With the regular season just about over, the Greenwich High School field hockey team is intent on making its mark in the all-important second season — the upcoming postseason.
Greenwich heads into its regular season finale against host Ridgefield on Friday with a record of 9-6 overall and a 7-5 mark in the FCIAC, which is as competitive as ever this fall.
Norwalk, Staples, Darien and Ridgefield are each having outstanding seasons, as they each have only a lone loss. New Canaan has lost two games, as has Wilton, so the field will be tough in the postseason, which the Cardinals have qualified for.
“Everyone has a level playing field, a lot of teams are even and it’s going to be really exciting,” GHS first-year coach Megan Wax said. “A lot of the teams in the FCIAC are going to be in the Class L tournament, so it will be the same thing.”
The Cardinals will be on the road in the quarterfinal-round of the FCIAC Tournament, which begins on Nov. 1. In its final home game of the season at Cardinal Stadium, Greenwich lost to Wilton, 2-0, on Senior Night on Wednesday.
“Senior night was fun, there was a lot of energy,” Wax said. “We came out on fire and played with a lot of intensity. Our seniors really set the tone and we implemented a lot of what we had been working on, with our spacing and ball movement in the first half looking rock solid.”
Wilton (9-2-0-1) scored a goal in the first half off a penalty corner and added a second-half goal in its win over the Cardinals.
“Even though we lost we improved on a lot of things we were working on,” Wax said. “Wilton is a good program, but we’re very evenly matched.”
Greenwich paid tribute to its eight seniors on Senior Night on Thursday, two of whom are co-captains Ashley Zolin and Katie Piotrzkowski.
Both Piotrzkowski and Zolin have helped spark the Cardinals defensively. Greenwich has allowed only 18 goals in 15 games with seven shutouts. They, along with their teammates, know the squad has it in them to make a push in the playoffs.
“We’re really taking a lot of time to think about not only our weaknesses, but our strengths, because that’s really important,” Zolin said. “Going into the playoffs, our team is really focusing on our strengths and being super aware of our positioning on the field.”
While Greenwich has shut out seven of its opponents, it has also been shut out in five of its games, including its last three. So capitalizing on its scoring opportunities and finishing around the cage is a must for the Cards going forward.
“We have definitely noticed that we have had a lot of pretty close games,” Piotrzkoski said. “We need to convert on a couple of things, keep our positions on the field and keep our aggressiveness going. In the final 25, we have to do what we can to disrupt a play, or make a play.”
Added Wax: “We just need that finishing touch into the goal. It has been a competitive season. We have said from the beginning, every team in the FCIAC is so hard, you really have to fight for everything you get each game.”
With Zolin, Piotrzkowski, and juniors Guadalupe and Charlotte Gans helping lead the Cards’ defensive effort in front of junior goalie JoJo Pastore, seniors Demi Janis and Violet Mikalopis have ignited the squad at the forward position.
“Demi Janis is our fast break queen and Violet is the ultimate hustler at forward,” Wax said. “As for our defense, I can’t give them enough credit. They have been under a lot of pressure this year.”
The Cardinals’ captains have relished their roles.
“It’s been fun being leaders for the underclassmen,” Zolin said. “Katie and I were on varsity in previous seasons when we had an older team, so the team dynamic is very different this season. The team chemistry is great.”
Following its game against Ridgefield on Friday, Greenwich will have time to prepare for its FCIAC quarterfinal-round game on Nov. 1.
“It will be really nice to give the team a mental break and a chance to get ready to go for the postseason,” Wax said. “We always say the postseason is always a second season. We have our eyes on the prize and we want the championship. Overall, we are progressing every game and the girls are feeling more confident in doing the things we are asking them to do.”