GREENWICH — Greenwich Academy certainly didn’t mind putting in some overtime on Wednesday.
The extra time on the field was well worth it for the Gators soccer team, which earned a return trip to the FAA Tournament finals with their most dramatic win to date.
Sophomore Tessa Brooks’ goal with 8 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the second overtime gave top-seeded Greenwich Academy an exciting 2-1 win over fourth-seeded St. Luke’s School in the semifinal-round of the FAA Soccer Tournament.
The Gators () advanced to Friday’s 2 p.m. tournament finals, where they will host second-seeded Hopkins School in a rematch of last season’s championship match. GA registered a 2-0 triumph against Hopkins in the title game a year ago.
On the winning goal, Brooks lofted an arcing shot over the head of Storm senior goalie Samantha Grayson that reached the top right corner of the goal.
“I dribbled down the line and I saw an opportunity, so I tried to cross it but then it just went in over the goalie’s hands,” Brooks said of the game-winner. “I’m really excited about going to the finals. We put in a lot of hard work, so it’s good to see that it’s paid off.”
Grayson made 10 saves in goal for the Storm, who seized a 1-0 lead on sophomore midfielder Lea Panagiotidis’ goal early in the second half off a free kick. Time was running out for GA to earn another trip to the championship game, but sophomore midfielder Taylor Lane helped her team breathe easier. Her goal with 12:59 left in the second half tied the score at 1-1. Wide open after receiving a pass just outside the box, Lane directed her shot inside the right post from 25 yards out.
“Getting that goal was relieving for us, because then we were able to focus on our touches and the little things, instead of being so stressed about scoring,” Lane said. “We went into the second half knowing we had to play really strong, since St. Luke’s would bring all their energy out.”
With the score knotted at 1-1, GA held the possession the remainder of the first half, with Lane, Brooks and sophomore Katie Goldsmith creating chances. St. Luke’s senior defender Thaise Sundano worked hard throughout to prevent the Gators from capitalizing on their opportunities. Meanwhile, forward Caroline Lau, an eighth-grader, was active throughout offensively for the visitors.
“They were the No. 1 seed, so we knew it was going to be a tough game,” St. Luke’s coach Dan Clarke said. “The effort from our team was superb. They got a lucky break, I think, with the second goal and that was the difference.
Credit to them, they raised their game and made it difficult for us after we went up, 1-0. They changed their system and played more direct, which got the momentum going in their direction.”
Senior Emmeline Kelley helped lead the way defensively for GA, which received 11 saves from freshman goalie Ella Fugelsang.
“They played really well, they had a good game plan and they played tough,” said GA coach Alistair Lonsdale, whose squad dropped a 1-0 decision to St. Luke’s during the regular season. “Our kids played really hard and really well. Taylor scored a great goal for us, which was key.”
GREENWICH ACADEMY 2, ST. LUKE’S 1 (2 OT)
ST. LUKE’S 0 1 0 0 — 0
GREENWICH ACADEMY 0 1 0 1 — 2
Records: Greenwich Academy 13-4-1; St. Luke’s 9-6-1
Goals: SL — Lea Panagiotidis; GA — Taylor Lane, Tessa Brooks; Goalies; SL — Samantha Grayson (10 saves); GA — Ella Fugelsang (11 saves).