The long-standing lacrosse rivalry between Greenwich Academy and Sacred Heart Greenwich is one that has included dramatic finishes, intense moments and spectacular play over the years and Wednesday’s matchup certainly added to the series’ storied legacy.
In a back-and-forth battle in which both teams had their moments of excellence, nothing was settled after 50 minutes of outstanding play, as the game went into overtime.
Then following two periods and six minutes of overtime came a result that neither team saw coming – a tie.
The much-anticipated 2022 Sacred Heart-Greenwich Academy matchup ended in a 7-7 overtime tie in a well-played game held before a big crowd at GA. Both teams wanted to play a third overtime and have someone declared the victor, but rules state in a regular season game, if game is tied after two overtime sessions, the final result should be a draw. The officials could have let the teams continue and play another OT, but they did not feel comfortable doing so, due to liability/injury concerns.
“Both teams want that win at the end of the day, if there was another sudden death victory it would have been great, but both teams came up with phenomenal defensive stands at the end of overtime,” Greenwich Academy co-head coach Halley Quillinan Griggs said. “It’s not easy to make two defensive stands in overtime. This was such an intense game, it’s a storied rivalry.”
The Gators held a 5-3 halftime lead, which they extended to 7-3 in the second half, before the Tigers stormed back to knot the score at 7-7 and force overtime.
“In the second half, we were able to get the draw so that we were able to get some time of possession,” Sacred Heart co-head coach Sharon Robinson said. “We had opportunities at the end of the second half, at the end of each period. I give a lot of credit to the Greenwich Academy defense, they played very well and they played very hard in the midfield. It was a great game overall.”
Junior attack Karina Sethi recorded a hat trick for Sacred Heart (5-0-1), which was ranked No. 19 in the recent national high school lacrosse poll. Senior midfielder Ava Butz and junior attack Dylan Casazza scored two goals apiece for Greenwich Academy (1-1-1). The game featured standout defensive play from both teams and impressive performances from each goalie, as GA’s Rebecca Arpano and Sacred Heart’s Laura O’Connor both made key saves throughout.
“We were down, but the energy that came from the sideline and from the defense and midfielders, helped us,” Sethi said. “It really reflected on the attackers and winning the draw helped get us opportunities to score.”
Butz, a senior co-captain, is accustomed to competing in tight GA-Sacred Heart lacrosse games throughout her career.
“We played 56 minutes and it was a tie, both teams played great today and I think our team turned a corner today,” Butz said. “That’s a very good team on the other end of the field and we always love to play them. It’s always a good game and I’m really proud of our team, everyone hustled until the end.”
Butz scored the game’s first goal, giving Greenwich Academy a 1-0 lead by converting a free position shot with 22:07 remaining in the opening half. She scored again at the 20:18 mark, dodging away from a defender before her shot from close range found the back of the net, putting GA on top, 2-0.
Casazza tallied off a well-executed dodge, making it 3-0 and prompting a Tigers timeout with 14:38 to go in the first half. Sophomore attack Payton Sfreddo got Sacred Heart on the scoreboard by scoring off a perimeter shot with 10:51 left in the first half, cutting GA’s advantage to 3-1. The Gators responded, however, getting another goal from Casazza at the 9:45 mark, which brought the score to 4-1.
Greenwich Academy, which defeated Sacred Heart twice in 2021, had the possession edge in the first half. Senior midfielder Taylor Glanville helped the Gators gain significant possessions in the opening half by earning several draw controls. Glanville praised the team’s defensive effort against Sacred Heart, which has a potent offense.
“I think our defense had an unreal game today,” Glanville said. “They held it for three or four minutes and they kept us in it. They really changed the game in my opinion.”
As is always the case, the atmosphere was electric, with both squads supported by their fan base.
“You have to try to block out the sidelines, but I think we did a pretty good job of blocking out the sidelines,” Glanville said of handling the emotion of playing in a high intensity game.
Trailing 4-1, the Tigers cut their deficit to two goals when senior attack Abby Barnett tallied with 6:32 to go in the first half. Driving hard toward the goal, Sethi turned the corner and scored on a shot from close in, bringing Sacred Heart to within 4-3 with 2:51 remaining in the opening half.
