Finishing its 2018 season with a sparkling record of 12-3 wasn’t a surprise to the Greenwich High School girls water polo team, which has been one of the school’s most successful spring teams the past decade.
Winning seasons and effective performances in the pool is expected from the Cardinals, who have made a habit of excelling against the majority of their water polo foes.
With a wealth of talent returning from last season, the Cardinals have set the bar even higher this spring.
“Last season went pretty well for us,” GHS coach Paul Constantin said. “We performed as expected, we only lost to Greenwich Aquatics and won the rest of our games. This season, the challenge is to try to go for an undefeated season. We have filled out some positions we were missing in the past and because of that, we can adjust our tactics, which can be better for our offense. Our defense has improved as well.”
A wing player, senior co-captain Kate Turkeltaub is one of the Cardinals more versatile competitors.
“I am feeling really good about the team, especially since we have a lot of new incoming freshmen,” Turkeltaub said. “It’s really exciting to see a lot of new players in the pool playing together. We have a new dynamic in the pool which will be beneficial in our upcoming games.”
Greenwich opens its new season with a home matchup against Staples Friday at 4:30 p.m.
“This game is going to be quite a step up for the freshmen,” Constantin said. “We are going to be playing quite a few players, this year we have 21 players.”
Such depth should aid the Cardinals, who have possessed numerous scoring options in previous seasons.
“It should be good, it’s basically a new team,” senior co-captain Barbara Malone said. “We have seven freshmen coming in, so it should be interesting to see how we all work together. Kate and I are the only seniors on the team, so it’s exciting that we’re finishing off our high school careers together.”
AT THE HELM: Constantin is starting his fourth season as Greenwich’s coach. The Cardinals posted a record of 12-3 in his first season, 9-5-1 in 2017 and 12-3 last year.
“Paul does a great job of making sure everyone is having fun, but he also makes sure we are working hard in practice so we can improve as a team,” Turkeltaub said.
WHO’S GONE?: Annie Robinson, who powered the squad on both ends of the pool the past four seasons, is continuing her water polo career at Princeton University. She served as one of the Cardinals’ captains last season and was selected as a NISCA All-American.
Kellen Carlson, who also provided a consistent offensive spark and Mariam Obaiah were captains of the 2018 team as well.
Julia Merrill, also a key offensive player, graduated, as did goalie Ainsleigh Winget.
WHO’S BACK?: GHS will rely on the leadership and experience of Malone and Turkeltaub to guide the squad, which has numerous first-year players.
Junior Kaila Carroll an NISCA All-American Honorable Mention selection last year, should help pace the Cards in the scoring department. One of Carroll’s big offensive games occured when she scored five goals in Greenwich’s 19-17 win over rival Greenwich Academy last spring.
Sophomore Nina Chamberlain, junior Charlotte Hallisey, junior Lilly Hopper, Jenna Handali (junior), Tyler Fox (junior), Marcella Winget (junior) and June Akpata each saw significant action a year ago and should provide quality depth this season. Hallisey’s team-high seven goals helped lead GHS past Greenwich Academy last season.
WATCH OUT FOR: Joining the squad are freshmen Mikaela Browning, Bella Shraa, Lilianna Sanni, Daisy Gray, Isabella Malchow, Olivia Knapp and Emma Phillips and Richa Vaid. Charlotte Ashley and Anneliese Ashley are sophomores.
STRENGTHS: “We are all really fast swimmers,” Malone said. “Paul (Constantin) has been pushing us through these first few days with sets — putting a lot of focus on our swimming. Everyone here can swim really well.”
Carroll and Hallisey can be difficult for foes to defend and Malone, one of the team’s main defenders, is adept at coming up with steals.
SHOWDOWNS: Greenwich has home games against Staples (March 22), Greenwich Aquatics (March 28), Greenwich Academy (April 2), Greenwich Aquatics (April 11), Hopkins School (May 6) and Sacred Heart Greenwich (May 8). Greenwich will hold its annual Cardinal Tournament on May 11.
“We always look forward to the Cardinal Tournament, it’s a fun time for the team,” Turkeltaub said. “Playing some different teams at the tournament is a really nice way to end the season.”