GREENWICH — As the first half of Wednesday’s FAA Tournament lacrosse semifinal between Sacred Heart Greenwich and Hamden Hall Country Day School progressed, it became apparent the Tigers were going to take another giant step toward gaining their third straight conference championship.
After earning the No. 1 seed in the tournament by producing a dominant regular season, the Tigers received a bye in the opening round, which gave them a bit of a breather.
When Wednesday’s matchup commenced it was clear the Tigers were rested and ready to roll.
Junior attack Katie Keller scored a game-high six goals, while senior midfielder Ryan Smith recorded three goals and two assists to power top-seeded host Sacred Heart to a convincing 20-4 win over fifth-seeded Hamden Hall.
Two-time defending FAA Tournament champion Sacred Heart advanced to the title game, which it hosts on Friday at 5 p.m. The Tigers, who had an ultra-busy schedule, last played when they topped Taft, 21-5, on Saturday.
“We had a few days off, throughout the season we had tons of games, I think we had four games in one week, which was a lot,” Smith said. “We had good practices and we were definitely prepared for today. We came out on fire and we are determined to win our third championship.”
Lillian DeConcini, a junior attack, tallied twice, as did senior defender Athena Corroon and freshman midfielder Franny O’Brien for the victors (16-1).
“We played our top game at all times and got the job done,” Corroon said. “We try to go into every game with that mentality. It was nice to have a few days off, but we went right back to work we got back to practice with a lot of determination.”
Senior defender Hilary Hoover added one goal and one assist and like Corroon, was one of the Tigers’ defensive standouts. The home team took a 12-1 lead into halftime.
“Because it is the tournament we definitely had a hyped excitement going into this game,” Hoover said. “This is what we have been working toward and we just have to execute the way that we have all season in our final game.”
Rachel O’Keefe and Laura O’Connor combined to make three saves for Sacred Heart, which controlled possession throughout. Smith started the scoring, converting a free position shot 1:23 into the opening half. Keller put a low shot by Hornets goalie Destinee Gabriel, making it 2-0 at the 23:17 mark.
DeConcini tallied in transition, then Smith scored directly off the ensuing draw, making it 4-0 with 21:20 to go in the first half. Displaying solid ball movement the Tigers scored again, as Keller tallied off a pass from Hoover, then lit the scoreboard off an 8-meter shot. Corroon’s fastbreak goal put Hamden Hall in an 8-0 hole with 17:16 left in the opening half.
Kaci Benoit who tallied twice, had Hamden Hall’s first goal at the 13:54 mark of the first half. Karis Curtis and Molly Anderson contributed one goal apiece for the Hornets, who fell to the Tigers during the regular season.
Hamden Hall finished its season at 9-7.
“Overall, I could not be more proud of this team this year and the strides we made,” Hornets coach Emily Anderson said. “Coming off of last year, we lost a big group of seniors and this team more than stepped up. Not only did we have one of the best records that we had in a long time, we are competing and have had the highest seed we have ever had in the FAA Tournament. As a coaching staff we couldn’t be more proud of their efforts.”
Senior Caroline Paul and sophomore Joyce Heffernan each added one goal in the winning effort.
“I think that of any year we deserved to win this is it, we worked so hard and worked all together really well,” Smith said. “This is our time to finish it off.”
SACRED HEART 20, HAMDEN HALL 4
HAMDEN HALL 1 3 — 4
SACRED HEART 12 8 – 20
Scoring: HH — Kaci Benoit 2 g; Karis Curtis 1 g, Molly Anderson 1 g; SH — Katherine Keller 6 g; Lillian DeConcini 2 g; Hannah Dempsey 2 a; Caroline Paul 1 g; Amelia Sheehan 1 a; Ryan Smith 3 g, 2 a; Hilary Hoover 1 g, 1 a; Athena Corroon 2 g; Francoise O’Brien 2 g; Joyce Heffernan 1 g; Morgan Smith 1 g; Courtney Haggerty 1 g; Goalies: HH — Destinee Gabriel (12 saves); SH — Rachel Keefe (1 save), Laura O’Connor (1 save).