Whether it was the FAA Soccer Tournament finals or semifinals, or a regular season game, whenever Greenwich Academy and Sacred Heart faced each other in the past, it was usually an intense matchup that was decided in the closing minutes, or even overtime.
So when the Sacred Heart and host GA renewed their long-standing rivalry Wednesday, it wasn’t a surprise to see the score tied late in the second half.
Since it’s the regular season, overtime was not played, so Sacred Heart and Greenwich Academy settled for a 1-1 draw in a back-and-forth game in which each team had its moments.
“I feel the first half was very even and we feel disappointed not to get a win, because I feel in the second half we had them on their back foot,” said Tigers coach Stuart Smith, whose squad has a record of 2-3-1. “We were pushing on trying to find a goal. We couldn’t create that good opening for a goal. Their keeper made some good saves, but I’m really proud of the team for how they fought and battled.”
GA, which registered a 3-0 road victory against FAA foe Hamden Hall on Tuesday, sports a record of 5-1-2, following Wednesday’s tie.
“We didn’t play our style of football and we didn’t pass and move,” Greenwich Academy coach Alistair Lonsdale said. “Sacred Heart played hard, they played very well and the momentum shifted. They played with the momentum of the game and it made a difference. The first half we were okay, but we just didn’t do what we needed to do in the second half.”
Senior midfielder/forward Lauren Harteveldt scored in the first half for Greenwich Academy, while freshman forward Eva Wilkerson tallied in the second half for Sacred Heart.
The home team applied pressure on the Tigers early on, as junior goalie Zara Black made a save off a GA corner kick in the sixth minute, then kept it a scoreless game with a save off a Harteveldt shot in the seventh minute. Junior Ellie Burdick, Winnie Welch (junior) and freshman Sarah Huber effectively moved the ball up the field during the first half for the Gators, who saw Black execute a diving save off a shot in the box from Burdick in the eighth minute.
In the 15th minute, Greenwich Academy struck first, courtesy of freshman goalie Este Tejpaul and Harteveldt. After Tejpaul sent a long punt down the field, Harteveldt was able to control the ball, get past Tigers defenders and tally, giving GA a 1-0 advantage.
“Este kicked a tremendous punt and it bounced and flew over the Sacred Heart defense and I turned and ran onto it,” Harteveldt said of her goal. “It hit off my knee and I kept running and I think the Sacred heart defense fell and I slipped it in behind the goal. It was a really good feeling and a great start to the game.”
That was the lone goal GA managed against Sacred Heart, as Black was effective in goal in the first half, then junior goalie Daphne Hartch was impressive in the second half. Greenwich Academy’s Robyn O’Connor, Ali Jaquiery and Lola Tirabassi each sent shots in Black’s direction late in the opening half, but Black kept it a one-goal game.
The Tiger seized the momentum in the second half, with senior Justine Hounsell, Wilkerson, junior Lauren Griuriceo and sophomore Madison Hart helping to lead the way. Tejpaul stretched out wide to stop a shot off the foot of Hounsell with 32:45 remaining in the second half, then the Tigers evened the score at 1-1 with 30:51 remaining. On the equalizer, Wilkerson gathered the ball after a shot hit the left post and knocked her shot from close in, inside the right post.
“It felt so good to score that goal,” Wilkerson said. “We really wanted to win this game and we played well. We had heart and determination.”
In the final minutes, both squads tried to create chances to tally the go-ahead goal, but the score ended in a deadlock.
“Everyone was working super hard,” Hounsell said. “Everyone was fighting for each other and always being there for each other. It was a team effort, that’s what fueled the second half. The past few years it’s been a lot of pressure that we put on ourselves when we play GA. So even though tying isn’t the outcome we wanted, it is going to fuel us for the next time and gives us more confidence for the next game. We are probably going to see them again.”
The game will also serve as motivation for GA going forward.
“We’re going to use this as fuel to feed our fire,” Harteveldt said. “We have 11 more games left in the season and we are going to learn a lot from this and go into each of those very strong.”
Added GA senior Taylor Glanville: “We are going to use this as a learning experience. We started out okay, the first half, we played pretty well, we were playing on the floor a little, but the second half we weren’t. We just didn’t have the ball under control. But we’ll go forward from here.”