GA entered halftime with a 5-3 edge sophomore midfielder Amelia Lewis registered a goal as the half ended in a goal that was disputed by the Sacred Heart coaching staff, which believed the goal should be disallowed since they thought it came after time expired. It was difficult to hear the scoreboard’s buzzer signaling the end of the half and the officials said since they didn’t hear it, they could not take the goal off the scoreboard, so it was allowed.
“The goal at the end of the first half I think is highly contestable with the clock,” Robinson said. “It was disappointing that it wasn’t clear, but it is what it is, that’s the way it happens in some games. But we rallied in the second half, we came from behind and we had some really important goals when it mattered.”
The second half commenced with the Gators scoring two straight goals to seize a 7-3 advantage. Freshman attack Katie Barr finished off a feed 2:26 into the second half, making it 6-3, then senior midfielder Maddie Holden got a shot past O’Connor, giving GA a 7-3 lead with 17:30 to go in the game.
“I think we had a great game against another great team and we left it all out on the field,” said Holden a co-captain. “I think everyone should be proud, because we left it out there.”
On the ensuing draw, Sacred Heart unfortunately, suffered an injury. Sfreddo, one of the Tigers’ leading scorers, went down to the artificial turf with an injury to her right foot. She was carried off the field and brought to the sideline, where she was treated by the trainers, before leaving the school with her family.
Facing a 7-3 deficit, Sacred Heart Greenwich began its comeback. Sethi scored off a dodge-and-shoot with 14:46 left to play, then sophomore defender Olivia Leahy tallied off a free position attempt, cutting GA’s lead to 7-5 with 6:52 remaining.
Sophomore Maggie Bacigalupo notched a goal with 5:39 left with SHG in its settled offense and with 3:15 to go in the second half, Sethi completed her hat trick, making it 7-7.
“GA fought hard, but we fought harder when we came back and I’m super proud of the team and how we were able to handle the pressure in an intense environment like this one,” Sacred Heart midfielder/co-captain Franny O’Brien said.
Said Greenwich Academy co-head coach Katie Johnson: “As always, Sacred Heart has a ton of fight in them. Even when they were down a couple of goals, no one thought they were going to roll over and they came back and they got a few draws and got some momentum in the second half. Overtime, we got the ball on our stick both times, but we couldn’t convert. I’m super proud of our defense for making big stands in both overtime periods.”
Indeed, during overtime, goalies O’Connor for SHG and Arpano for GA kept the score knotted with impressive saves. Juniors Ellie Johnson and Kate Haffenreffer helped anchor GA’s defensive effort with important clears throughout, while seniors Annie O’Connor and Lauren Giuriceo sparked Sacred Heart’s defense.
“They’re a team that really excels on the dodge, so we made some adjustments at the end and threw a zone in there,” Quillinan Griggs said. “Kate Haffenreffer, she’s the backbone of our zone defense and gives us an ability to pressure the dodger but always have help.”
Said Arpano of playing in overtime: “It’s definitely a little nerve-wracking going into overtime, but the defense made some amazing stands at the end. We were running a backer and we just made a lot of good plays. I wish we could have kept going. I think we had them in the beginning, but the defense made some great stands at the end. Hopefully, we get to play them again.”
“They had a few girls that could dodge and score and we only let them score a few goals and we were really tight on cutters at the beginning, which gave us an early lead at the beginning,” Arpano continued.
In previous seasons, the victor left the field cheering and celebrating. This time, both teams were had an unusual tie score to reflect upon.
“The GA game is always much anticipated and a lot of fun,” said Giuriceo, a co-captain. “I could not be prouder of our team for battling down from a four-goal deficit in the second half. That was a standout moment of grit and our training really showed through. It’s disappointing that we couldn’t finish it out in a decisive manner.”
Said O’Brien: “It’s a big rivalry, so it felt good to come back and to walk away with a tie, it’s not ideal, but it’s better than a loss. I wish we could have put it to better use or go to another one, but I’m happy with the team and happy with how we left if all out on the field.”
“It’s better than a loss,” Butz noted.
Categories: Greenwich Academy, Sacred Heart Greenwich, Spring sports
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