Greenwich Academy and St. Luke’s are building quite an FAA soccer rivalry.
In 2019, the teams played each other in the championship game of the FAA Tournament, with the Storm claiming the championship trophy. Friday, the Storm and Gators met again with the tournament title once again, at stake.
And as was the case two seasons ago, St. Luke’s took the title.
Registering one goal each half, top-seeded St. Luke’s recorded a well-earned 2-0 victory over third-seeded Greenwich Academy, before a large crowd at St. Luke’s in New Canaan. The triumph completed an undefeated season in FAA play for St. Luke’s, which is 12-0-1 against its league foes. The Storm also sport a sparkling 14-1-1 record overall and are now headed to the NEPSAC Tournament.
“It is a great accomplishment,” St. Luke’s coach Dan Clarke said. “We won the regular season (title) and it was always one of our goals to follow that up with winning the tournament title too.”
Ali Gall converted a penalty kick in the first half for the victors. In the second half, Aidan Panian scored off a corner kick for St. Luke’s, which was victorious in the regular season against GA, 2-1.
With the loss, the Gators finished their season at 9-3-1 in the FAA. Greenwich Academy advanced to the championship game by outlasting second-seeded Greens Farms Academy, 1-0, in a semifinal-round game that was decided by penalty kicks on Wednesday. They opened the FAA Tournament by defeating Hopkins School in the quarterfinals, 3-1.
“Today was an unfortunate result for us, but the whole season was great for our team,” Greenwich Academy senior forward/co-captain Lauren Harteveldt said. “We had a lot of fun, while playing an intense schedule. We played 100-plus minutes of soccer in the semifinals against Greens Farms on Wednesday, so we played a lot of soccer this week. I’m so proud of everyone for the hard work and effort they put into this season.”
Gall gave St. Luke’s a 1-0 lead with a goal off a penalty kick, after GA was whistled for a foul. The Gators drew a corner kick late in the opening half, but Storm senior goalie Ashley Barton kept it a 1-0 game.
“They were better than us today and they deserved to win,” Greenwich Academy coach Alistair Lonsdale said. “Hopefully, the kids learn from it. Having that game on Wednesday against GFA was tough. We also played Hopkins on Monday in a tough game, then we went up against a really good GFA team. I’m thankful to our seniors and proud of the season we had.”
Greenwich Academy junior Ellie Burdick registered a shot on goal in the opening minutes of the second half and junior Robyn O’Connor lofted a long shot toward the goal several minutes later, as the Storm kept their one-goal lead.
St. Luke’s freshman Lena Olbrys hit the post with a cross in the 52nd minute and GA freshman goalie Este Tejpaul made a save off a Storm corner kick in the 54th minute, keeping the score 1-0.
“I thought we dominated the game from start to finish today and that’s not easy against Greenwich Academy, we know they’re going to come out strong every time,” Clarke said. “I thought we really controlled the game. Their goalkeeper made three or four excellent saves and we did just enough to win the game.”
St. Luke’s extended their lead with 21:34 remaining in the second half. Gall directed her corner kick into the box and rising up for a header, Panian, placed it in the back of the net, giving the Storm a 2-0 advantage.
GA drew three corner kicks just past the midway point of the second half, but St. Luke’s held them off the scoreboard, with solid corner kick defense. Burdick, sophomore Lola Tirabassi, Ruby Montanez and junior Winnie Welch each helped pace GA’s effort offensively in the second half.
“I couldn’t be happier, we came together and we pushed as hard as we could,” said Greenwich Academy midfielder/defender Taylor Glanville, who produced a strong season. “Today, we were tired, but everyone tried their best. It may not have gone the way we wanted it to, but I’m still happy with everyone.”
St. Luke’s made it to the title game by blanking fifth-seeded Rye Country Day School in the semifinals, 2-0.
“There’s a lot of good teams in this league, so we know every time we step on the field it’s going to be a challenge,” Clarke said. “We had a great season, we finished 14-1-1, so we will be going into New Englands next.”
Clarke was especially pleased with his squad’s effort against Greenwich Academy.
“When we play against GA, we know we are going to have to give maximum effort, but we matched them in every department and we were able to play some of our soccer and create enough chances to win the game,” he said. “The effort the girls gave today was superb.”
Greenwich Academy is accustomed to playing for the FAA Tournament title. They won the FAA championship three consecutive seasons from 2016-2018 and lost in the final in 2019.
“We have a lot of players coming back next year,” Lonsdale said. “We’ll regroup and work toward it again.”
The matchup marked the final game for GA’s seniors – Harteveldt, Glanville, Sophie Burraway and Ali Jaquiery.
“This was my best season,” Jaquiery said. “I came into the season strong, worked hard and tried to set an example as a senior. I think the hard work we all put in really paid off this year. Coming off the semifinals, where we went through two overtimes and penalty kicks, into today’s game was crazy, but we all played so hard right up until the end.”
Said Burraway: “It felt great to be one of the senior leaders of the team and I tried to keep up my role as someone the younger players could look up to. This was a tough loss today against a very good St. Luke’s team, but we have a lot to be proud of.”