Following a first half of missed opportunities due to the standout play of Greenwich goalie Jorja Pastore, the New Canaan field hockey team was especially determined to keep generating shots on goal during the second half of Thursday’s matchup.
“We had to keep shooting and hope that they would start falling,” New Canaan coach Mary Clare Snediker said. “They have a very talented goalie, it’s always a challenge going against her.”
Knowing a victory would give them the No. 1 seed in the FCIAC West Region tournament, the Rams applied plenty of pressure in the second half and generated just enough offense to register a 2-0 victory over the host Cardinals.
With the victory, the Rams finished their regular season at 8-1-1 and earned the No. 1 seed in the West Region tournament. They will host Stamford or Westhill in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Greenwich (4-3-2) is the No. 3 seed and will visit second-seeded Darien in Tuesday’s semifinal round.
“We entered the game with the mindset that if we win we would be the No. 1 seed in our regional pod tournament,” Snediker said. “We’re so excited for the tournament. I wasn’t so optimistic we’d get the whole season in and it’s amazing we’ve been able to play through this far. We’re excited to play for a championship.”
Senior Sophie Havens and sophomore Shawna Ferraro scored second-half goals to lead the Rams, who are 2-0-1 against the Cardinals so far this season.
“From a coach’s perspective, our team looked like two different teams first half to second half,” Greenwich coach Megan Wax said. “The first half we did an excellent job; the second half we had to play a little more defensively and it’s tough to win games when you’re on defense the majority of the game.”
Pastore kept it a scoreless game at the 13:30 mark of the third quarter, stretching out wide and making a diving save on a drive from Rams sophomore Polly Parsons-Hills. The visitors took the lead off a penalty corner with 8:25 to go in the third quarter. Parsons-Hills sent the insert pass into the circle to senior Anna Lindeis, who moved the ball to Havens. Positioned on the right side, Havens converted her shot, giving New Canaan a 1-0 lead.
“I didn’t know it was going to go in,” Havens said of her goal. “I thought hopefully we could get a rebound. It meant a lot for us to win this game, because we wanted to be the top seed and show we’re the best in the region.”
New Canaan drew two more penalty corners shortly after its goal, but Greenwich kept it a one-goal game, with defenders Charlotte Gans and Johnna Pastore helping to clear the ball out of the circle.
The Rams increased their lead to 2-0 on a transition goal by Ferraro with 16 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Junior Molly Mitchell and senior Marlee Smith were each credited with assists on the play.
Pastore made more than 10 saves for the Cardinals.
“We need to keep our heads up and learn from this game, because it was defensive heavy today and we just need to focus on offense going forward,” Jorja Pastore said. “It was very stressful, there were a lot of tough situations, so I had to use a lot of game IQ. I had to think if I should just go or stay and take the shot. A lot of it came down to what felt right in the situation.”
Senior Megan Lydon earned the shutout in goal for New Canaan, which needed a team effort to gain the win.
“A lot of our starters are gone, they’re hurt,” Havens said. “It was a new connection we had to make and we just had to make sure we communicated.”
Parsons-Hills also helped pace the Rams offensively, while Zita Cohen and Klara Mueffelmann and Justine Liguori sparked Greenwich.
“It’s hard to win a game when you only have two corners,” Wax said. “We’ve been working on getting our shots off quicker.”
GREENWICH HIGH GIRLS SOCCER
The third time was indeed the charm for Greenwich on Thursday.
The Cardinals, who lost to New Canaan in the first meeting between the teams, then tied the Rams, posted a 3-2 victory against New Canaan on Thursday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Greenwich finished the regular season with a record of 5-3-1 and will face New Canaan for a fourth and final time in Tuesday’s FCIAC West Region tournament semifinals.
On Thursday, New Canaan took a 1-0 lead with a goal in the second minute. Emma Abbazia tied the score at 1-1 for Greenwich, scoring in the sixth minute.
Ali Pennella gave put the Cardinals ahead 2-1, tallying off a free kick from 30 yards out. After New Canaan knotted the score at 2-2, sophomore Sammy Craven notched the winning goal for the Cardinals.
“We held them off in the second half with really strong defense,” Greenwich coach Simon Rumbold said.
The site of Tuesday’s tournament game has yet to be determined.
The Greenwich girls volleyball team put the finishing touch on a perfect season by posting a 3-1 win over visiting Darien in an FCIAC West Region game Wednesday.
The 10-0 Cardinals won the match by set scores of 25-16, 25-19, 20-25, 25-17. Senior Lilly Saleeby recorded 11 kills, 15 service points, three aces and 23 digs to lead the Cardinals.
Senior Addie Leder tallied 45 assists and 11 digs, while junior Adele Sotgiu had 13 kills and 12 digs in the winning effort. Senior Thalia Doundoulakis (16 service points), senior Cornelia Roach (eight kills, four blocks), junior Liana Sarkissian (eight kills) and senior Chelsea Cleary (four aces, 13 service points and 15 digs) also paced Greenwich.
Up next for Greenwich is the FCIAC West Region tournament semifinals. The Cardinals will host New Canaan in the semifinals on Saturday at 4 p.m.