GREENWICH — Wednesday, the Greenwich field hockey team exhibited the 60 minutes of consistency and focus that coach Megan Wax was hoping for the majority of this season and it resulted in an inspired victory over Darien in the FCIAC West Region Tournament semifinals.
Thursday, the Cardinals produced 60 more minutes of excellence and the end result on this day, was a title.
Continuing where it left off when it shut out rival Darien on Wednesday, third-seeded Greenwich carried the momentum throughout in an impressive 6-0 win over visiting Stamford in the FCIAC West Region Tournament final.
The Cardinals (6-4-1) controlled possession most of the game and received goals from six different players on their way to capturing the region title in this modified season.
The tournament’s semifinals at Darien Wednesday saw Greenwich post a 4-0 triumph against a squad it had already lost twice to this fall.
“We had been working on being a 60-minute team,” Wax said. “Finally yesterday (Wednesday) we played 60 strong minutes and were hitting on all cylinders. We were focused, we played with high energy and we were ready to go from the start.”
Such was also the case for the Cardinals Thursday against fourth-seeded Stamford (2-7-1). Greenwich held a 3-0 halftime lead, then extended its advantage to 5-0 in the third quarter. The Cardinals last won a conference title in 2012, when it shared the FCIAC championship with Darien, as Hurricane Sandy forced the cancellation of the final.
“We are so excited to win the title, winning a championship has been our goal since the moment last season ended,” said Greenwich senior quad-captain Ellie Ybarra, who helped spark the team’s solid midfield play. “Our team is so grateful to have a season. As a senior to be a part of this with my teammates is special.”
Stamford notched a 1-0 victory against Westhill in the opening round of the tournament, then got through to the finals after top-seeded New Canaan withdrew from the tourney due to its players and coaches being under quarantine.
Spending a lot of time in the Knights’ circle, Greenwich generated 17 shots on goal and forced 16 penalty corners. Freshman Lauren Dowling, playing in only her second varsity game in goal, made 11 saves for Stamford.
“We put up a good fight, our whole defense played tough throughout the game,” said Kaylin English, who served as Stamford’s coach on Thursday.
English filled in for coach Randi Fodiman, who was unable to make the game.
“It was a team effort against a great Greenwich team,” English said. “Lauren filled in admirably for our varsity goalie She was under a lot of pressure and made some great saves.”
The Cardinals first goal came off a penalty corner with 5:47 remaining in the first quarter. Junior midfielder Isa Lattuada sent the insert pass to senior forward/midfielder Agustina Ferrario, who crossed the ball to Zita Cohen. Positioned on the left side, Cohen drove a hard shot that zoomed past a pair of Stamford defenders and got by Dowling, giving Greenwich a 1-0 lead.
“One of the things we wanted to continue from our last game was being a 60-minute team,” said Ferrario, also a captain. “The whole game, we showed so much heart and communication. We wanted to win this title game so badly.”
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Senior Kayla Johnson converted a shot at the 13:19 mark of the second quarter, then Ferrario tallied with 10:43 remaining, giving the Cardinals a 3-0 halftime lead.
Meanwhile, Stamford’s opportunities to get the ball into the Cardinals’ circle were limited.
“We really came together well as a team,” said Greenwich senior goalie Jorja Pastore, one of the team’s captains. “Our underclassmen and seniors played great throughout the season.”
The matchup marked the conclusion of the Cardinals careers of twin sisters Jorja and Johnna Pastore (midfielder).
“We’ve played on this team together for two years and we’ve had a great time,” Jorja Pastore said. “We know where each other is going to on the field and share good chemistry.”
Lattuada scored off a penalty corner, tipping in a shot from Ferrario to put the Cardinals ahead 4-0 with 13:21 to go in the third quarter. Ybarra then tallied, deflecting in a shot off another Greenwich penalty corner, making it 5-0 at the 10:45 mark of the third quarter.
Sophomore Klara Mueffelmann sealed the Cardinals’ scoring with 8:13 left in the fourth quarter. Dowling made seven second-half saves for Stamford, which was paced defensively by senior Ashley Bruno and freshman Caroline Fay.
Greenwich senior quad-captain defensive midfielder Charlotte Gans said the team played its best field hockey its final two games of the season.
“We played with so much heart in the semifinals against Darien,” Gans said. “Our team was determined to beat them to every single ball. The momentum we gained from beating Darien absolutely carried over into this game. Over the past four years, I’ve seen this program grow and improve so much.”
For Wax, it was all about the team playing the 60 strong minutes.
“Today, again, we executed and we were focused the full 60 minutes,” she said. “We kept our heads up, found the open person and played with a lot of intensity.”