Through its first four games of the season, the Greenwich Academy soccer team has registered 17 goals, while allowing a miniscule four tallies. Now that’s what you call an impressive start to the season.
Playing a feisty School of the Holy Child team on the road, Greenwich Academy managed to tally twice during a challenging first half, then raised its level of play in the second half of Monday’s matchup.
Though GA didn’t increase its lead in the second half, it maintained its advantage and controlled the action with aggressive play in a 2-0 win over Holy Child in an FAA game.
The victory improved the Gators’ record to 4-0, heading into Wednesday’s showdown against visiting NEPSAC foe Choate Rosemary Hall.
“We’re off to a good start,” GA senior midfielder/co-captain Lauren Harteveldt said. “We have many big games ahead of us, so it’s nice to start the season on a good note and have some momentum going into the big New England games.”
Sophomore forward Maya Tillman and junior midfielder Ellie Burdick scored Greenwich Academy’s goals, both of which came in the first half. Este Tejpaul, a freshman, made three saves in goal for the shutout win for GA, which outshot Holy Child, on a mid-summer-like afternoon, 17-3.
“They played really hard in the second half and they redeemed themselves,” GA coach Alistair Lonsdale said of his squad. “It’s always a good sign when your side responds to you with a good performance in the second half.”
Tillman scored the only goal Greenwich Academy needed on this day, tallying in the sixth minute off an assist from sophomore forward Lola Tirabassi. On the goal, Tillman booted a shot from approximately five yards out, past Gryphons sophomore goalie Anna Klein.
“Once Lola got it up in the air and I hit it off my chest, I knew it was a good ball, I knew it was a solid hit,” Tillman said. “We did well with finishing in the first half. In the second half we did well with keeping it at our feet. We also did a good job of keeping possession and keeping it in their half.”
With only 55 seconds remaining in the opening half, Greenwich Academy padded its lead, thanks to Burdick. Her shot from approximately 30 yards out on the right side found the back of the net, giving GA a 2-0 advantage going into halftime.
“It really started with the defense putting the pressure on them,” Burdick said of her goal. “We were able to get the ball into their half and it was all the defense and the middies keeping it up there. By putting constant pressure on them, we were able to put it in the back of the net.”
The first half saw GA outshoot Holy Child 7-2. Tirabassi, junior Winnie Welch, Tillman, sophomore Molly Moore and Burdick helped give GA a boost offensively in the first half, then in the second half, the team registered 10 shots and upped their intensity.
“They were well organized, they’re a good team,” Lonsdale said of Holy Child. “They caused us a lot of problems in the first half. The second half, we were faster and sharper with possession. We were more aggressive in coming to meet them and win their passes.”
Senior co-captain Taylor Glanville helped keep Greenwich Academy organized and effective defensively throughout, while junior midfielder Kit Harned and Harteveldt efficiently moved the ball to their teammates and created scoring opportunities.
“We really need to make sure our heads are in the game,” Glanville said. “It’s about attitude and how hard we work and I’m happy that we were able to turn it around. Everyone rose to the occasion and we figured it out and I’m proud of them.”
Burdick, Tirabassi, Harteveldt, Tillman and Robyn O’Connor were among some of GA’s players that directed shots during Holy Child’s Klein in the second half.
“At halftime, we really focused on certain goals, like communicating better,” Burdick said. “And with that communication, it really helped us find each other on the field, find our feet and look for opportunities ahead of us.”
Said Harteveldt: “Although the first half wasn’t the best half we played, I’m really proud of the team and how we came out in the second half. We gave 110 percent effort.”
In Greenwich Academy’s 4-2 win against FAA rival Rye Country Day School this past Saturday, Harteveldt tallied twice, while Tillman and Tirabassi added one goal apiece. Tirabassi, Harned and senior Ali Jaquiery each registered assists.
GA also beat Masters School last week, 6-1. Glanville scored twice, while Welch, O’Connor, senior Sophie Burraway each had one goal.
“I think we’re really clicking,” Tillman said. “We’re working together as a team.”