Greenwich Academy

Greenwich Academy lacrosse team starts strong in home victory against Ridgefield

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich Academy scored eight goals in the first half and displayed solid defense against Ridgefield.

Getting off to a fast start has been a point of emphasis of the Greenwich Academy lacrosse team recently and it certainly began Tuesday’s game against Ridgefield with a flurry.

GA scored five goals the first 12 minutes of play, tallied eight times in the opening half and received standout defensive play throughout in cruising to a convincing 13-2 win over visiting Ridgefield.

“We’re proud of our team, because their intensity was great from the very beginning,” Greenwich Academy co-coach Katie Johnson said. “We sometimes come out and have a slow 10 minutes and they were really determined this week in practice to change that.”

Indeed they did. Senior midfielder/co-captain Margaret Maruszewski recorded three goals and one assist, and junior Maddie Holden tallied twice for the Gators, who received goals from 10 different players in the decisive victory.

“We were excited to see that they came out with fire in their belly and played well from the first minute,” Johnson said.

Following a tough start to the season in which it experienced losses against Wilton, Darien and Agnes Irwin, Greenwich Academy is gaining momentum – which began with this past Saturday’s 8-6 triumph against longtime rival Sacred Heart Greenwich.

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich Academy’s victory against Ridgefield on May 4, 2021, was its second straight victory.

“We just came off a really strong win against Sacred Heart, so everyone was feeling good and we just seemed like we were really settled on attack and we were really confident,” said Gators junior Emily Greenhaw, who had an assist in the win. “I think we are feeling good.”

The Dartmouth-bound Maruszewski started the game’s scoring, tallying off a shot from the right side 2:52 into the first half. Junior Ava Butz made it 2-0 by scoring off a dodge at the 20:47 mark. Using her speed and elusiveness, Maruszewski got a step on a Ridgefield defender and converted a shot on the run on a very tough angle, making it 3-0 with 17:39 to go in the opening half.

Junior attack Brecon Welch, who will play squash at Harvard, spun away from a defender on her way to tallying the game’s fifth goal with 12 minutes still remaining in the first half. Ridgefield goalie Bella Crowley made eight first-half saves, but was under a lot of pressure throughout, as GA dominated possession time in the first half.

“We all just came together after our win with Sacred Heart,” Holden said. “We had good momentum after that. Everything just started clicking on offense and our ‘D’ was strong and we were able to finish off our shots.”

Gathering a ground ball, GA sophomore defender Ellie Johnson helped set up the squad’s sixth goal, as she gained possession for the team before it tallied off a free position shot. Senior Rachel Rogers scored during a long GA possession and Maruszewski concluded GA’s dominant first half with a goal at the 5:46 mark, giving the home team a 5-0 advantage.

“Ridgefield is a good team,” Greenwich Academy co-head coach Melissa Anderson said. “I was keeping track of turnovers and we didn’t have many in the first half and one of the reasons why was that we were doing  great job on 50/50 balls.”

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich Academy’s lacrosse team gathers around coaches Melissa Anderson and Katie Johnson.

Meanwhile, the Tigers (3-5) couldn’t get a shot past Gators goalie Rebecca Arpano. A sophomore, Arpano made three first-half saves and had four for the game.

“Rebecca also had a couple of ground balls and couple of really good clears,” Anderson said.

Successfully clearing the ball out of the Gators’ zone has been of the trademarks of the team. Seniors Alessia Packard (who is going to play lacrosse at Cornell), Lila Murray (will compete at the University of Southern California) and Ellie Johnson have excelled at clearing the ball and moving it up the field to the midfielders.

“Credit to our defense this year,” Katie Johnson said. “This is the best clearing group of defenders that we’ve ever had in 10 years. They are all really steady with their stickwork. They’re fast, they make decisions, they have a good system. It’s been one of our strong points so far this season.”

In the second half, junior Ellie Burdick, Murray, Johnson, senior co-captain Paige Lipman (will play lacrosse at the University of Pennsylvania) and freshman Dylan Casazza each notched a goal for the victors. Ridgefield received second-half goals from sophomore Kate Tebbe and Aerin Krys.

“It took us a while to get chemistry and mesh, but now we are all playing really well and we are finding our mojo,” Greenhaw said. “That definitely builds the team spirit, it reinforces us.”

Lipman posted three draw controls, while Burdick and Butz each had two in the winning effort. Up next for GA is a road game on Friday against Deerfield Academy.

“We just kept the momentum going on offense today and were able to send great passes,” Holden said.

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