Fall sports

Greenwich Academy soccer team hoping to return to FAA Tournament finals

Photo by David Fierro: Kit Harned, left and Ellie Burdick are senior captains of the Greenwich Academy soccer team.

When Greenwich Academy played St. Luke’s School in the championship game of the FAA Tournament last November, the matchup marked the continuation of an impressive postseason tradition GA has enjoyed.

Greenwich Academy has appeared in six of the last seven FAA Tournament title games, winning the championship on three occasions. Once again possessing a deep, talented squad, GA embraces its usual challenging schedule and is aiming for another deep postseason run.

“I’m really excited for the season,” Greenwich Academy senior midfielder/co-captain Ellie Burdick said. “It’s a fun experience to play with new people and I’m super excited for the season. We have a lot of work to get done, but it looks like we’re going to have a great season.”

Burdick and senior centerback /co-captain Kit Harned are filling the roles that 2022 GA graduates Taylor Glanville and Lauren Harteveldt effectively fulfilled last fall.

Photo by David Fierro: Ellie Burdick, left and Kit Harned, are captains of the Greenwich Academy soccer team.

“It’s awesome, I’m really excited to be a captain with Ellie,” said Harned, who like Burdick has played on the school’s varsity soccer team for several seasons. “Our team has been close all four years of high school, so it’s been really nice to be able to lead such a close team and watch everyone work hard.”

The Gators, who open their season on Sept. 10 with a road game against FAA foe Greenwich Country Day School, are coached by Alistair Lonsdale, who has headed the program since 2008. Kate Sands, a Greenwich Academy graduate, returns as a varsity assistant coach. She joined the varsity coaching staff in 2018.

Greenwich Academy has been a consistent force in the FAA during Lonsdale’s tenure, winning three FAA Tournament titles the past seven seasons (2016, 2017, 2018) and appearing in six finals (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021). GA was defeated by St. Luke’s in the FAA final a season ago, 2-0.

Photo by David Fierro: Kate Sands and Alistair Lonsdale watch the action during Greenwich Academy’s game against host St. Luke’s School in the championship game of the FAA Soccer Tournament in November of 2021. They return as GA’s coaches.

“I enjoy being a part of this school and I enjoy being in the community working in the town with the youth,” said Lonsdale, who is beginning his 15th season at the helm. “I’m trying to develop things and win a new England championship here. I’ve tried to improve myself as a coach over the last 15 years and the school has been supportive with that. Every year, I want us to become the best versions of ourselves.”

In preparation for their season, the Gators scrimmaged Greenwich High School on Monday, Staples Wednesday and New Canaan today. They have another scrimmage on Sept. 7 against Darien, before visiting Greenwich Country Day School in their season-opener on Sept. 10.

“We’re a steady, hard-working team,” Lonsdale said. “It’s going to be a well-organized team that works hard for each other and is in good shape.”

Burdick, who will play lacrosse at Dartmouth, returns as a center midfielder, a position she is quite accustomed to playing.

“We have a new center mid unit, so I’m working through that,” Burdick said. “We have a solid defense that is back us up and then we’re working through the forwards to get us some goals this season.”

Robyn O’Connor, right, is one of the numerous returning players on the Greenwich Academy soccer team.

“Ellie is a great listener, works really hard is a pure athlete,” Lonsdale said. “She leads by example and leads her teammates in an exceptional manner.”

A centerback, Harned will be looked upon to help lead the team defensively.

“I think the defense will be pretty similar to last year,” said Harned, who has played on the varsity squad since her freshman year. “But there will also be some new players trying out that might start playing on the sides. I thought our defense looked really solid in our scrimmage against Greenwich. Our defense is strong.”

Said Lonsdale: “Kit is such a great kid, who works really hard. She has played on varsity every year and works hard on the field. Not ever does she not give you 150 percent. Our captains have worked really hard in the preseason.”

Returning as a goalie is sophomore Este Tejpaul. Last season saw Tejpaul shine as a freshman in goal, making a wealth of key saves in each game. Also back in goal is senior Sonya Schloss, an experienced goaltender, who like Tejpaul has impressed Lonsdale with a strong preseason.

Photo by David Fierro: The Greenwich Academy soccer team opens its season on September 10th at home.

Harned, junior Molly Moore, senior Kate Haffenreffer and sophomore Sarah Haber are among some of the Gators’ defenders. Burdick, sophomore Gianna DeBono and senior Winnie Welch should help lead the team in the midfield.

“We have a whole group of new players in there who are learning and trying to understand the system,” Lonsdale said. “We’ll be a solid, hard-working type of team.”

Up front, junior Maya Tillman will be looked upon to spark the squad offensively. The Gators’ varsity roster also includes freshman Chloe Huh, freshman Madison Hurns, freshman Juliana Kreuzer, sophomore Claire Maruszewski, senior Robyn O’Connor, Sofia Salazar (freshman), Liana Seeley (senior), Alden Smith (senior), Lola Tirabassi (junior), Maggie Whidden (senior) and Mia Wilson (sophomore).

Along with Harteveldt and Glanville, Ali Jaquiery and Sophie Burraway were graduated from last year’s winning team.

Greenwich Academy should be one of the top teams in the FAA this season.

Schedule: GA plays home games against Masters School (Sept. 13), Rye Country Day School (Sept. 17), Holy Child (Sept. 19), Hamden Hall (Sept. 27), Hotchkiss School (Oct. 8), Hopkins School (Oct. 12), Kent School (Oct. 22), Loomis Chaffee (Oct. 26) and St. Luke’s (Oct. 28). The Gators will travel to face rival Sacred Heart Greenwich on Sept. 29.

“The attitude in the preseason has been great, we just have to keep putting in the work and keep our heads up after some tough losses and keep going,” Burdick said. “A lot of the boarding schools will provide some tough competition. Sacred Heart will be a big game as it always is, we’re rivals. But we’re going in with confidence in all of our games.”

“I’m super grateful to be a captain and I’m thankful for my teammates for electing me,” Burdick continued. “I’m ready to lead alongside Kit and our coaches to reach our goals.”

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work, 100 percent effort, communication and everyone constantly working hard for us to reach our goals,” Harned said.

Ellie Burdick, left and Kit Harned are looking forward to their role as captains of Greenwich Academy’s soccer team.

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