Competing in the Hill School Invitational in Pottstown, Pa., was a great way for the Greenwich Academy ice hockey team to conclude its season.
“The girls were excited about going out there,” Greenwich Academy coach Erin Brawley said. “They were eager to play. We treated it like it was our New England Championships.”
Indeed, the tournament provided a sense of closure to the season for GA, which finished its 2021-2022 campaign with seven victories. The Gators played three games at the Hill Invitational from Friday-Sunday, going 1-2, while being very competitive in each game.
Greenwich Academy’s first game of the Hill Invitational came against Hill, the host team, on Friday. A strong Hill team posted a 4-2 win in a game that saw GA hold its own.
Senior Ava Butz scored the Gators’ first goal with 1:42 remaining in the second period off assists from seniors Lindsay Hasapis and junior Ellie Volpe. Junior goalie Liana Seeley’s performance in net was an impressive highlight for GA. Seeley made an astounding 62 saves in goal against Hill, turning away shots from all angles.
“She was outstanding as she has been all season long,” Brawley said of Seeley. “A 62-save performance was unreal. She was square to the puck, she collected the rebounds well. Liana made some diving saves and she everything to do to make the saves.”
Brawley was encouraged with the resolve her squad showed in the tournament’s opener.
“We got behind in the first period and the girls kept battling,” she said. “We were down 2-0 and we tied it 2-2. Our team fought hard and they set the tone for the rest of the tournament.”
GA’s next game of the Hill Invitational came on Saturday against Culver Academy. The final result was a 3-1 win for Culver, which is also a formidable team.
“Culver, they were outstanding, but we probably played the best hockey we played all year,” Brawley said.
Seeley had recorded 32 more saves for the Gators, who received a shorthanded goal from Volpe at the 11:35 mark of the second period (sophomore Peyton Williams had the assist).
“We knew we were going to be up against a big challenge, but the girls rose to the challenge,” Brawley said. “We played well all the way to the final buzzer.”
In the last game of the tournament on Sunday morning, which was also GA’s season finale, it was victorious against another local team that made the long trip to Pennsylvania – Greenwich Country Day School. Getting goals from Volpe and Ella Zea, Greenwich Academy notched a 2-0 triumph against Greenwich Country Day.
Volpe scored a power play goal with 7:01 left to play in the second period off an assists from Nina Herceg and Ava Butz. Zea tallied at the 14:22 mark of the third period and Williams was credited with the assist.
Brawley credited senior Jordan Pittignano for her fine defensive effort, Hasapis for helping lead the team on both ends of the ice and seniors Cameron Brower and Ava Butz for being defensive leaders.
Along with Seeley, Greenwich Country Day goalie Morgan Dall received All-Tournament Team accolades. After not having a season last winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Greenwich Academy’s played a full slate of games this season. They played an impressive 22 games.
“Our whole season has been the girls giving their heart,” Brawley said. “They never backed down. They went out and they grinded it out as hard as they could. They are going to be ready to go again next year.”