GREENWICH — For the Greenwich Academy water polo team, the focus at this point of the season is getting its play in top form for the NEPSAC Championships.
For Sacred Heart Greenwich, it’s all about improvement.
Wednesday, the Gators and Tigers tested their water polo skills against each other for the first time and both teams left the match at the Greenwich YMCA encouraged.
Greenwich Academy, the two-time defending NEPSAC champions, raised its record to 8-2 with a 12-6 win over Sacred Heart, which is in its first season as a program.
Senior Borden Wahl scored a game-high five goals while sophomore Kayla Yelensky tallied three times for the Gators in the game, which was titled “The first annual Greenwich Prep School Girls Water Polo Championship.”
“So far, it’s been a really good season,” Yelensky said. “Our team is coming together in practice and games. We were really psyched for this game, they are a new club and we have been there before, so we know what that’s like.”
Indeed, GA is only in its third season as a team, but has emerged as a NEPSAC power.
“We are continuing to work on our confidence,” said Wahl, who will play water polo at Harvard next season. “We want to get more girls scoring goals and we are starting to see that. Sacred Heart is a first-year club, so we didn’t know what to expect. They played a good game.”
Isabella Lippolis scored three goals, while Lily Holl tallied twice for Sacred Heart (0-3), which will become a varsity squad next season, after being a club squad this spring.
“We have been improving each game, which is what the sport is all about,” Lippolis said. “We have played a lot better the last two games and we are looking forward to seeing our team continue to improve as the season goes on.”
Said Holl: “It’s so nice to have a water polo team at Sacred Heart. I used to play when I was younger, but never thought I would play again until this year when we began a team. Playing against GA today was a great challenge for our team.”
Holl’s goal early in the fourth quarter cut GA’s lead to 7-6, but the Gators closed the game with a flurry. Yelensky converted a shot from 10 yards out at the 3:57 mark, then Wahl scored off a steal, making it 9-6 16 seconds later. Consecutive goals from Wahl put GA on top, 11-6.
Greenwich Academy held a 6-2 halftime lead and was in front, 6-5, after three quarters.
Camille Daigle and Lindsay McBurney had one goal apiece while Kaitlin Ganshaw registered a pair of goals for the victors.
“It’s been a good season so far and I’m confident in our team and how the season will end,” GA coach Ulmis Iordache said. “Today, we did a good job applying what we practice into the game.”
Karina Adams had one goal and Ella Holl made seven saves in goal for the Tigers. Casey Gottlieb stopped seven shots for the Gators.
Greenwich Academy will be considered the home team at this year’s NEPSAC Championships, which will be held at Brunswick School.
“We are really excited for that, we hope to bring a big crowd,” Wahl said. “The atmosphere for that event should be great.”