With most of its roster intact from last season, Greenwich Academy’s soccer team is primed to pick up where it left off in the fall of 2018.
And its finish a year ago was certainly impressive.
Edging Greens Farms Academy, 1-0, Greenwich Academy won its third straight FAA Tournament championship last November. GA registered a record of 12-3-4 last year and hopes to raise the bar even higher during the upcoming season.
“Everybody has really high expectations of each other and everyone has been pushing each other,” Gators senior co-captain/center midfielder Taylor Lane said. “We are having fun on the field together and I am really looking forward to seeing how we progress this fall.”
Senior co-captain Christina Maldonado returns to the backline, which was instrumental to the squad’s success in 2018.
“We are starting off pretty strong in the preseason and I feel like our team is close,” Maldonado said. “The new players are good and I feel that this is the best team we’ve had. I’m excited to see where we go from here.”
Coached by Alistair Lonsdale, Greenwich Academy opens its season Sept. 12 against FAA foe King School at home. Besides playing their FAA rivals, the Gators’ schedule includes formidable NEPSAC boarding school opponents.
“A lot of our players have played together for two or three years, so they know how each other plays,” Lonsdale said. “Our goals are to win everything and if we don’t win, we want to give the best account of ourselves to make that happen.”
AT THE HELM: Lonsdale is beginning his 11th season as GA’s coach. Despite finishing a strong 12-3-4 last season, Greenwich Academy was not selected to compete in the NEPSAC Class A Tournament — a competition the team is determined to reach this fall.
GA went 15-5-1 in 2017 on its way to winning the FAA Tournament championship.
Kate Sands returns as an assistant coach, after joining the staff in 2018.
WHO’S GONE?: Graduation claimed Karina Toub, Daisy Stuart and Olivia DeGulis, all of whom served as captains last season. Also graduating were Paige Keating and Emily Hock. Toub was an honorable mention selection to the All-FAA team.
WHO’S BACK?: Senior midfielder Tessa Brooks, Lane and senior forward Katie Goldsmith give GA a trio with the potential to put a lot of goals on the scoreboard. Lane tallied twice in the team’s 4-3 victory against Sacred Heart Greenwich in the semifinal-round of the 2018 FAA tourney — a game that was decided by penalty kicks. Brooks also scored in the postseason win.
Junior Ella Fugelsang, who made six saves in the FAA title game against Greens Farms Academy and eight vs. Sacred Heart in the semifinals, returns in goal. Maldonado is back for her fourth season as a defender.
“Since my freshman year, I have been playing center back, now I’m a captain, so I feel my presence on the team has to be bigger than it was in past years,” Maldonado said.
Junior defenders Schuyler Sargent, senior Chloe Burraway and junior Rachel Rogers, all of whom were key contributors a year ago, also return to the pitch. At midfield, junior Paige Lipman, who helped solidify the position last season, is back, as are junior Chiara Polvara, sophomore Ava Butz and junior Brecon Welch.
Goldsmith leads a forward unit that includes junior Margaret Maruszewski, sophomore Taylor Glanville (scored the winning goal in FAA final vs. Greens Farms) and Lauren Harteveldt (sophomore).
“Our squad has so much depth, we are returning most of our roster from the prior year,” Lane said. “That I think, is going to be very helpful.”
Said Lonsdale: “Our program has come a long way in a short period of time, which is huge for us.”
NEWCOMERS: Freshman Alexa Drummond joins the squad as a midfielder, along with freshmen Ellie Burdick and Kit Harned. Allie Jacquiery and Kayla Tillman (senior) begin their first season on the team.
STRENGTHS: “I am impressed by our player’s character and their will to win,” Lonsdale said. “They are relentless in their work ethic. Our captains are everything I want represented from this school and on the field.”
The Gators have a wealth of options offensively and experience in goal and on defense.
“Our senior class is amazing,” Lane said. “They are all such great leaders on and off the field. Even the freshmen, we’re all learning things from them.”
CAPTAIN’S COMMENTS: “Everyone looks up to each other and we are all equal on this team,” Maldonado said. “I feel like we’re all strong in our own way and we want to be the GA team that wins it all this year.”
SHOWDOWNS: Choate Rosemary Hall, Sept., 18, (home); Holy Child, Sept. 19, (away); Miss Porter’s, Sept. 21, (home); Sacred Heart Greenwich, Sept. 25, (home); Hopkins School, Sept. 28, (away); Hotchkiss School, Oct. 5, (away); Westminster, Oct. 16, (home); Kent, Oct., (home); Loomis Chaffee, Oct. 23, (home).
“All the FAA teams have so much skill,” Lane said. “It’s great having so much competition so close to home. We are looking forward to our New England matchups too.”
DID YOU KNOW?: Lane also excels at lacrosse at GA and has made a verbal commitment to play at Yale University. … Goldsmith and Maldonado were selected as members of the Connecticut Girls Soccer Association 2018 All-State Team . … Maldonado and Brooks earned All-WNEPSSA honors for the 2018 season. … Goldsmith, Brooks, Lane and Maldonado were All-FAA Team selections last season. … Brooks, Goldsmith and Maruszewski also star on the lacrosse field in the spring.