STAMFORD — Greenwich Academy needed a win on its Senior Night to improve its hopes of qualifying for the NEPSAC Tournament, but its opponent Worcester Academy was in the same situation Friday evening.
Facing a two-goal deficit following the first period, GA gained some momentum by tallying the opening goal of the second period. But the visitors from Worcester, Mass., had a way of making the most of their chances in this NEPSAC matchup.
Receiving a hat trick from Grace Bruno, Worcester scored twice in each period en route to skating to a 6-1 victory over Greenwich Academy in a hockey matchup held at Chelsea Piers Connecticut.
The Gators, who celebrated their Senior Night, were in seventh place in the NEPSAC standings heading into the game, according to coach Erin Brawley. The top eight teams qualify for the conference tournament. Worcester (12-9-3) was also in the mix for a postseason bid.
With the loss, GA finished its regular season at 9-9-1 and will wait to see if they are selected to compete in the NEPSAC Championships. They should find out on Saturday Brawley said.
GA’s goal was scored by Kayla Ketchabaw, who tallied in the second period off a pass from senior tri-captain Bobbi Roca. The contest was the final regular-season matchup captains Roca, Grace Curran and Paige Keating.
“We came into this game giving it our all, knowing this was our last game of the regular season,” said Roca, who played both defense and forward for the Gators this season. “We knew we just had to leave it all out there.”
Roca relished her role as one of the captains and enjoyed being part of the GA hockey program the past four seasons.
“I like to think of it as us starting as teammates and ending it as a family every year,” said Roca, one of the Gators’ leading scorers. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls to play with. Every day the girls made me want to come to practice and work hard. You want to do everything for them.”
The final score wasn’t indicative of how competitive the game was. The Gators registered 26 shots on goal, while Worcester got the puck to the net 34 times.
“I thought we could have won it going in, everyone was going 100 percent throughout the game,” said Curran, a senior forward, who also sparked the squad offensively throughout the season. “We were just not capitalizing on all of our shots and rebounds. But our energy was just awesome.
Being one of the captains of this team was amazing. Everyone was always so cheerful and upbeat. It was so easy to lead, especially with Bobbi and Paige by my side.”
Keating helped anchor GA’s blue line each game. She also competed on the school’s soccer teams each season and will begin another season on the track team in the spring.
“I think it is the best experience I ever had at GA, the grit and heart that our team has is incredible,” Keating said. “I’ve never been on a team that bonded like we did this year. I really learned relationships are important and that if you bond as a team the wins will come.”
Sophomore Ciara Wall’s rebound goal with 6:28 remaining in the first period gave Worcester a 2-0 lead. GA trimmed the deficit to 2-1 when Roca sent a pass from the boards to Ketchabaw, who gathered the puck just above the right face-off circle and snapped a shot past Worcester senior goalie Meagan Miranda, making it 2-1 with 13:50 left in the second period.
That was all Miranda allowed to get by her however, as she made 25 saves in goal.
“We had a good first period and got up 2-0,” Worcester Academy coach Kevin Zifcak said. “Greenwich came out with a lot of life in the second period and scored that goal, but our kids responded.”
The visitors ended the second period with goals from Laura Hill and Bruno, who then added two more tallies in the third period. Greenwich Academy freshman goalie Emily Greenhaw was stellar though, making 28 saves.
“They are a very good team, every year we play them they get better every time,” GA first-year coach Erin Brawley said of Worcester. “They are physical, they are fast and they get the puck deep on net and they try to go to work. I thought our effort was phenomenal.”
Brawley liked how her squad skated throughout and intensity they displayed on both ends of the ice.
“All three senior captains were great,” Brawley said. “Bobbi Roca was always pushing the pace and getting shots on net, Paige Keating did really well as a center back and Grace did everything she could to try to score goals. Grace Schulze, Hamilton Doster and Eliza Bowman — they were blocking pucks and getting to the net.”
Brawley knows the future is bright for the squad.
“We have 10 freshman, two eighth graders and a good core of juniors and sophomores, so next year we should also have a strong team,” she said.