GREENWICH — The postseason is one week away for the Greenwich High School girls ice hockey team, but locked into the No. 3 seed, it already knows who it’s going to play in the FCIAC Tournament semifinals.
Another successful regular season earned the Cardinals a return trip to the conference tournament, where it will face familiar foe and longtime rival Darien in next Wednesday’s semifinals at Darien Ice House at 7:40 p.m.
With challenging games of late against formidable foes such as Simsbury, Conard and East Catholic, the Cardinals know they’re a battle-tested squad entering the playoffs.
The 12-3-3 Cardinals also know it’s important to finish their opportunities in front of the net in the postseason and Tuesday they showed what happens when they cash in on their chances.
Scoring three first-half goals, Greenwich skated to a decisive 6-0 Senior Day win over the combined Daniel Hand/Coginchaug/Valley/Old Lyme team at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.
The Cardinals received goals from six different players, making it an especially happy Senior Day. Greenwich was 0-1-2 in its previous three games, scoring just two goals during the three outings, so Tuesday’s offensive outburst was a welcome sight.
“The past few games, we’ve had a couple of ties and a one-goal loss to Simsbury, but looking forward, we can play with any team in the state,” said GHS senior defender/quad-captain Katie Piotrzkowski, one of seven seniors honored prior to the game. “Though there’s a lot of hard games coming up, we can definitely do it. We’re a strong team.”
In Tuesday’s game against the Daniel Hand co-op, the Cardinals peppered Hand sophomore goalie Megan Hart with shots from all angles.
Hart did her best to fend off the Cards, making 40 saves, 23 of which came during the first period. Senior quad-captain/defender Sydney Orszulak scored the game’s first goal, converting a backhanded shot, after skating around a pair of Tigers’ defenders with 8:09 remaining in the first period.
Sophomore forward Lily Bates went top shelf on a rebound off a shot from Orszulak, making it 2-0 at the 4:53 mark of the opening period. A power-play goal by senior captain/forward Emma Wingrove off assists from sophomore defender Tess Marciano and Piotrzkowski, put the Cardinals on top, 3-0, with 3:58 still to go in the first period.
“That was really good that we scored a lot in the first period, which we haven’t been doing in some of our games,” Piotrzkowski said. “It was really nice to do that and we’re hoping to bring that into our next games.”
Junior defender Delaney Roth had another strong game, tallying with 9:00 left in the second period and senior Kelly Pompa got into the scoring act, notching a goal from the left face-off circle at the 5:29 mark of the second stanza, putting Hand in a 5-0 hole.
Freshman forward Kelsey Roth sealed the scoring with 2:03 to go in the second period.
“We’ve been working hard, especially during the latter part of the season, on getting shots on net,” Wingrove said. “That’s been a weakness for our team this year, to finish. So coming into the postseason, that is definitely our biggest goal, to get shots on net. That’s how we are going to beat teams.”
Some of the Cardinals’ strengths include its defensive play and performance in net by senior goalie Jessica Ware and Hannah Goldenberg.
“All of the teams we are playing have really strong offensive lines, so we need to stay strong on defense,” Orszulak said. “The goalie and our defense needs to work together to take care of our end, but we also need to get pucks to net. It’s not only going to be a defensive game when we get into the playoffs. We need to get everything on net and focus on our defensive and offensive zone.”
Greenwich is 1-1 against Darien this season. The Cardinals dropped a 2-0 decision to the Blue Wave in their season-opener, then posted a 3-1 victory. Last season saw GHS beat Darien in the FCIAC Tournament semifinals, then lose to the Blue Wave in the state tournament quarterfinals.
“Darien is a championship caliber team,” GHS coach Alex Lerchen said. “They are well-coached and they stay out of the box. Hopefully, we can get a win on Friday (against Fairfield) and hit the ground running next week.”
Said Wingrove: “Darien has been a challenge for us this year. They beat us once, we beat them once, so I think it will be a very even game. We have been working hard all year for the playoffs.”
Greenwich ices Daniel Hand Co-op 6-0 in a girls hockey game at Greenwich Hamill Rink. The Lady Cardinals also recognized their Seniors: Sydney Orszulak, Kelly Pompa, Emma Wingrove, Anna Keaveney, Katie Piotrzkowski, Jessie Marzullo and goalie Jessica Ware @GameTimeCT pic.twitter.com/wUaUXvjADD
— Matthew Brown (@mattbpix) February 19, 2020
HONORING THE SENIORS
Ware, Orszulak, Pompa, Wingrove, Anna Keaveney, Piotrzkowski and Jessica Marzullo were the seven seniors that were honored on Senior Day.
“It’s been really good being one of the senior captains of the team,” Marzullo said. “We’ve had a good incoming freshman class and they’ve been really helpful to our team this year. It’s been fun being a captain. I know there’s a lot of youth on this team, so I’m excited to see what the underclassmen will do with the program next year.”
Added Lerchen: “Our seniors are a great group. They came in as kids and now they are leaving as young women prepared for college. They’ve set a great example for the younger group and they make it fun for everyone to come to the rink every day. We’re looking forward to giving it one last go with this group of seniors in the playoffs.”