RIDGEFIELD -- It was a case of chasing the Tiger's tail.
Thursday night's boys soccer game at Ridgefield's Tiger Hollow followed a predictable pattern: Ridgefield would score and Darien would respond. When the music stopped, though, the Wave came up short in a 5-4 loss.
"We were always chasing," Darien coach Jon Bradley said. While the Wave never led the Tigers, they also never gave up.
The slippery conditions on a damp and foggy night made for some interesting ball play in the high-scoring match.
The fact that this was a close game was hardly a surprise. The two teams came into the match with comparable records -- Darien was 5-2 and Ridgefield was 5-1 -- and both teams showcase high-octane offenses with less formidable defenses.
Including tonight's game, Ridgefield's offense has scored five goals in each of its last three outings.
"We can't win if we're letting in five goals," Darien captain Spencer McMullin said. "We definitely need to fix the back. Once we get that down, I'm sure we'll win a lot more."
Darien's defense took a particular hard hit when one of its key center backs, Graham Helgans, went out with an ankle injury.
For its part, Ridgefield was also concerned about its back line.
"We have to fix a lot of defensive problems and midfielders dropping back," Ridgefield captain Kent Coleman said. "We've really been relying on our offense, but that is not going to cut it against top teams."
Ridgefield's offense made a statement early in the game, netting two goals in the first nine minutes.
The first score came when the Tigers' Killian Clancy fired a shot just inside the box which was batted away by Blue Wave goalkeeper Jack Fisher. Clancy was then able to collect the rebound on his own shot and put it away.
A few minutes later, Coleman received a crossing pass from Connor Findlay and chipped a shot that bounced off the post, the crossbar, and finally into the back of Darien's net.
Even with an early two-goal deficit, Darien remained resolute.
The Wave offense, which was hindered by multiple offside calls, finally got on the scoreboard when Ben Highton battled through a wall of Tiger defenders and was able to get off a shot to the lower right corner.
At the break, the Tigers led 2-1.
Darien scored 30 seconds into the second half when freshman Bartosz Dziedzic found the back of the goal, after receiving a feed from McMullin.
The score see-sawed from there.
"That's just the way it goes; you get a goal and the momentum goes the other way," Ridgefield coach Phil Bergen said.
Alex Northcut registered a goal for Ridgefield, and junior Daniel Standish netted two, including the game-winner with 6:32 remaining.
Brennan Branca and McMullin both added goals for the Wave.
"It was very frustrating but good to see that we can work just as hard as any other team and compete with the top teams in the FCIAC," Highton said. "It was a hell of an effort, but unfortunately we came out short."
Ridgefield's goalkeeper Cal Dearth registered six saves and Darien's Fisher notched seven.
Coleman was upbeat about his Tigers.
"This win really motivates us," Coleman said. "It is a huge confidence boost, but we also know this is not the best brand of soccer we can play."