Greenwich High

Seven goals from Bella Schraa and a strong second half lifted the Greenwich girls water polo team past Sacred Heart

Greenwich High School girls water polo coach Paul Constantin, right, addresses his team at halftime of their game against Sacred Heart Greenwich on April 21, 2021, at Greenwich High School.

Going undefeated is among the Greenwich High School girls water polo team’s list of goals this spring and just less than halfway into its season it’s on the type of winning pace it expected.

Junior Bella Schraa made sure the Cardinals kept their perfect record intact Wednesday with another sparkling performance.

Schraa’s game-high seven goals helped spark Greenwich to its fourth straight win to start the season, a 16-9 victory against visiting Sacred Heart Greenwich in the first matchup of the season between the squads. The Tigers (1-2) trailed just 5-4 after the first quarter, but the Cardinals outscored them 4-0 in the second quarter to open a 9-4 halftime lead.

“We started the first half and the second half pretty strong,” said Schraa, a junior co-captain. “Offensively, I feel our team is a powerhouse, but defense we need to work on a little, but it got us through the game. As a team, we are 4-0, so hopefully, we can keep it up.”

Bella Schraa (No. 4) lofts a shot over the head of Sacred Heart Greenwich goalie Claire Pittaro during a water polo game on April 21, 2021, in Greenwich. The Cardinals were victorious against the Tigers, upping their record to 4-0.

Ashley Hopper recorded three goals, while Emma Phillips and Ellen Norell each tallied twice for the victors.

“I was really impressed with the team’s performance, we started off really strong,” said Phillips, a junior co-captain. “The best thing was we started off really strong, which allowed us to get into our groove. Bella had an incredible game and I was impressed with our communication. We had players get into foul trouble, but we were able to compensate and have other players guard on defense.”

Coached by Gabriel Maldonado, Sacred Heart received a team-best five goals from senior co-captain Isabella Lippolis. Lippolis and senior co-captain Karina Adams have been mainstays on the squad numerous seasons.

“Me and my fellow co-captain started this team as eighth-graders and now we have come full circle,” said Lippolis, who will play water polo at Bucknell University next season. “It is hard to develop a team that is so mixed with different grades, but we’re doing a good job and I think we have a great bond of leadership.”

Greenwich had the depth advantage on Sacred Heart, which had just substitute players, but still gave a solid effort.

“We have a lot of underclassmen and some are touching a water polo ball for the first time in a year-and-a-half, due to the circumstances that we’re in,” Lippolis said. “It’s early in the season and we are going to get better every game.”

The Greenwich girls water polo team was victorious against visiting Sacred Heart Greenwich on April 21, 2021, at GHS.

Norell opened the match’s scoring, tallying in the first minute of the opening quarter. Schraa converted a shot at the 6:11 mark, then tallied again 31 seconds later, giving Greenwich a 3-0 first-quarter advantage. Norell’s second tally put the Cards ahead, 4-0, then Lippolis scored for the Tigers, making it 4-1. Schraa notched her third goal of the quarter off a quick shot from close in, giving the home team a 5-1 edge.

” I’m proud we have learned to work together,” Schraa said. “We have people from different club teams and people who don’t play year-round, so I’m really proud that we can get together and be successful each year.”

Greenwich’s Richa Vaid looks to take a shot on goal, while Sacred Heart goalie Claire Pittaro defends the goal.

Back-to-back goals from Isabella Adams and a tally from Lippolis cut Greenwich’s lead to 5-4 at the 3:38 mark of the first quarter. Greenwich then went on 4-0 spurt to take a 9-4 lead into halftime.

“Most of the team is new to water polo and the sport itself and this was only our third game of the season,” Isabella Adams said. “I think we played really well, we’re starting to work well as a team, instead of individual players. We are continuing to work on our team building and our bonding, because in water polo, that’s one of the most important things.”

Isabella Lippolis of Sacred Heart Greenwich, left and Bella Schraa of Greenwich compete during a water polo match.

CJ Weigel made 14 saves in goal for the Cardinals, who received one goal apiece from Cecile Whittle and Olivia Hopper. Rory Keller had one goal for the Tigers.

“I couldn’t ask for a better and a better team, especially after not having a season last year,” Phillips said. “It’s been such a fun season so far.”

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