With the season rapidly coming to a close, the Greenwich Academy and Sacred Heart Greenwich water polo teams renewed their rivalry one last time this spring on Monday.
And the matchup this time around was closer than ever.
One of the honorees on the team’s Senior Day, Kaitlin Ganshaw scored a team-high six goals to lead Greenwich Academy to a 15-14 win over Sacred Heart in a well-played, back-and-forth game at the YMCA of Greenwich.
Ganshaw, a senior co-captain, scored five of her six goals during the third quarter for GA, which led 7-6 at halftime. Greenwich Academy concludes its season with a road game at Williston Northampton on Saturday.
“It’s really emotional for me, because I’ve been playing since eighth grade,” Ganshaw said. “I love the coaches, my co-coach Kayla Yelensky, played with me for four years. So graduating is really difficult for me, but it’s been an amazing experience. You learn so much playing from playing for GA water polo.”
Nina Chamberlain recorded four goals, while Devan Fauser had a hat trick for the Gators, who posted a 14-8 victory against Sacred Heart Greenwich last month.
“This is the best game we ever played, we had a lot of passion playing our rival school and I think we did a good job,” said Sacred Heart sophomore Isabella Adams, who scored a game-high seven goals. “I think we can do a lot of big things next year and I’m excited.”
Senior Isabella Lippolis and eighth-grader Annika Wise each tallied twice for the Tigers (3-5).
“This is my first game with the team,” Wise said. “I instantly clicked with all of them and I had fun playing with them. They were really easy to get along with and I’m really excited for next year.”
Ganshaw, goalie Else Esmond and Annabel Stickel were the three seniors honored by GA on Senior Day.
“We played some difficult teams, but we were prepared and ready for whatever came at us,” Esmond said. “It’s been awesome being on the team and I’ve learned so much. I am the goalie, so I get to observe everything. It has also definitely built up my strength a lot.”
Fauser opened the game’s scoring, then Lippolis tallied two straight goals to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. Ganshaw scored off a pass from Fauser, then with Sacred Heart leading, 4-3 late in the first quarter, Fauser tallied, evening the score.
Goals by Chamberlain and junior co-captain Lily Sorensen gave the Gators a 6-4 lead at the 5:14 mark of the second quarter.
“This was a really fun game,” Sorensen said. “It was super close, they’re a really good team and it was hard. I wanted this game for the seniors especially. It’s their last home game and we wanted to make it special for them.”
A three-goal run in early in the third quarter gave GA a 12-8 lead, before SHG closed to with 12-10.
“Compared to the beginning of the season, we’ve played so much better and we’re really bonding as a team and becoming more friends and that really helps in the pool,” Isabella Adams said.
Added Sacred Heart senior co-captain Karina Adams: “We’re ending the season on a good note, this is the closest we’ve ever been to our rival team and it’s great to see us all come together and put everything we have into this game.”
Alex Marshall and Rory Keller added one goal apiece for the Tigers.
“We are close friends in and out of the water and we communicate really well with each other,” Marshall said. “It’s great to see everyone is having fun in the water. We have a couple of games left and it’s going to be a great way to end the season.”
Sorensen and Tess Charney each scored one goal for Greenwich Academy, which received solid play in goal by Esmond. Claire Pittaro played in goal for Sacred Heart. Being in the pool was especially special for Stickel. She was sideline a portion of the season with an injury.
“This year, I started halfway through the year, because I had a concussion, so I’m really grateful that I still get to be a part of the team and be here and play,” Stickel said. “I feel real grateful that we are able to have this season.”
A goal from Chamberlain put Greenwich Academy on top, 15-13, with 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter, then Sacred Heart closed to within a goal with 11 seconds to go. But GA ran out the clock and held on for the win.
“Even though there wasn’t a New England tournament this year, it was nice to still play games and stay together as a team,” Stickel said. “We still had a lot of fun.”