GREENWICH — Like last season, the FAA Soccer Tournament semifinals between Greenwich Academy and Sacred Heart Greenwich had both teams working overtime, with the score tied after 80 minutes of intense, back-and-forth action.
And like last season, the Gators edged the Tigers to earn the right to play for yet another tournament title.
Overtime goals from Taylor Glanville and Taylor Lane propelled fourth-seeded Greenwich Academy to a dramatic 3-1 win over top-seeded host Sacred Heart.
Greenwich Academy (11-3-4) advanced to Friday’s FAA Tournament final, where it will visit second-seeded St. Luke’s School in New Canaan. The title game is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. on Friday, but the time may be moved up to 12 p.m.
GA, which received three assists from senior forward Tessa Brooks, has captured the conference tournament championship the past three seasons.
“We’ve worked so hard for this,” Brooks said. “We knew it was going to be tough coming down here, we had to be up for it and we are really happy with the result.”
In 2018, the Gators edged the Tigers in the FAA semifinals on penalty kicks after the score was knotted at 3-3 following the two, 10-minute overtime sessions.
“Sacred Heart always brings great spirit, with a lot of their fans coming to the game and it amps us up even more, even when we’re away,” said Lane, a senior midfielder/co-captain. “We’re looking forward to the final and we’re going for the four-peat for the seniors.”
While GA is moving on to the finals and also hopes to earn a berth in the NEPSAC Tournament, Sacred Heart’s season ended with a record of 10-7. The Tigers were 7-2 against FAA foes and won their first FAA regular season championship.
“It’s been an unbelievable season,” Sacred Heart coach Stuart Smith said. “We beat Loomis (Chaffee) for the first time, we won the FAA league title for the first time and we were the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Our team doesn’t have any regrets, they left everything on the field. GA is always a really competitive game for us. Both teams have a lot of respect for each other and it’s always a battle.”
Glanville scored the go-ahead goal with 7:36 remaining in the second of two 10-minute overtime periods. Brooks sent her corner kick into the box, which was cleared by Sacred Heart. The ball found Brooks’ foot again and she put a cross into the box and the opportunistic Glanville rose up for a header and knocked the ball past Tigers sophomore goalie Megan Maloney, giving GA a 2-1 lead.
In the 2018 FAA Tournament final against Greens Farms Academy, Glanville scored the game-winning goal for the Gators in their 1-0 triumph.
“I have good timing, I guess,” a smiling Glanville said. “It was exciting and fun to be a part of a game like that and if we had lost it would have been so upsetting. It was so stressful, I didn’t want it to go into penalty kicks like last year.”
Lane sealed the Gators’ second win of the season over the Tigers with a tally in the 17th minute of overtime. The goal was again, the result of a corner kick by Brooks.
“Tessa’s corner kicks made every goal happen today, we rely on her so much,” Lane said. “Our effort was great from defense to offense.”
Trailing 1-0, Sacred Heart evened the score before their enthusiastic home crowd in the 42nd minute. Senior midfielder/forward Amelia Sheehan made her way past several players and delivered a cross into the box that found his way by GA junior goalie Ella Fugelsang inside the far post, making it 1-1.
The home team nearly tallied the go-ahead goal at the 21:27 mark of the second half. Fugelsang made a diving save off a shot from Tigers junior goalie Lara Patricio, who received a pass from eighth-grader Madison Hart.
Fugelsang and Maloney stood tall in goal for their respective squads. Maloney made 8 saves, while Fugelsang stopped nine shots.
“We got the goal to tie it up and I think the turning point was their keeper made a couple of big saves after that,” Smith said. “Those were big moments at a time when we had the momentum.”
Fugelsang knew what type of game to expect heading into the matcup against the rival Tigers.
“Although it’s kind of stressful in those situations, I think that’s what makes our team come together,” Fugelsang said. “We all pick each other up and we play as one.”
Greenwich Academy seized a 1-0 advantage with 15:24 remaining in the first half. Brooks’ corner kick was gathered by sophomore forward Lauren Harteveldt in the box. Her initial shot bounded off Maloney, but she knocked the rebound into the goal, giving GA a 1-0 lead.
Sparked by Sheehan, sophomore Charlotte Marvin, Patricio, senior Leah Atkins and junior Alana Frederick, Sacred Heart created several chances and put pressure on the Gators late in the opening half.
Greenwich Academy senior defender/co-captain Christina Maldonado, junior Paige Lipman and Kit Harned sparked the team defensively and in the midfield, while senior Katie Goldsmith, Brooks and Lane helped pace the team offensively.
“Our defense was really strong,” Fugelsang said. “They worked so hard to get to every single ball.”
— Greenwich Time Spts (@GreenwichSports) November 7, 2019
SENSATIONAL SET PIECES
As the season has progressed, GA has become dangerous on set pieces.
“We knew it was going to be the little set pieces that would get it in for us,” Brooks said. “We are really happy with that result.”
Said Smith: “They are strong in the air and are dominant on corner kicks. Set pieces were key to the game, they really decided the game.”
“It’s always emotional out there when they get that second goal in overtime,” Marvin said. “We knew we had to fight, but you kind of lose that energy close to the end. But the seniors give you reason to fight and that really says something about them.”
Said GA coach Alistair Lonsdale: “Sacred Heart played good defense on us. They had a good second half, the first 15, 20 minutes, they were on top. Then we came on strong. I felt better and better the more the extra time went on.”
GREENWICH ACADEMY 3, SACRED HEART 1 (OT)
GREENWICH ACADEMY 1 0 2 – 3
SACRED HEART 0 1 0 – 3
Goals: GA – Lauren Harteveldt, Taylor Glanville, Taylor Glanville; SH – Amelia Sheehan; Assists: GA – Tessa Brooks 3; Goalies: SH – Megan Maloney (8 saves); GA – Ella Fugelsang (9 saves).