NEW HAVEN >> Greenwich Academy girls soccer coach Allistair Lonsdale knows plenty about Hopkins’ duo scoring threat, Mia Ciardiello and Alex McCraven.
Not only has Lonsdale competed against them for several years, he also coached them in both ODP and CFC. So the game plan for Friday’s Fairchester Athletic Association tournament final was obvious, yet daunting to achieve.
“We needed to shut down Alexandra McCraven and Mia Ciardiello,” Lonsdale said. “They are both phenomenal players. I knew going into it the only way we could win this game was stop those two.”
Greenwich Academy kept McCraven and Ciardiello off the scoreboard – as well as the other Hilltoppers – to win the Fairchester crown 2-0 at Parr Field.
“It was a really tough season, but once the FAA tournament began, all that disappeared,” said senior midfielder Chapin Ruffa, who scored both goals. “It was a completely clean slate. We had to come out here and prove ourselves.”
This is the second game within a week that Greenwich Academy (6-6-6) held Hopkins (11-6-2) scoreless. The two teams played to a scoreless tie last Saturday in Greenwich.
“We had a really bad start to the season, but we came together at the right time,” Lonsdale said. “The kids worked really hard in the second half of the season. This team came so far this season, it’s phenomenal.”
The Hilltoppers were held without a shot attempt in the first half.
It took less than 14 minutes for Greenwich Academy to break Friday’s scoreless deadlock. Ruffa scored the first of her two goals despite a swirling wind that played havoc throughout.
“I think Cora (Creighton) crossed it in and I tried to head it and the goalie (Jessica D’Errico) tapped it and I saw the loose ball and the goalie was out of the goal so I tapped it in,” Ruffa said.
Ruffa beat D’Errico for a second time on a pass crossed over from Katie Goldsmith in the second half.
“I’ve only scored one other goal on varsity the last four years so it’s really exciting,” Ruffa said. “I really wanted to come out here and prove we were the best team in the FAA.”
Casanova dropped Ciardiello into the midfield in the first half, but the Hilltoppers just couldn’t generate any offense. It was the team’s first year playing in the Fairchester tournament and was missing three starters Friday due to injury.
“We had two touch games (in the tournament). We won in the quarterfinals on penalty kicks,” Hopkins coach Gerard Casanova said. “Physically that took a toll on our players.”
Now Hopkins awaits a potential bid into the NEPSAC tournament. If the Hilltoppers don’t get one, they say goodbye to seven seniors, including both McCraven (Brown) and Ciardiello (Villanova).
“There is no doubt the two of them brought us here,” Casanova said. “We have a lot of talented players who make the difference for us, but their leadership on and off the field has been impeccable for two years. There is no doubt we owe them a debt of gratitude.”
Greenwich Academy 2, Hopkins 0
(at New Haven)
Greenwich Academy 1 1 — 2
Hopkins 0 0 — 0
First half—GA: Chapin Ruffa (Cora Creighton) 13:15; Second half—GA: Chapin Ruffa (Katie Goldsmith) 54:33;
Shots—GA: 12; HOP: 3;
Saves—GA: Katie Goldsmith 1; HOP: Jessica DErrico 6;
Records—Greenwich Academy 6-6-6; Hopkins 11-6-2