SOUTHBURY — It’s a yearly tradition that dates back at least a couple decades for the Pomperaug and Greenwich high school field hockey teams to meet up for an epic non-conference battle, then sit down together for a friendly meal afterward.
The two powerhouse teams continued that tradition Monday night, as the visiting Cardinals scored early and often in a 6-1 victory, then enjoyed some pizza and refreshments in an impressive display of sportsmanship and goodwill. Sam Chabot and Maggie O’Gorman scored two goals apiece and Zoe Metalios and Gracie Sunoo each scored one for Greenwich (9-1-0-0) as it dealt Pomperaug (8-1-2-0) its first defeat of the season. Greenwich goalie Emily Gunzburg made two saves before giving way to Maria Pereira, who made one save in the final five minutes.
Jillian Murray scored the lone Pomperaug goal, and goalie Ashleigh Whitten made eight saves.
“This was a great team win across the board,” Greenwich coach Allyn Orrico said. “The girls are working very, very hard, and they’re getting better every time we’re together. That’s really all you can ask of them. I’m really proud of them.”
The Cardinals, ranked sixth in the most recent state coaches’ poll, have high hopes for this season — and rightfully so. Their only loss was a 1-0 setback against top-ranked FCIAC rival Darien, reigning Class L state co-champion, but they followed that by beating second-ranked Norwalk 4-0 and 14th-ranked Wilton 4-2.
“This is a really special year,” O’Gorman said. “We have such high expectations for this team, and with how it’s going so far, it looks like we could meet those expectations.”
Pomperaug, ranked 13th in the state coaches’ poll, has some high hopes of its own. Monday’s loss was a tough one, but the Panthers are still the only team in the South-West Conference with an unbeaten conference record.
“We’ve been doing really well this year, and we’re really proud of how we’ve been playing and the effort we’ve been putting in,” Pomperaug senior Allison McCormick said. “We just have to use this as a learning experience to see what the competition at the state level is, to be able to progress and make ourselves better and do bigger and better things from here on out.”
Chabot put Greenwich on the board first in the eighth minute, and Murray tied it for Pomperaug in the 15th minute. Both teams had good scoring chances early, and each capitalized on one of them. Only two minutes after Murray tied it up, Chabot untied it — this time for good. For a brief moment, the momentum was up for grabs, and Chabot seized it for the Cardinals.
“That was huge,” Orrico said. “You have to be resilient. You have to be able to bend but not break. We really try to get the girls to believe that, if something happens, you just get right back at it and keep to your plan.”
Greenwich opened a little breathing room in the 24th minute when Metalios one-timed home a crisp pass from O’Gorman. It was one of several highlight-reel goals for the Cardinals set up by a series of surgically precise, tic-tac-toe passes.
“I think it’s because we’re all such great friends on this team, and we know how each other plays,” O’Gorman said.
Both teams will return to action in their respective conferences with key games Tuesday. Greenwich is set to visit FCIAC foe Ridgefield at 4:30 p.m., while Pomperaug is set to visit SWC rival Bethel and play on the natural grass of Hunt Field at 7 p.m.
“It’s exciting, no doubt, but my job is to keep the girls focused,” Orrico said. “We really preach ‘One game at a time.’”
GREENWICH 6, POMPERAUG 1
GREENWICH3 3 — 6
POMPERAUG1 0 — 1
Records: Greenwich 9-1-0-0; Pomperaug 8-1-2-0. Goals: G—Sam Chabot 2, Maggie O’Gorman 2, Zoe Metalios, Gracie Sunoo; P—Jillian Murray. Assists: G—O’Gorman 2, Beth Williamson 2; P—Patricia Yule. Goalies: G—Emily Gunzburg (2 saves), Maria Pereira (1 save); P—Ashleigh Whitten (8 saves).