Greenwich Academy goalie Este Tejpaul was certainly tested throughout Wednesday’s soccer game against visiting Westminster School, as she turned away shots from all angles.
GA’s freshman goalie made more than a dozen saves against a relentless Westminster team, which managed to tally two second half goals to secure a hard-fought 2-0 win. The Gators return to FAA action today against visiting Greens Farms Academy. Currently, GA is in a first-place tie with St. Luke’s School in the FAA with a 7-0-1 record.
Behind a strong defensive effort and numerous saves from Tejpaul, Greenwich Academy entered halftime against Westminster in a scoreless tie.
“The first half we started really well, the first 15 minutes, we came out really strong,” GA coach Alistair Lonsdale said. “Then they started to play really well, Este kept us in the game.”
The Martlets generated a number of scoring chances in the first half, but Tejpaul and the Gators kept it a scoreless game. She blocked a shot from close in with 1:30 remaining in the first half, made a save off a corner kick in the 37th minute and turned away a shot with in the 33rd minute – saves which highlighted her first half.
“She made some magnificent saves, they were brilliant,” Lonsdale said of Tejpaul. “She made saves from crosses, from shots – I was taken aback by it.”
Greenwich Academy, which was sparked defensively and in the midfield by senior co-captain Taylor Glanville and junior Kit Harned in the back, did all it could to hold off Westminster.
“They were brilliant, their two wide players were fast and technical,” Tejpaul said of Westminster. “As a defense, we really had to stay together and we did really well.”
Tejpaul has gained valuable experience from starting in goal for the varsity squad as a freshman.
“It was a really exciting game,” Tejpaul said. “I’m fortunate this year to play with these varsity girls, it’s really great. I’ve learned so much from playing soccer itself. It’s been so much fun.”
In the 41st minute – 1:52 into the second half – Westminster took a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Kaitlyn McQueeney served her corner kick into the box and sophomore Haley Cramer got a good touch on the ball, directing it toward the goal. A GA defender attempted to clear the ball out of the goal, but the ball had already crossed the line and Westminster went ahead, 1-0.
It remained a 1-0 game for most of the second half, as Tejpaul continued to shine in goal. Freshman Mia Wilson, sophomore Lola Tirabassi and junior Ellie Burdick helped pace GA’s offensive play, while senior Ali Jaquiery and Glanville guided the squad’s effort in the midfield.
“I was proud of us, because people were coming on and off and we were trying new things,” Glanville said. “Everyone gave 100 percent effort and that’s all we can ask for. I think we played really well and everyone individually and collectively, put in a good effort.”
The Martlets extended their lead to 2-0 in the 78th minute. With GA having everyone play up in an attempt to tally the equalizer, Westminster gained possession after coming up with the ball on a Gators free kick.
Sophomore Blessing Kieh, who dribbled the ball down the right sideline on a breakaway, took a shot that Tejpaul deflected. Westminster junior Paige Smith was right there to for the rebound and found the back of the net with a shot from close range, making it 2-0.
“The kids tried hard and hung in there all the way through and played very hard,” Lonsdale said. “I’m happy with this team, they’ve played teams close every game.”
Said GA assistant coach Kate Sands: “It was a great team performance. This team has gotten better and better as the year has gone on. The fact that we’ve been able to play these good teams as close we’ve been able to is wildly impressive, so I’m proud.”
Westminster raised its record to 8-2-1 with the road victory. Greenwich Academy’s game against Greens Farms Academy is scheduled to start today at 4:15 p.m.
“At the end, we were playing to feet and getting better and it was good that we kept pressing,” Glanville said. “You can feel the energy in our team.”