A lot of familiar FCIAC foes are on Greenwich High School’s girls lacrosse team’s schedule, but today, it faced an unfamiliar opponent in the form of Simsbury.
And the Cardinals impressively passed their test against their non-conference foe.
Excelling on both ends of the field, Greenwich jumped out to a five-goal halftime lead, which it built upon in the second of on its way to registering a decisive 13-5 victory against Simsbury at Cardinal Stadium.
The triumph upped the Cardinals’ record to 2-0 heading into Thursday’s road game against FCIAC rival Staples. Senior midfielder Noey Johnson, one of the Cardinals’ four captains, powered the squad offensively, recording a team-high give goals.
“The offense was great today,” Johnson said. “It was super exciting to play a team that we haven’t played before. We did a really good job, we cleaned up our plays and we did a really good job of finishing on our end.”
Sophomore midfielder Emma Abbazia had a hat trick with one assist, while junior midfielder/captain Sophia Neitzell tallied two goals and one assist for the Cardinals.
“I thought it was really fun,” Neitzell said of playing a non-conference opponent. “We didn’t really know anything about them and we thought they put up a really good fight, but we came out on top, so I’m very happy for us.”
Freshman Flynn Tauber tallied twice, senior defender/captain MK Savio added a goal, freshman attack Aubry Roth assisted on four goals and junior Cece Tauber had two assists for the victors. Greenwich’s offense had fluidity to it throughout today’s matchup.
“We’re working on a balanced offense and we were very pleased to see players step up today and play with confidence,” Greenwich third-year coach Tara Clough said. “It was great to see the ball movement and I’m happy with the overall contribution of the offense today.”
Junior goalie Daryl Furno aided Greenwich’s cause in a big way, registering nine saves to help spark the winning effort.
“It was a really great feeling,” Furno said. “My defense really stepped up today, giving me the right shots so that I would be able to make those saves and those clears, they were all right there to me, coming to me. Tonight in goal I felt really good.”
“Amazing, she really stepped up for us today, I’m really proud of her,” Clough said of Furno’s performance. “She played awesome today, making some key saves.”
For Simsbury (1-1), Sofia Smith, Taylor Truting, Elena Bontatibus, Sarah Perlitz and Mackenzie Chapman each had one goal.
“They were very athletic and I knew they were going to come here to play today. We knew it was going to be a tough game and it was, they have some great players.”
Chapman scored the game’s first goal, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead, then the Cards went on a 6-0 run to seize a comfortable five-goal advantage. Neitzell scored off an assist from Aubry Roth and Johnson converted a shot off an Abbazia pass, making it 2-1 with 17:13 remaining in the first half. Cece Tauber set Neitzell up for a goal, then Johnson scored again, this time off a feed from Aubrey Roth, putting GHS on top, 4-1, at the 15:03 mark of the opening half.
Neitzell sent a pass to Johnson, who scored from close in and Abbazia converted a free position shot, giving Greenwich a 6-1 lead with 10:16 to go in the opening half.
“The key was coming in with the attitude that we wanted to win,” Abbazia said. “We were all hyped and we knew we needed to start with an early lead, so we started with the momentum and it helped us.”
As the first half progressed, the Cards’ ball movement got better and better, enabling them to get quality shots on goal.
“We did a good job of adapting to how they came us,” Abbazia said. “We knew what we needed to improve on after every goal, which really helped us.”
“I’m so proud of us, I know we all worked hard during the offseason and our offense is really working well,” Neitzell noted.
Leading 8-3 at halftime, Greenwich quickly added on to its advantage once the second half commenced, as Savio and Johnson scored making it 10-3.
“It was definitely different, because you can’t expect anything and they are not an FCIAC team, so it was definitely different and we had to pick up our game and we did that,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, on the defensive end, Furno was stellar in goal, stopping several key shots. Savio, junior Sophie Roth, junior Kaitlin Kelly and junior Keira Young were among some of the Cards’ defenders that honed in on containing Simsbury.
“There is some great leadership back there, this is their second year playing together and they did a great job of slowing down their offense and shutting down their options,” Clough said of the Cardinals’ defense.
Following its game against Staples on Thursday, Greenwich returns home for a home matchup against Westhill on Tuesday.
“Last year against Staples, it was a really tough game for us and we got the win and we have only gotten better, so it should be a great game,” Abbazia said.
“I think these first two games are a really good indicator of how we’re going to play for the rest of the season,” added Johnson. “Everybody is super hungry to win and I think we are going to see that throughout the season.”
Said Furno: “We’re really coming out hot our attack is really powerful right now and our defense is really coming out. We are going to keep going, keep pushing.”