Greenwich’s girls ice hockey team wasted little time in setting the tone of Monday’s FCIAC Tournament quarterfinal against Wilton-Norwalk-McMahon.
Just 7:30 into the postseason matchup, the Cardinals tallied four times and were on their way to skating toward a decisive victory, while earning a berth in the conference tournament semifinals.
Sophomores Elizabeth Anderson and Kelsey Roth scored two goals apiece, junior Lexi Danielson had one goal and one assist and sophomore Caroline Lawrence registered three assists for fourth-seeded Greenwich, which cruised to an 8-0 win over fifth-seeded Wilton-Norwalk-McMahon at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.
With the victory, the Cardinals advanced to Thursday’s FCIAC semifinals, where they will play top-seeded Darien at Darien Ice House. The Blue Wave moved on to the semifinal-round by posting a 9-0 triumph against No. 8 Ridgefield-Danbury in Monday’s quarterfinals.
“Everything from eating, practicing and communication within each other is important for us the next few days,” said Danielson, a forward. “We have to focus on that throughout the next few days in order to be successful in our next game.”
Though the Cardinals (7-4-2) dropped a 7-1 decision to Darien at Darien Ice House when the squads first met on March 3, they played the Blue Wave to a 1-1 tie in the rematch at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink last week.
“We have the right mindset for the next game,” said Greenwich junior defender Tess Marciano, who also recorded two goals on Monday. “It’s about getting ready to play, not letting up and following up with this win. Bringing the motivation and intensity we had from this game into our next game will be important.”
Cardinals senior goalie Hannah Goldenberg had another sparking game, making 15 saves for the shutout win. Goldenberg has only allowed one goal in the Cards’ last two games.
“Hannah played very well once again,” Greenwich coach Alex Lerchen said. “Goaltending has not been a problem for our team this season. “We’ve received excellent play from our goalies throughout the season.”
One of Wilton’s best scoring opportunities came seconds after the game’s opening faceoff. Freshman Julia Bella received a pass in front and tried to poke the puck past Goldenberg, who registered her first save of the matchup.
“The first shift, we had a chance to put the puck in the net,” Wilton-Norwalk-McMahon coach Peter Maxfield said. “It was like that a few times during the game, but we unfortunately, we couldn’t get the puck over the line. But I wasn’t disappointed in the effort the girls gave. We have definitely improved. Our team as a whole is very young, we have a lot of freshmen and sophomores playing and they have definitely improved throughout the year.”
Danielson lit the scoreboard first for the Cardinals. Skating hard to the net, she snapped a shot from close in past Warriors junior goalie Emily Johnson, giving Greenwich a 1-0 lead 1:23 into the opening period. Putting traffic in front of the net, the Cardinals’ next goal came with 12:53 remaining in the first period. Anderson, a sophomore forward, tallied off a rebound, making it 2-0. Lawrence assisted on the game’s second goal.
Sophomore Hannah Wahl converted a shot from the right win at the 10:35 mark of the first period, then Anderson scored again with 8:30 still to go in the period, putting the Cards ahead, 4-0.
“We tried to get the puck to the net and we did a good job of finding open lanes and getting traffic in front,” Lerchen said. “Our team did a good job of getting traffic in front. We talked about shooting low and working hard to get rebounds. Against Darien on Thursday, we have to put our best foot forward. We must generate more offense than we have against them in the past.”
The Cards, who outshot the Warriors, 14-3 in the first period, scored a pair of goals in both the second and third periods. Kelsey Roth tallied 12 seconds into the second period, after Greenwich controlled the faceoff and Marciano scored at the 2:20 mark of the period.
“Earlier in the season, we had difficulty coming together as a team with a lot of new players, but now we’ve gotten our flow and as a team we have come together,” said Marciano, who along with seniors Delaney Roth and Emiri Fukuchi helped pace the team’s strong defensive effort. It is reflecting in our game and skills. We’re getting more shots and defending well.”
Added Lawrence, who assisted on Greenwich’s second, third and fourth goals: “Now that we’ve really bonded and become a team, our lines are working really well together and we’re making good passes. We are setting each other up and going straight to the net.”
Kelsey Roth and Marciano each scored in the third period for Greenwich, with received two assists from junior Lily Bates and one assist from sophomore Sophie Roth. Goldenberg made eight saves in the third period to seal the shutout, stopping shots from the Warriors’ Rachel Calabrese, Jane Hulse and Rachel Slater.
“Greenwich always plays tough, they were really good about stopping us from getting initial shots,” Maxfield said. “They are a very solid team, forward to back.”
So now the Cardinals have two days to prepare for their toughest test of the season to date: another game against No. 1-seeded Darien.
“We have shown that if we work our hardest can compete with them,” Lawrence said.
Added Danielson: “We have to come out a lot stronger, keep up the motivation and play for the seniors.”