Four titles in four seasons as a program — that’s what the Greenwich Academy water polo team has accomplished.
Top-seeded Greenwich Academy continued its championship trend, as it claimed the winner’s trophy at the NEPSAC Championships for the fourth straight season with a well-earned 12-9 victory against Williston Northampton School in the title match Sunday at Phillips Exeter Academy.
The victory put the finishing touch on a season in which the Gators posted a sparking 10-1 record on their way to scoring in double figures in all but one of their games.
“I’m really happy with our team, they improved a lot as the season went on and really stepped up at the end of the season,” said GA coach Ulmis Iordache, who has guided the Gators to all of their titles. “They showed their strength and winning attitude.”
In the championship game of the tournament against Williston Northampton on Sunday, junior Kayla Yelensky, who sparked the squad offensively all season, scored a team-high six goals. Sophomore Kaitlin Ganshaw also paced the Gators, tallying four goals.
“It was a tough game, we were up 7-1 in the first quarter, but in the second quarter, they came back,” Iordache said. “It was 8-8 at halftime and 9-9 after the third quarter. The fourth quarter, we were able to score a couple of goals.”
Avery Sammons and Allie Spaulding scored one goal apiece and goalie Else Esmond made six saves in the winning effort.
“Our team had a good start and came out highly motivated, which led us to a 7-1 lead,” Iordache said. “We received really good leadership from Kayla and Kaitlin in the water and were able to hold firm at the end. The hustle we showed at the end, enabled us to score two important goals. We showed great maturity in that game.”
In a back-and-forth matchup, Greenwich Academy defeated Sacred Heart Greenwich, 14-11, in the NEPSAC semifinals on Saturday.
“Both teams know each other well and it was also a really good game,” Iordache said. “No team had more than a one-point lead until the end and it was tied at halftime as well.”
In GA’s triumph against Sacred Heart, Sorenson and Ganshaw each tallied four times, while Yelensky recorded a hat trick to pace the squad. Spaulding and xxx added one goal apiece for the victors.
“Sacred Heart is a much-improved team and they had a great season,” Iordache said. “They were quadruple teaming Kayla and Lily was open and she was not shy about taking the open shot. It was another great match that was decided in the fourth quarter. It was one of the best games of the season.”
For Sacred Heart, the New England tournament began with a 12-9 win over Choate Rosemary Hall on Saturday. Captained by Yelensky and Lindsay McBurney, GA capped its season with 10 consecutive victories after their losing its only game of the season to Greenwich High School last month.
“The leadership we received from our captains, Kayla and Lindsay was off the charts,” Iordache said. “This team was driven to keep going and driven to win, no matter how much adversity they faced. They are doing everything possible to make our program successful.”