Ten games into its season, the Greenwich Academy field hockey team’s results include nine victories, eight shutouts, 50 goals and not surprisingly, zero losses.
Showcasing its skill and depth at each position, Greenwich Academy sports a 9-0-1 record through 10 games and though there are still seven matchups remaining on its schedule, it looks every bit like a squad that’s poised for yet another strong postseason run.
GA, which posted its ninth win on Monday, a 5-2 road triumph against Rye Country Day School, advanced to the championship game of the FAA Tournament and the semifinals of the NEPSAC Class A Tournament in 2018.
“A large part of our success is that we’re keeping up with our fitness and still working well together,” Greenwich Academy forward/co-captain Grace Schulze said. “Each practice, we’re learning new things and we’re building off that, not just repeating things and going through the motions.”
Along with senior forward Elektra Rodger, junior forward Lila Murray and senior midfielder Katharine Glassmeyer, Schulze is one of the Gators’ leading scorers.
Through 10 games, Greenwich Academy has outscored the opposition, 50-3.
“One of our biggest strengths so far is our ability to adjust on the fly,” said senior co-captain Maya Walker, who has helped anchor the Gators’ effective defensive unit. “If something isn’t going well, we’ve been good at changing it and making adjustments.”
The first six games saw GA post shutout victories against Hackley, King, Noble and Greenough, Choate Rosemary Hall, St. Luke’s and Hopkins. A showdown on the road against NEPSAC rival Hotchkiss School ended in a hard-fought 1-1 tie.
“The Hotchkiss game was the first time we were faced with being behind, we were losing 1-0,” Schulze said. “I think it was good to have that under our belt, because we could take it into our next games and it will help us to maintain our confidence and play our game, without any distractions.”
GA coach Jamie Brower is impressed with the poise her squad has shown when the games have been tight.
“The last few weeks, we’ve found ourselves down in a game, while we were having trouble putting the ball in the net,” said Brower, whose team lost to Sacred Heart Greenwich in the FAA Tournament final in 2018 and Phillips Andover Academy in the NEPSAC semifinals. “Against Rye Country Day and Kent it was 0-0 at halftime. So I like the fact that in both those situations, the kids battled back. The same with the Hotchkiss situation, they scored first, so we had to battle back. We stuck to the game plan, we were not freaking out and we knew what we had to do, even it if wasn’t pretty, or perfect.”
Junior Kathryn Gregory has successfully filled the role as the team’s starting goalie in her first season on the varsity squad.
“It’s been super exciting for our goalie, who is still pretty fresh in the cage and who’s been working hard,” Schulze said. “So hats off to her for keeping us in some of these type of games.”
Added Walker: “She’s (Gregory) been going above and beyond to do what she needs for the team, which is something that’s been helpful for us. It’s good to know we have a wall back there, it gives us a sense of security.”
Like most winning high school teams, the Gators have received exceptional leadership thus far from its six seniors — Schulze, Walker, Glassmeyer, Evelyn Barringer, Rodger and Antonia Packard.
“Our senior class is really stepping up, all six of them,” Brower said. “With our six seniors, we have two forwards, two backs and two middies, so our leadership has been spaced out all over the field.”
GA’s juniors and underclassmen have also made key contributions.
“Our young players want to get on the field, so they have all stepped up their game,” Brower said. “We’ve had moments when we had to put the younger kids in big games and moments and they have done a really good job.”
As the amount of shutouts the team has registered indicates, penalty corner defense is an area GA has excelled at.
Walker, Schulze, Packard and Glassmeyer have helped anchor the defensive corner unit.
“They are a smart defensive corner unit and do a really good job of filling their roles,” Brower said.
Scoring on penalty corners hasn’t been much of an issue for Greenwich Academy, though it’s an aspect most teams can improve upon.
“We do a good job of drawing them and getting the ball in the circle,” Schulze said. “We just need to find the right combination, which will lead to a higher success rate on our corners.”
Following an FAA road matchup against Greens Farms Academy on Thursday, Greenwich Academy hosts Tabor Academy on Saturday. They will visit Holy Child on Wednesday, before neighborhood rival Sacred Heart Greenwich visits Greenwich Academy on Oct. 19 in a rematch of last season’s FAA Tournament final.
“It’s always an interesting game with Sacred Heart,” Walker said. “We are pretty similar in terms of personnel, so it usually comes down to the mental aspect. They are a 10-minute drive away and they are one of our biggest rivals — it’s fun.”
Indeed seniors such as Walker and Schulze savor each game they play in their final season on the squad.
“It’s our senior season, so the little wins along the way are exciting for us too,” Walker said. “So far, almost everyone on our team has scored — we’re working to set each other up.”
“We’re just enjoying it day-by-day,” Schulze added. “Before we know it, it will be over.”