn’t overcome.”
Ryan Colsey finished with four goals but three came during the 6-0 onslaught that started with his goal with 4:40 remaining in the third quarter. He had faith in his team’s ability to come back, just as he had faith that his brother would be fine.
Kyle recovered, all right. So much so that he was at McDougall Stadium for the game.
“No matter how much pain there was, I going to be here,” Kyle Colsey said. “I never experienced any pain like this, I’ve been perfectly healthy my whole life. I was bummed out when I realized I wasn’t going to play. It still hurts but there was no way I was going to miss this.”
After Colsey cut Prep’s lead to 5-3, Ridgefield’s Josiah deGrasse scored the second of his two goals 25 seconds later. And just 1:14 after that, it was Ethan McGerald tying it up at 5.
“We didn’t have many possessions early and didn’t win a lot of faceoffs,” Roy Colsey said of the early hole his team faced. “But once we started getting the ball, we knew we could score and Ryan played the way he was capable of playing. He understood what this meant; this was his moment.”
Luke Winkler, who also had an assist for the Tigers, scored what proved to be the game-winner in the first minute of the fourth quarter. Ryan Colsey, who has been slowed by a groin injury recently, then sent the dagger into the Jesuits with two great individual efforts 1:49 apart midway through the fourth quarter to make it 8-5.
There was still time for Prep, but only if it could regain their ball-control tactics. But the faceoffs and groundballs were being won by the Tigers and, ultimately, a day that began in a way Roy Colsey couldn’t imagine, ended with a third state championship.
NOTES: The 13 total goals translated to a low-scoring game for these teams. Ridgefield averaged 15 goals a game, Prep 13. … Ridgefield goalie Matt Shepard finished with nine saves while Prep’s Sam Cargill, the MVP of the SCC Tournament, stopped six shots. The shots on goal totals told the story: Prep 14-5 until leading 5-2; Ridgefield 9-0 after that. … Prep played four FCIAC teams in the Class L tournament: Greenwich, FCIAC champ Darien, Wilton and Ridgefield. Ridgefield played four non-FCIAC opponents en route to the title: Southington, Staples from the FCIAC, Simsbury, Hall and Prep. … Prep was making its 10th state final appearance and was looking for its seventh championship (last one in 2013). … The Tigers beat the Jesuits 13-5 back on April 17, but Prep won 15 of 17 before Saturday.