A road win against Rye Country Day School on Wednesday would give the Sacred Heart Greenwich soccer team something it’s never had before — the FAA regular season championship.
The first-place Tigers sport a record of 6-1 heading into Wednesday’s FAA matchup against the Wildcats. St. Luke’s School also has a 6-1 mark, but Sacred Heart defeated the Storm, so if the Tigers top RCDS in their final FAA game, they will clinch their first regular season title.
“That would mean the team would have achieved the goal they set out to achieve all season,” Sacred Heart coach Stuart Smith said. “It would give the team a lot of confidence going into to the playoffs.”
It would also give the Tigers the home field advantage in the FAA Tournament. Sacred Heart has been particularly tough to beat at their home grass field.
“One of the goals of the team was to have the No. 1 seed going into the playoffs,” Smith said. “The team has been resilient. We’ve had some injuries, but we’ve had players do a good job of filling in and now we are peaking at the right time.”
Senior co-captains Amelia Sheehan and senior defender Taylor O’Meara have helped inspire the squad throughout the season.
Sheehan is one of the Tigers’ leading scorers and playmakers, while O’Meara has sparked the squad defensively.
“Amelia has great athleticism, speed and competitive spirit,” Smith said. “She is very motivated and between her and Taylor, they are driving the team.”
A forward/midfielder in previous seasons, O’Meara has embraced her new role this fall.
“Taylor has always been a midfielder, but this year we asked her to play central defense,” Smith said. “She has shown a great attitude and has done what she has needed to do for the team. Our attacks from the back are organized by her, so it’s reassuring to have her back there.”
Alana Frederick, a junior forward, has emerged as Sacred Heart’s leading scorer. Frederick, who has a pair of hat tricks to her ledger this season, has amassed a team-high 17 goals in 14 games for the Tigers, who are 8-6 overall.
“Alana started with us as an eighth-grader, so she has benefited from that extra year’s experience,” Smith said. “She’s worked on her movement off the ball and puts herself in position to score goals. Her speed is outstanding.”
Junior midfielder Fernanda Serna, senior midfielder Leah Atkins, junior forward Lara Patricio and eighth-grader Madison Hart have also helped the Tigers’ offense flourish.
“We know we are going to create chances every game no matter who we are playing,” Smith said. “We haven’t lacked opportunities in any of our games and we have stayed in games against the big boarding schools.”
Sacred Heart has defeated FAA opponents St. Luke’s, Hamden Hall, Holy Child, King, Hopkins and Greens Farms Academy. Their lone league loss came against Greenwich Academy, which is 5-1-1 in the league and in third place. The Tigers and Gators could meet in the FAA Tournament, which was won by GA in 2018.
Sophomore Megan Maloney and Daphne Hartch have shared the goalkeeping duties for Sacred Heart, as they usually play one half each.
Sacred Heart’s latest win came against Greens Farms Academy on Tuesday. Frederick tallied in the 11th and 20th minute, while Sheehan scored in the 14th and 48 minute for Sacred Heart, which led 3-1 at halftime.
Frederick also assisted on two goals for SHG, which received two saves from Maloney and was paced defensively by sophomore Lauren Griuriceo.
“Lauren doesn’t get that much credit, but she is kind of the engine of our team in the way we play,” Smith said. “She does so much work for us defensively and has been a key player for us.”
Sacred Heart’s game against Rye Country Day School takes place at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday. Two of the Tigers’ signature victories came against Loomis Chaffee School and St. Luke’s.
“The win against Loomis was something we had never done before,” Smith said. “It was a big confidence-boost for us. That gave our team belief that we can beat anyone.”