Two seasons ago, the Sacred Heart Greenwich soccer team lost in the quarterfinal-round of the FAA Tournament and last fall, the Tigers advanced to the semifinal-round. Now the Tigers are determined to make it to the game that eluded them a year ago.
“We want to take that next step this year,” Sacred Heart coach Stuart Smith said. “We’ve been taking it one step at a time.”
Competing in the FAA Tournament final would be the next step for the Tigers, who improved as their 2017 season progressed and wound up posting a record of 9-9-2.
Last season’s schedule had the Tigers playing Choate Rosemary Hall, Loomis Chaffee School and Taft School early on, so they started their 2017 campaign a bit slowly, before piling up victories midway through the season.
“Last year we tried to hang in with those schools — Choate, Loomis and Taft,” Smith said. “This year we have the talent to compete with them and we are going to go out there and attack them and see how we do. We are strong at each position and we have really good attackers. There are less seniors on our team this year, but our senior class is still strong and we have good freshman, sophomores and a good junior class returning.”
Goalie Athena Corroon and defender Claire Liddy, both of whom are serving as captains, are two key seniors returning to the Tigers’ squad.
“Our defense is really strong,” said Corroon, a multi-sport athlete at the school. “We have two seniors playing in back on defense, we have a lot of incoming freshmen that look good and our transition will be good too.”
Sacred Heart hopes to build upon the teamwork they displayed during a number of their matchups last season.
“We play a lot together, so we know what each other is going to do on the field,” said Liddy, who also plays several sports. “Our team has awesome attackers who know what to do with the ball. We just have to get it to them, so they can make it happen.”
The Tigers open their season with a road game against Newtown Country Day School on Sept. 8.
AT THE HELM: Smith is beginning his third season as coach of the Tigers. Sacred Heart advanced to the FAA Tournament semifinals by registering a 6-1 quarterfinal-round win over School of the Holy Child. In the semifinals, Hopkins School defeated Sacred Heart. Hopkins also beat the Tigers in the tournament’s quarterfinals in 2016.
Silvio Ferraro returns as a varsity assistant coach and is the school’s soccer program’s advisor. Lewys Jones is back as the team’s goalie coach.
WHO’S GONE?: Erin Cleary, Stephanie Jordan, Ciara Henry, Julia Spiegel, Samantha Clarke and Christina Deconcini were among some of the graduates from last season’s squad. Cleary tallied twice in the team’s playoff win against Holy Child.
WHO’S BACK?: Junior forward Amelia Sheehan, who notched one goal and one assist, in last year’s postseason win, is, as Stuart said, “a very powerful and explosive player.”
Midfielder Alana Frederick begins her third season on the squad, despite being a sophomore. She helped pace the Tigers’ scoring a year ago.
“She’s a player who brings a lot of energy,” Smith said of Frederick. “She can score goals and get a lot of assists.”
Fernanda Serna, a midfielder, is coming off a productive freshman campaign. Anchoring the defense are Liddy, Laura Moore, Taylor O’Meara, Rachel Keefe and Hannah Dempsey. Corroon gives the team experience and skill in goal.
STRENGTHS: “I really love our defense, we have a great group,” Liddy said. “Lauren and I have played together for four seasons. Communication is our No. 1 thing on defense, as for speed, we have a lot of fast people on our team.”
CAPTAIN’S COMMENT: “We want to win the FAA Tournament,” Corroon said. “Last year, we were defeated in the semifinals, so our goal is to win the FAA title.”