Brien McMahon scored early, but the Greenwich High School girls soccer team certainly made sure the Senators didn’t tally often during Thursday’s season-opening game in Norwalk.
After the Senators notched a goal 25 seconds into the game, it didn’t score again. Meanwhile, the Cardinals who entered the season knowing they had numerous players capable of generating goals, showed its scoring potential.
Receiving goals from Julia Acosta, Haley Townsend and Emma Abbazia, Greenwich shook off McMahon’s early tally and proceeded to post a 3-1 road victory.
“It was an energetic, fast-paced game,” said Greenwich coach Simon Rumbold, who is beginning his fifth season with the Cardinals. “It was competitive, with everyone working hard. We didn’t get off to a great start, but as we worked into the game we managed to play better.”
The home team took a 1-0 lead seconds into the game. Junior forward Brynne Korzenik controlled a pass, moved the ball inside the box and booted a shot inside the right post, giving McMahon the edge 25 seconds into the first half. The Senators nearly took a two-goal lead, but they had a shot hit the post, then the Cardinals began building momentum. In the 10th minute shortly after a throw-in by senior defender/co-captain Skyler Scavo, Greenwich tallied the equalizer.
In transition, Acosta, a forward, weaved her way past a defender and deposited a shot past McMahon junior goalie Sam Farrar inside the left post, evening the score at 1-1.
“I just saw the ball and I just took it from the defender and there were defenders coming, but you just have to push them off and then you have to take the shot, because you never know if it will go in or not,” Acosta said of her goal.
As the game progressed, Greenwich connected more with its passes and increased its pressure on McMahon.
“You have to be everywhere on the field to generate scoring chances,” Acosta said. “You have to make runs behind, check to the ball and move for every single player and be there to receive it and take shots. The first goal that we got scored on woke us up, so we actually put some more pressure on them and managed to win.”
Cardinals senior goalie Isabella Gega kept it a 1-1 game with a save off a header on a corner kick initiated by Senators freshman Gretchen Klein late in the first half. Midway through the second half, Rumbold inserted junior forward Haley Townsend into the game and she quickly gave the squad a lift.
Getting the ball in space at the top of the box, Townsend charged toward the net and tallied from close in, putting Greenwich ahead for good at 2-1 with just over 16 minutes remaining in the second half.
Abbazia, who ignited the Cardinals’ lacrosse team with a wealth of timely goals during the spring, showed she can spark the offense on the soccer pitch as well. Her goal late in the second half gave GHS a 3-1 advantage.
“One of my teammates sent it back to me and I knew the game wasn’t over, so I just shot it and saw an opening,” Abbazia said. “We have a lot of great players, which is really good, so we’ll have a lot of wins in the future. Our defense played really well. Our back three stayed really strong and held us together.”
Gega made six saves in goal for the Cards, whose impressive defensive effort was paced by Scavo, junior Meghan Ross and junior Caroline Lawrence.
“I’m so happy that we started off like this, because it keeps the momentum going,” said Scavo, who along with senior midfielder Sofia DeVito, captains the team. “We just needed to calm down, because we were all hyped and ready to play. As soon as we calmed down, we began playing better. We all put in the effort tonight.”
Said Rumbold: “It’s great to get our first win, our team battled really hard. McMahon is a very physical team that battled really well and we matched that intensity, which was great to see.”
Junior Sammy Craven and senior Scarlett Brooks were aggressive along the sidelines, while freshman Taylor Carrescia was in the mix throughout the game.
Greenwich will look to go to 2-0 when it hosts Fairfield Ludlowe on Monday.