FCIAC

Ridgefield’s Steidl, Vermont Catamounts head to NCAA tourney as America East champs

Former Ridgefield High School star Kurt Steidl is finishing his college basketball career in style as he and his Vermont Catamounts will get a taste of March Madness later this week.

Stedil nailed a pair of three-pointers during a second-half comeback which saw top-seeded Vermont defeat third-seeded Albany, 56-53, in the America East Conference championship game in Burlington, Vt., on Saturday.

It was the sixth America East title for the Catamounts, who also earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Vermont is the No. 13 seed in the Northwest Regional and will take on the No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers in the first round at 7:27 p.m., Thursday, March 16, in Milwaukee.

The Catamounts are 29-5 and boast the nation’s longest active winning streak at 21 games. They broke the program and conference record for most victories in a season, and are the only America East team in history to go undefeated in league play at 16-0.

In the America East final, Vermont trailed Albany, 47-38, in the fourth quarter when Steidl sparked a Vermont rally with a three-point bucket.

The Catamounts drew to within three points at 48-45 when Steidl nailed another trey to tie the score. Vermont then outscored Albany 8-5 the rest of the way to get the victory.

Steidl is averaging 8.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game for Vermont this season. He was named to the America East All-Conference Third Team last year, and was named to the America East All-Rookie Team as a freshman in 2014.

Ridgefield’s Kurt Steidl in action for the Vermont Catamounts. — University of Vermont athletics photo