Every practice and each game is paramount to the Greenwich High School field hockey team, which is aiming to appreciate each moment it’s on field together this season.
“The season is going to look super different, there is a lot of uncertainty going on at this point of the season,” Cardinals coach Megan Wax said, referring to the safety precautions in place, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are sticking with the guidelines, because we want to be here as long as possible.”
The Cardinals, who played 16 games in a normal season, will compete in eight in their 2020 modified season. Yet a modified schedule against just a handful of squads, hasn’t put a damper on the Cardinals’ spirits
“Living in the moment is our base theme,” said Wax, who is beginning her second season at the helm. “When we are here we want to block everything out and be focused physically, mentally and emotionally. Maybe practice each day can be the highlight of our day, because there is still some uncertainty during these times.
We want our players to get the most out of every skill and fill that void by being with their friends at practice.”
Greenwich, which advanced to the quarterfinals of the CIAC Class L Tournament and qualified for the FCIAC Tournament in 2019, starts its season Oct. 3 with a home game against rival New Canaan. The Cards will face New Canaan three times this season in their FCIAC West region, which also includes Darien, Stamford and Westhill.
“We are going ahead as if the season is going to be normal,” Wax said. “But there is a strong emphasis on living in the moment.”
After taking over the varsity program last season, Wax was expecting a smooth preseason entering her second season, after gaining experience during her first year. So much for that, as COVID-19 has been a challenge for every sports program to navigate through.
“My first season, I was hired right before the season, so this year I was all ready to get going,” she said. “This is a stressful thing to not know what’s going on every single day. But we’re excited that we’re back and we have some new, cool things we are excited about trying out this year. We are trying to be more creative with things we can do.”
Returning 11 seniors from last season’s successful squad has made the challenging times a bit easier. Goalie Jorja Pastore, forward Agustina Ferrario, defender Charlotte Gans and midfielder Eleanor Ybarra are captains bringing leadership, skill and experience at each line.
The FCIAC/state is planning on giving fall athletic teams some sort of postseason experience come November.
“I think it’s our goal to make the best out of anything we have this season and to win whatever group we are in,” said Pastore, who is coming off a stellar junior season as the squad’s starting goalie. We have some good team chemistry, with a lot of returning players, so we hope to use that to our advantage.”
Pastore will continue her field hockey career at the collegiate level next year at Franklin & Marshall University.
“I am very excited about playing field hockey in college and I am looking forward to the competition,” she said.
Wax appreciates the consistency Pastore has displayed the past several seasons.
“Jorja has been our mainstay for quite a while. She had a rock star season last year and I’m looking forward to seeing her have another one.”
Ferrario will be looked upon to provide scoring from the forward position, which could be an area of strength for the Cards.
“I am excited to see how the new varsity players fit into our starting lineup,” Ferrario said. “I’m looking forward to playing the teams on our schedule, I think New Canaan will be one of our hardest teams to play.”
Greenwich’s captains have filled their roles nicely during the preseason.
“We’re here to set a good example for all the underclassmen,” Ferrario said. “We are also someone who they can turn to with any questions. I’m really excited to share what I’ve learned over the past seasons to my teammates.”
Gans, who Wax described as “the calm of the team,” keeps the defense organized with her communication and game experience.
“Our team has a good mix of older and new players backline this season,” Gans said. “I like what I see all over the field from our team, we are strong at each position. I’m really looking forward to seeing the forwards in action.
“From the beginning, we’ve had a good mindset on taking advantage of everything we can get this season.”
Patrolling the midfield for her second season is Ybarra, who also was a consistent presence a year ago.
“We have a similar lineup in the midfield, but I want to see how we play with a different set of forwards,” Ybarra said. “Hopefully we can be much more of an attacking team this year, with a lot more scorers. Hopefully, when we get to play these games, we’ll be able to show our skills.”
Kayla Johnson, Guadalupe Balaguer, Katie Nedder, Kathryn O’Donnell, Johnna Pastore, Martina Arlia and Matea Sucic are also returning seniors, while Zita Cohen and Isabella Lattuada are among some key juniors that are back.
Greenwich lost to Staples in the FCIAC quarterfinals and was defeated by Ridgefield in the state quarterfinal-round in 2019.
“Our team wanted to compete for a state and FCIAC championship this year, so we are a little upset that we won’t be able to, but now our emphasis for this season is growth,” Wax said. “We want our players’ love of the sport to grow and their field hockey IQ to grow.”
COACHING STAFF: Sarah Jarombek and Erik Caraballo return as assistant varsity coaches, while Stephanie Fazio takes over the junior varsity program. Amanda Oberly will guide the freshman team. Jarombek, a GHS graduate, was a standout field hockey player for the Cardinals.
SCHEDULE: New Canaan, Oct. 3, home; Westhill, Oct. 7, away; Stamford, Oct. 9, away; Darien, Oct. 14, away; New Canaan, Oct. 21, away; Stamford, Oct. 23, away; Stamford, Oct. 28, home; Darien, Oct. 30, home; New Canaan, Nov. 5, home.