Sacred Heart Greenwich has been one of the most successful soccer teams in the FAA the past six seasons and the duo of Amelia Sheehan and Taylor O’Meara have experienced a wealth of the team’s victories.
Sheehan and O’Meara are each beginning their fourth season on the Tigers, with the previous two campaigns resulting in trips to the FAA Tournament semifinals.
Now the senior co-captains are intent on helping lead the Tigers deeper into the postseason.
“One of our goals is to make it further than we have in the FAA Tournament,” Sheehan said. “We’ve come up a little short three years in a row, so we would definitely like to take it one step further, which is making it to the FAA finals.”
Sacred Heart has come oh, so close, to advancing to the championship game of the FAA Tournament the previous two seasons. In 2018, Greenwich Academy edged Sacred Heart, 4-3, in an FAA semifinal-round game that went to penalty kicks, following 20 minutes of overtime. The 2017 season saw Hopkins School defeat Sacred Heart in the FAA semifinals.
“Last year, we were 11-7-1, it was our best year in the first three years that I was here,” Sacred Heart coach Stuart Smith said. “I feel like every year we’re getting stronger and this year we are looking to go one step further. As a team, our players set their goals and they decided their No. 1 goal was to win FAAs. Our smaller goals will help in that process.”
Sheehan, a forward, and O’Meara, a midfielder, bring experience and leadership to each of their units.
“Being a captain is awesome,” O’Meara said. “I feel like we have stepped up in our roles and we enjoy leading our team. Some of the juniors and seniors have stepped up as well.”
A dynamic playmaker, Sheehan is one of the Tigers’ main offensive threats.
“This team is very special, because we’ve gained a lot of confidence in this last two weeks of preseason and we’ve gained a lot of focus in what we want to do this season,” Sheehan said. “That’s going to help us during the season. Taylor and I have set a new culture to the team that includes being focused all the time and competitive every day, every game and every practice.”
Sacred Heart’s 2019 campaign kicks off Saturday against visiting Newton Country Day School at 11:30 a.m.
AT THE HELM: Smith starts his fourth season as coach at SHG. The last two seasons resulted in trips to the FAA Tournament semifinals. Silvio Ferraro is back as a varsity assistant coach and senior advisor. Lewys Jones returns as an assistant coach. He spends a lot of time training the goalies.
WHO’S GONE?: Goalie Athena Corroon, defender Laura Moore, midfielder Claire Liddy and midfielder Caroline Conrod were the graduates from last season’s successful squad.
WHO’S BACK?: Sheehan has been one of the team’s leading scorers at the forward position the past three seasons.
“As a freshman and sophomore, Amelia was more direct about going to the goal, now she’s become more about setting up other people, which she has done well,” Smith said. “I see her getting goals and a lot of assists as well.”
Leah Atkins, a senior forward/midfielder, has also been with the squad for several seasons. Atkins, who provided a number of key goals last fall, should spark the team offensively as well. Junior Alana Frederick, who has competed on the varsity team since she was an eighth-grader, is another forward the Tigers will rely upon for production offensively. O’Meara, junior Fernanda Serna, Lauren Giuriceo (sophomore), Isabel DeVita (junior) and Lara Patricio (junior, also a key contributor offensively in 2018) are each returning midfielders.
Sophomore Chelsea Hyland, senior Celia Daigle, Hannah Dempsey (junior) and junior Rachel Keefe return to the backline, which was a position of strength for the team in 2018.
Charlotte Marvin (sophomore forward) adds depth to her position. Joining the squad are goalies Meghan Mahoney (sophomore) and Daphne Hartch (freshman), Madison Hart (eighth-grader) and defender Olivia Gasvoda (senior).
Smith likes the team spirit he’s witnessed from his squad during the preseason.
“Our captains have shown a true enthusiasm for their role, in terms of getting the team together,” Smith said. “They set up a team bonding trip and they are really driven to make this the best season we’ve had since they’ve been freshmen on the team. Amelia plays with an electrifying pace that’s tough to keep up with and Taylor is strong in leading the midfield.”
STRENGTHS: “Athleticism, speed and agility are the strengths we are focusing on using,” O’Meara said. “We are focusing on moving the ball quicker and we are going to receive a collaborative effort. We should be able to use our speed up top better with the formation we’re using. Also, having experience with each other will be very useful this season.”
CAPTAINS’S COMMENTS: “Being focused and fearless is our mindset,” Sheehan said. “We are not afraid to go out there and do what we have to do to be successful.”
SHOWDOWNS: Sept. 11 at Taft; Sept. 14, Loomis Chaffee, home; Sept. 21, Hamden Hall, home; Sept. 25, Greenwich Academy, away; Sept., 30, Choate Rosemary Hall, away; Oct. 12, Hotchkiss, away; Oct. 16, Hopkins, home.
“I think it is going to be really tight in the FAA this year,” Smith said. “There are five teams that could have a shot at winning it.”
DID YOU KNOW?: Serna, Patricio and Sheehan each earned All-FAA Team honors in 2018. … Frederick was an All-FAA honorable mention selection last season. … O’Meara made the All-WNEPSSA Team.