GREENWICH — When the Greenwich Academy and Rye Country Day School soccer teams met in September, the result was a scoreless tie.
Monday, Greenwich Academy knew it couldn’t leave anything to chance against Rye Country Day in the FAA Tournament quarterfinals.
Needing a victory against the Wildcats this time to advance to the semifinals, they seized control, scoring early and often.
Junior Margaret Maruszewski recorded a hat trick, for fourth-seeded Greenwich Academy, which registered a decisive 6-0 win over fifth-seeded Rye Country Day School.
The triumph advanced the Gators into the FAA Tournament semifinals, where they will visit top-seeded rival Sacred Heart Greenwich on Wednesday at 2 p.m.
The game will be a rematch of the 2019 FAA semifinals, won by Greenwich Academy on penalty kicks. GA has captured the FAA Tournament title the past three seasons.
“Our game plan was to come out strong and score early in these knockout games,” said GA senior forward Tessa Brooks, who set up a pair of goals. It’s not good to start late in these games, so we followed the game plan and it was a solid performance by everyone.”
Maruszewski enabled the Gators to start the postseason matchup strong. Her first goal came in the eighth minute, knocking a short shot past Wildcats junior goalie Phoebe Shapiro. Senior midfielder/co-captain Taylor Lane assisted on the goal, sending a header into the box.
Senior forward Katie Goldsmith extended the home team’s advantage to 2-0 scoring off a strong run to the goal in the 11th minute. Maruszewski struck again with 19:43 left in the first half, giving GA a 3-0 lead. Brooks sent a cross into the box, that sophomore Lauren Harteveldt directed toward the goal and Maruszewski got the last touch on the ball for the tally.
“The key to how well we’ve been playing is was how much we want it this season and how much we have prepared,” Maruszewski said. “It’s motivated us for the whole season.”
In the 30th minute, Maruszewski completed her hat trick, scoring off a pass from freshman Elizabeth Burdick, who slid the ball across the box.
Rye Country Day, which has played the last two weeks of its season without injured senior starting goalie Juliette Grasso, finished its season at 5-6-2 overall.
“It’s part of the season and the ups and downs you face,” Wildcats coach Amanda Popoli said of the injury. “We have a very young team, with a lot of sophomores and freshmen, which I am really excited about. Our team felt more comfortable out there as the season progressed and really improved.”
Greenwich Academy defender/co-captain Christina Maldonado scored off a corner kick from junior Paige Lipman and Burdick tallied in the second half for the victors.
“This game was a lot better, considering our outcome the last time we played Rye,” Maldonado said. “We really stepped up and played the way we know we have to play. This is when we have to perform well and play up to our abilities and capabilities.”
Junior Ella Fugelsang made six saves in goal for the shutout win for GA (10-3-4).
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Maruszewski helped set the tone with her hat trick.
“This one was really important for us, because we reversed our score from tying them this season, so that was a big confidence-booster for us, going into Sacred Heart this Wednesday,” Lane said. “We’ve built our chemistry so well. We had trouble scoring at the beginning of the season, but we proved we can put six away in 80 minutes and I’m so proud of how we progressed.”
Said GA coach Alistair Lonsdale: “Rye came out hard, but so did we and we showed determination in ending it quickly. Marge (Maruszewski) had a great game with the hat trick.”
Wednesday’s matchup between the GA and Sacred Heart should be an intense game. The Gators were victorous against the Tigers during the regular season. Sacred Heart has just one league loss this season.
“I’m really excited, they’re always a great team, and we are up for it — we’re ready,” Brooks said.
GREENWICH ACADEMY 6, RYE COUNTRY DAY 0
RYE COUNTRY DAY 0 0 — 0
GREENWICH 4 2 — 6
Goals: GA — Margaret Maruszewski 3, Katie Goldsmith, Christina Maldonado, Elizbeth Burdick; Assists: GA — Tessa Brooks 2, Taylor Lane, Lauren Harteveldt, Burdick, Paige Lipman; Goalies: RCDS — Phoebe Shapiro (7 saves); GA — Ella Fugelsang (6 saves).