Fall sports

Season preview: Greenwich Academy field hockey team determined to make its mark against its competitive opponents

Photo by David Fierro: From left to right: Sienna Tejpaul, Laetitia Cartellieri and Ellie Johnson are senior captains of the Greenwich Academy field hockey team, which enters the season with plenty of optimism.

Competing for championships is a scenario the Greenwich Academy field hockey team has certainly become accustomed to over the years.

For decades, Greenwich Academy has advanced to the championship game of the FAA Tournament and in recent seasons, the team has made a serious bid to capture the NEPSAC Class A title.

After making it to the FAA Tournament final and traveling to the NESPAC Class A Tournament semifinals last fall, GA enters the upcoming 2022 season with lofty goals and high expectations.

“We expect to go all the way,” said Greenwich Academy coach Jamie Brower, who took over the helm in 2014. “We have the ability and skill and that’s what we’re aiming for. Our team has a lot of potential, which is great.”

The Gators, who open their season with a home game against The Hill School on Sept. 10, were edged by Phillips Academy Andover, 3-1, in the semifinal-round of the 2021 NEPSAC Class A Tournament and were defeated by rival Sacred Heart Greenwich, 2-0, in last season’s FAA Tournament final. For the season, GA registered a record of 15-7.

Photo by David Fierro: Sienna Tejpaul is a senior captain of the Greenwich Academy field hockey team.

Greenwich Academy heads into the season with skill and depth at each position, with its senior captains leading the way at each area of the field. Laetitia Cartellieri, Ellie Johnson and Sienna Tejpaul are the senior captains GA is relying on for leadership and production.

Johnson, who will play lacrosse at Stanford University, is one of the premier defenders in the region.

“Ellie does a good job of translating what she does in lacrosse on defense to what we need for her to do in field hockey on defense,” Brower said. “Her primary role is communicating and organizing the defense. We have a young defense this year, so she’ll be our primary communicator out there.”

Johnson is beginning her fourth season in the Gators’ field hockey program and third on the varsity level.

“I’m so excited for the season to begin,” Johnson said. “This team means everything to us and we’ve been looking forward to, since last season ended, getting on the field. These are some of our favorite people, everyone works their hardest. To represent them is an amazing opportunity.”

Ellie Johnson, one of Greenwich Academy’s captains, passes the ball during a recent practice at GA.

GA has scrimmages against New Canaan, Mamaroneck and Greenwich High School before hosting the Hill School in their season-opener on Sept. 10. They’ve already played Staples in a scrimmage game as they prepare for the upcoming season.

“We’ve only had one scrimmage, but already, our forwards and middies are moving the ball great and pushing it,” Johnson said. “I’m a defender and I love working with all the defenders as well. We have five new players, so it’s great to be able to help them kind of learn what it means to be part of a varsity team and a high school program.”

Cartellieri, also starting her third varsity season, is a center midfielder, a position entails her to distribute the ball to the forwards and help generate scoring opportunities. Cartellieri will play on the field hockey team at Harvard next fall.

“I’m very honored to represent the team and to show them what it’s like to be part of the varsity team,” Cartellieri said. “I’m extremely excited to show what we’ve got and to bring in the new players and have a great result this season.”

Greenwich Academy captain Laetitia Cartellieri makes a pass during a recent practice.

“Laetitia had a summer filled with high level play,” Brower said. “Her and her sister played in Austria on their national developmental team and got to play other countries – Holland, Germany and England – so they watched great field hockey. You always learn when you’re in that situation.”

Cartellieri is pleased with how the team has performed in all aspects of the sport during the preseason.

“We’ve done a great job,” she said. “Yesterday (Monday) was our first scrimmage against Staples. They’re a very good team, but I thought we had a great first game. We passed the ball well and we really jelled, especially for it being the first game.”

Greenwich Academy should contend for both the FAA and NEPSAC field hockey titles this season.

Tejpaul plays center forward and will be one of the athletes relied upon to help lead the squad in the goal-scoring department. She will take her field hockey skills to Yale next season.

“Offensively, we have a great first step and fastbreak and we see each other on the field well already,” Tejpaul said. and we want to keep developing that. Defensively, we started off strong. Communication has always been a big part of the defensive end.”

“She’s got great speed and I feel like she’s improved every year she’s come back and has become more of a threat,” Brower said of Tejpaul. “Her one-on-one skills, finishing ability and shots have improved.”

Cameron Brower, Jordan Pittignano and Elizabeth Dale were the graduates from last season’s successful squad. The trio served as team captains. Brower continuing her field hockey career at Quinnipiac University.

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich Academy coach Jamie Brower addresses her team during a practice drill.

Returning for GA in goal is senior Ellie Volpe, who turned in a strong junior season.

“She’s looking great,” Brower said of Volpe. “Her footwork and her speed is outstanding, so we’re excited about that.”

Johnson, sophomore Isa Packard, junior Dylan Casazza, freshman Mallory Walker and sophomore Lila Cabot solidify the Gators’ defense.

Johnson appreciates the time she has spent on the team and is eagerly anticipating her senior season.

“I’ve been blessed to be part of the GA program for four years, both on the JV and varsity level,” she said. “GA does a great job of developing players and developing people and is really welcoming to people who have been playing their whole life and people that are new to the sport.”

Greenwich Academy goalie Ellie Volpe makes a save during a recent practice at GA.

Cartellieri, junior Gigi Caldero, Devan Grills and Georgia Schmitz (forward) are among the team’s midfielders.

“Offensively, we’ve been trying to work the corners and create opportunities to score goals,” Cartellieri said.

Tejpaul, sophomore Lavinia Cartellieri, Caroline Busler (junior), Brooke Bertrand (junior), Lindsay Gaynor (sophomore) and Quinn Leahy are forwards.

“We’re a very fast team and we’re very quick with our releases, which is very important, especially at this level,” Tejpaul said. “Everybody on the forward line is capable of scoring.”

“We’re working on getting the ball up and out like we always do,” Tejpaul continued. “If we can nail down the basics then we’ll have a great shot.”

Mallory Walker takes a shot during a drill during a recent Greenwich Academy practice.

Following its season-opener against Hill on Sept. 10, GA hosts Greenwich Country Day School on Sept. 13 and Choate Rosemary Hall on Sept. 21. Greenwich Academy will host Sacred Heart Greenwich on Sept. 30 and Hotchkiss School Oct. 2. Other home games include Kent School (Oct. 8), Rye Country Day School (Oct. 11), Greens Farms Academy (Oct. 13), Loomis Chaffee (Oct. 26) and Westminster (Oct. 29). GA will visit Sacred Heart on Oct. 22.

“We want to play as best as we can, play as a team and play as a passing team,” Johnson said. “We hope to create a good atmosphere, where everyone can contribute and we want all of our wins to be team wins. Hopefully, we’ll have a great, exciting, successful season.”

“I think this is the year we can win New Englands and FAAs,” Cartellieri said. “We want to have a close team like last year and have fun.”

Led by captains Sienna Tejpaul, Laetitia Cartellieri and Ellie Johnson, Greenwich Academy begins its season on Sept. 10.

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