Greenwich Academy won three straight FAA Tournament soccer championships from 2016 to 2018, then advanced to the title game of the league tournament in 2019. The 2020 season had a different feel to it, however, as restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic had all teams playing just a handful of local scrimmages.
Now Greenwich Academy is back to playing a full 18-game schedule and it’s of course, hoping to continue its successful tradition in the FAA and NEPSAC.
“It’s nice to be playing again, it’s huge for our team,” said GA coach Alistair Lonsdale, who is beginning his 14th season at the helm of the varsity squad. “They can go as far as they want if they play well and get a good system of play. Our team gets into the season so much.”
In preparation for the upcoming season, Greenwich Academy scrimmaged Staples and New Canaan, both of which are formidable FCIAC teams. The Gators hosted New Canaan in a scrimmage game on Thursday.
“We always play really strong teams in scrimmages, because we want to play against the best players,” said Lonsdale, whose staff includes assistant coach Kate Sands – a 2014 GA graduate, who played soccer at the school. “We played two very strong FCIAC teams, which helps us going into the season.”
Providing plenty of leadership to this year’s Gators squad are senior captains Taylor Glanville and Lauren Harteveldt. They’re filling roles that 2021 graduates Ella Fugelsang, Paige Lipman and Schuyler Sargent played during the 2020 season.
“I’ve had three amazing years of captains to look up to,” said Harteveldt, who is beginning her fourth varsity season. “They have definitely helped me a lot. I think last year was tough to rally mentally, because we didn’t have a real season. This year, we are trying to come in with the best mindset we can, since we’re going to have a full, competitive season.”
Like Harteveldt, Glanville, a four-year varsity player, embraces her role as captain.
“I love being a captain, I’ve been on this team four years and have loved every second of it,” said Glanville, who scored the game-winning goal for GA in the FAA Tournament final against Rye Country Day School in 2018. “It’s very exciting, I’ve never been happier.”
Glanville helps key GA’s defense, with her skill and experience on the backline.
“Taylor is huge to the backline,” Lonsdale said. “She controls the game, she’s such a threat defensively and has a huge presence about herself.”
Said Glanville: “I play center-D and we all work together. It’s very much a team effort, because we all need to cover for each other. It is very much about communication and making sure we have each other’s back. Especially my right and left defenders, but the whole team has to help.”
Harteveldt is a midfielder on the right side and will be relied upon to help spark the squad offensively.
“Bonding as a team and becoming a very close team is one of the things I’m looking forward to most about the season,” Harteveldt said. “That’s something that we always achieve and it’s definitely always the highlight of the season for me. Our team has always had a special bond and being a part of this team is uplifting.”
Said Lonsdale: “Lauren is focused, fast, athletic and strong. She gives us an important presence out there.”
Freshman Este Tejpaul received the start in goal Thursday against New Canaan and junior Sonya Schloss also saw action in net.
“Este is a phenomenal goalkeeper,” Lonsdale said. “She has great delivery, is a great shot blocker and she is a born leader at a young age. Sonya is a very strong goalie, who works really hard on her skills. It’s good to have multiple goalkeepers who can help each other learn.”
Maya Tillman, a sophomore and sophomore Lola Tirabassi, who registered a goal in the Gators’ scrimmage versus New Canaan, will be looked upon to help spark the team at the forward position. Junior Ellie Burdick, junior Winnie Welch, Robyn O’Connor (junior), Molly Moore (sophomore) and Kit Harned (junior) are among some of GA’s returning midfielders who will receive plenty of action.
“Team spirit and camaraderie are our team’s main strengths,” Lonsdale said. “This team wants to work really hard and learn.”
SCHEDULE: Sept, 11, home vs. Greenwich Country Day School; Sept. 14, at Masters School; Sept. 18, at Rye Country Day School; Sept. 22 home vs. Choate Rosemary Hall; Sept. 23, at Holy Child; Sept. 25, home vs. Miss Porter’s; Sept. 28, at Hamden Hall; Sept. 29, home vs. Sacred Heart Greenwich; Oct. 5, at King; Oct. 6, home vs. Taft; Oct. 9, at Hotchkiss; Oct. 13, at Hopkins; Oct. 16, home vs. Tabor Academy; Oct. 20, home vs. Westminster; Oct. 21, home vs. Greens Farms Academy; Oct. 23, home vs. Kent; Oct. 27, at Loomis Chaffee; Oct. 29, at St. Luke’s. The FAA Tournament is scheduled to begin on Nov. 9.
“The other teams are going to be strong, every game is going to be hard,” Lonsdale said. “So we have to be prepared.”
“I’m very excited about our season, there’s a lot of potential,” Glanville said. “We still have to work a lot, but there’s a lot of potential. It is about putting the work in and never taking a break.”