After showing steady, significant improvement last fall, the Greenwich High School girls soccer team, which appeared in the postseason in 2020, is ready to take the next step.
“We got a taste of making a playoff game last year, which was enjoyable,” said Greenwich coach Simon Rumbold, who is starting his fifth season at the helm. “It was the first time we made it in the last few years, so we want to be involved in it again. This group is excited about the prospect of making it to states and getting into the FCIAC playoffs.”
Last season saw the Cardinals advance to the FCIAC West Region Tournament semifinals, where they were edged by New Canaan, 2-1. Posting several impressive victories, Greenwich finished its 2020 season with a record of 5-4-1, including a victory against New Canaan.
Though the 2020 season was shortened and modified due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Cardinals still extracted plenty from the season and are primed to play a full schedule of games this fall.
“We hope to use last year as a springboard to now,” Rumbold said. “The whole situation was tough last year, but in terms of us, it gave us a year of development. We played some good teams and we used it to try to get some youngsters involved and gain some experience.”
Indeed, the Cardinals are psyched to play much more of its FCIAC opponents this season, after playing just a handful a year ago.
“I’m looking forward to playing all the teams,” Greenwich senior co-captain Skyler Scavo said. “Last year, my first year, I only got to play four teams. So I’m looking forward to playing everyone this year.”
A center back, Scavo helps solidify the Cardinals’ defense, which could be one of the squad’s strengths.
“I think we have strengths in all three lines,” Scavo said. “Everyone is putting in a lot of effort and hard work, so hopefully, all of that shows throughout the whole team.”
Said Rumbold: “Skyler is extremely strong 1-vs.-1, she’s a good organizer and she’s one of the strongest defensively in the league. She has great character and she works very hard.”
Senior co-captain Sofia DeVito begins her third season on the varsity squad. The Cards will rely upon her for a lot of production at the center midfielder position.
“During preseason, everyone has been working hard,” DeVito said. “Being a captain is awesome, I’ve been with the program my entire high school career and it’s just great to lead all the girls and be a leader.”
“Sofia is a technical soccer player,” Rumbold said. “She’s good on the ball and as far as getting everyone on board, she has been fantastic. I’m excited about these two captains, they have a good handle on the group.”
Greenwich graduated 13 seniors from last season’s successful squad, two of whom were captains Sophia Bastek and Kristen Berzolla. Bastek, who sparked the Cards offensively, is playing collegiate soccer at Carnegie Mellon. Berzolla helped lead Greenwich’s backline. Bea Owens, a midfielder and defender Celine Cohen were also among some of the team’s key graduates.
Numerous underclassmen received significant playing time in 2020 and they’re ready to make their mark this season.
“We have good players coming in and the girls who were underclassmen last year got a taste of it and so far they are stepping up and we are hoping it’s going to be a good season,” said Rumbold, whose varsity coaching staff includes assistant Erin Martschenko.
Sophomore Meghan Ross, who started every game last year as a freshman, is a defender that will line up alongside Scavo.
“She is extremely quick, reads the game very well, a strong defender and good on the ball,” Rumbold said of Ross.
Junior Caroline Lawrence brings versatility to the team.
“Caroline has been outstanding for us throughout,” Rumbold said. “We can put her in the midfield, put her on the wing, we can put her in back – she’s been strong.”
Last season saw Ali Pennella and Julia Acosta power the Cardinals up front and at midfield, as they tallied a number of clutch. Pennella is a junior, while Acosta is a sophomore, after starting as a freshman in 2020.
“Ali scored a lot of goals off free kicks for us last year and Julia Acosta burst onto the scene as a freshman and scored a lot of goals,” Rumbold said.
Senior Kelly Martyanov, who is in her fourth season on the team, Sammy Craven (junior), Scarlett Brooks (senior) and Emma Abbazia (sophomore) are among some of the Cards’ forwards.
“We had a lot of scoring potential last year, now it’s about turning that into goals,” Rumbold said. “It’s something we’re capable of doing.”
Junior Isabella Gega, who was strong in goal last season, returns. Lara Olmstead (sophomore) and Ricia Void (senior) are also goalies. The Cardinals’ season-opener is Thursday against Brien McMahon in Norwalk at 6 p.m. Their home-opener is Monday at 4:30 p.m. against Fairfield Ludlowe.
“Last year we didn’t have as many games, but this season, we’re getting back to how things used to be, so it’s very exciting for all of us,” DeVito said. “We’ve been working very hard, so keeping up with our hard work and intensity in practices with help us show that during our games.”
Like Scavo, DeVito embraces her role as captain.
“It’s been really good, I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to where I am as a captain today, so it’s been a good experience for me,” she said.
SCHEDULE: The Cards’ home games include: Fairfield Ludlowe (Sept. 13), Staples (Sept. 17), Fairfield Warde (Sept. 23), New Canaan (Sept. 30), Darien (Oct. 4), Westhill (Oct. 15), St. Joseph (Oct. 22) and Stamford (Oct. 25). Greenwich visits McMahon (Sept. 9), Norwalk (Sept. 20), Trumbull (Sept. 27), Ridgefield (Oct. 6), Danbury (Oct. 12) and Wilton (Oct. 18).
“Everyone is looking to play really well this year,” Scavo said. “We all want to put in that effort. From last year to this year, you can see the improvement that everyone is willing to make. Putting all of our effort into practice will make a difference in the games.”