GREENWICH — Sacred Heart-Greenwich concluded its ultra-busy lacrosse week Saturday with its fourth win in six days and its final victory was, by far, its most significant.
That’s because the Tigers registered a resounding triumph against a team they always have circled on their calendar — rival Greenwich Academy.
Excelling on both ends of the field throughout the much-anticipated matchup, Sacred Heart posted a convincing 13-7 victory over host Greenwich Academy, raising its record to 9-2 with its fifth consecutive win.
Junior midfielders Ryan Smith and Lily DeConcini scored four goals apiece to help the Tigers defeat the Gators for the first time since they beat GA twice during the 2011 season.
“The energy our team had coming into this game was amazing,” Sacred Heart coach Tara Clough said. “The practice we had yesterday (Friday) was the highest level of intensity we’ve had all season. Our kids showed up today, they didn’t have the nerves and they played for each other.”
Sophomore Katie Keller recorded a hat trick, while freshman goalie Rachel Keefe made 14 saves for Sacred Heart, which outscored Greenwich Academy, 8-5 during the second half.
“We just played our own game, we pushed the transition, which helped us out,” Smith said. “Our defense held down the fort, which helped us thrive. There is a lot of leadership out there for us. When they scored, we had the mindset of let’s just go back and do it even better.”
The loss was the first of the season for Greenwich Academy (9-1) which entered the game playing at its usual high level. Turnovers plagued the Gators on Saturday. Senior Karina Schulze tallied twice and her sister, Grace, a sophomore, scored three times.
“We came out strong, but once we got into a hole it was hard for us to get ourselves out of it mentally,” Karina Schulze said. “We were in a lapse and it was hard for us to get out. They were playing ferocious, but I feel we were beating ourselves by making mistakes, which we definitely need to improve on.”
STRONG START FOR TIGERS
Receiving a pass from sophomore Taylor Lane, Karina Schulze put a shot past Keefe, giving the home team a 1-0 lead 1:26 into the opening half. Keller knotted the score by converting her free position attempt at the 17:58 mark of the first half. Sheehan gave the visitors the lead for good at 2-1, tallying off a dodge with 12:43 to go in the first half.
DeConcini scored on an 8-meter shot, making it 3-1, before GA pulled to within 3-2 on Lane’s goal off a pass from sophomore Katie Goldmsith with 4:36 left in the first half.
Sacred Heart went into halftime with the momentum by scoring two straight goals to take a 5-2 advantage. Smith put a low shot past GA senior goalie Maggie Reville at the 1:59 mark, then Keller caught a pass from senior Samantha Clark and tallied, putting the Tigers on top, 5-2, with 19 seconds remaining in the opening half.
“We executed efficiently on offense by keeping our heads up and looking for the next pass,” DeConcini said. “We are all such team players, which was key for us in pushing our offense and getting those goals.”
TIGERS TAKE CONTROL
The second half began with Sacred Heart scoring four unanswered goals to open a 9-2 edge. Smith converted a tough angle shot from the left side 30 seconds into the half and DeConcini scored shortly after junior Athena Corroon caused a turnover, making it 7-2.
Goals from Smith and DeConcini put GA in a 9-2 hole six minutes into the second half. The home team closed to within 9-5 on three straight goals by Grace Schulze, but that’s the closest they came, as Smith and DeConcini kept the Tigers’ offense rolling.
“Sacred Heart had a great game and they deserved this win,” GA coach Melissa Anderson said. “They pushed us onto our heels and we had a lot of trouble digging out, even when we had opportunities. They did a nice job of moving the ball and drawing and dumping off the second adjacent.
They moved off the ball well and their transition was great. They were able to convert a lot of their opportunities into goals.”
Said Clough: “GA is so athletic their stickwork is amazing, but we came out with a lot of confidence. As we had done all week, we moved the ball really well.”
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Smith and DeConcini tallied each time Greenwich Academy attempted to get back into the game. Keller was strong in goal, turning away several shots from close range. Corroon helped spark the victors’ defensive effort.
“We stayed in our settled defense, blocked off adjacents and really stayed wide on the clears and that really helped us,” Corroon said. “This win feels amazing, this is a great team and I am so happy to be a part of it. This will totally help us the rest of the season.”
“Losing to Sacred Heart always hurts more than other teams, but we should see them in the postseason that’s a lot of motivation,” Karina Schulze said. “We have a lot to work on before we get there.”