Sacred Heart Greenwich entered Thursday’s FAA Field Hockey Tournament semifinal against visiting St. Luke’s School with a record of 8-0 in league play, while allowing only one goal against FAA opponents the entire season.
Well, the Tigers continued that impressive trend Thursday, posting yet another shutout, while earning another trip to the championship game of the FAA Tournament.
Top-seeded Sacred Heart remained perfect against its league opponents and extended its overall winning streak to 13 games with a decisive 9-0 victory over fourth-seeded St. Luke’s in the FAA semifinals.
The Tigers (17-3) advanced to the FAA Tournament final, where they will host second-seeded rival Greenwich Academy Saturday at 11 a.m.
“I’m very happy for our team and this gives us some momentum and energy for the final,” Sacred Heart coach Alex Gheorghe said. “I’m just very happy for the team and proud of how they played.”
Senior co-captain/midfielder Caroline Nemec recorded a hat trick, while freshman Ainsley Clough tallied twice for Sacred Heart, which took a 4-0 lead on St. Luke’s into halftime. Junior Delfina Gonzalez Lobo, junior Vivi Caruso, senior co-captain Erin Griffin and Emma Marvin registered one goal apiece in the winning effort.
The game saw the Tigers control possession the majority of each quarter and force the Storm to play defense inside the circle.
“I think today we did a good job of passing and combining on the field,” Nemec said. “We wanted to work on connecting the passes from defense to offense easily and not make it such an individual game.”
Gonzalez Lobo opened the game’s scoring, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead 54 seconds into the first quarter. Nemec followed with a goal at the 13:05 mark of the opening quarter, then assisted on Clough’s tally with 8:58 to go in the second quarter, putting the home team on top, 3-0. Junior Kate Nemec, set up her sister Caroline, for the next goal, giving Sacred Heart a 4-0 halftime advantage.
While SHG possessed the ball, St. Luke’s defenders Olivia Jones and Andrea DiTeodoro worked hard throughout to try to clear the ball out of the circle.
“Everyone had really great energy, we were all hungry to win, it’s the semifinals, it’s a pleasure playing,” said Sacred Heart defender/midfielder Ines Araujo, who helped paced the team’s stellar play. “We just wanted to work really hard to make sure we made it to the final.”
In the second half, Sacred Heart began converting on its penalty corner opportunities. Caruso scored off a penalty corner on an assist from Kate Nemec with 10:48 left in the third quarter, then Caroline Nemec banged a shot home off another corner, making it 6-0 at the 9:52 mark of the quarter.
Griffin added a goal off a penalty corner also in the third quarter, then Clough and Marvin notched fourth-quarter goals for Sacred Heart, which received another shutout in goal by Teresa Harkins.
During their 13-game win streak, the Tigers have yielded only one goal. That goal came when they defeated their next opponent, Greenwich Academy, 3-1, during the regular season.
“It’s amazing how well we’re playing, we’ve worked so hard this season,” Gonzalez Lobo said. “We’ve had two amazing leaders, Caroline and Erin, and I think we have been giving it our all.”
Indeed, Gonzalez Lobo has enjoyed her junior season on the squad.
“It’s great, I have all my best friends on this team, I’ve made connections and getting off the field with a win and having all my friends here is just great,” Gonzalez Lobo said.
On Wednesday, Caroline Nemec signed a National Letter of Intent to play Division I field hockey at the University of Virginia.
“To finally be able to sign is great and to head there next year is fantastic,” Nemec said. “The level of play is so high there, I think it will be so great to be able to be at school playing so much and have that competitive atmosphere around me all the time.”
Greenwich Academy, which has only one FAA loss (to Sacred Heart) moved on to the finals by shutting down Greens Farms Academy, 6-0, in Thursday’s other semifinal matchup.
“We’re definitely really excited to have it home this year and we are fired up for what’s to come on Saturday,” Caroline Nemec said.
“We have to make sure that we’re in it and super hungry,” Araujo said of Saturday’s FAA championship game. “We just have to want it. We all trust each other and the reason why the team this year is so great is because we are all so close and we all trust each other.”