Fall sports

Lola Tirabassi’s first-half goal sparks Greenwich Academy soccer team past visiting School of the Holy Child

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich Academy midfielder Ellie Burdick, left, battles for the ball during the team’s game against School of the Holy Child on Sept. 19, 2022, in an FAA game.

With inclement weather making the playing conditions increasingly difficult during the second half of today’s game between FAA soccer foes Greenwich Academy and School of the Holy Child, one goal was enough to decide the outcome of this physical matchup.

And Lola Tirabassi, who has already made a habit of producing clutch plays for the Gators, stepped up and registered the game’s lone goal.

Tirabassi, a junior midfielder, scored in the 13th minute, giving host Greenwich Academy a well-earned 1-0 win over Holy Child – a triumph that extended GA’s winning streak to four games.

On the game-winning goal, senior midfielder/co-captain Ellie Burdick moved the ball to Tirabassi, who found herself open in the box. She quickly gathered herself and booted a shot past Gryphons goalie Anna Klein into the right corner of the goal, giving GA a 1-0 lead with 26:29 remaining in the first half.

Midfielder Lola Tirabassi scored a goal for Greenwich Academy in its 1-0 victory over visiting Holy Child.

“Ellie played it back to me and I was able to get through and put it into the right corner,” Tirabassi said of her game-winner. “The conditions were really hard, but we did a really good job of staying composed and playing as a team and staying calm.”

Indeed, midway through the second half, it began raining pretty heavily and the wind picked up as well, making it extra challenging for the athletes.

Greenwich Academy sophomore goalie Este Tejpaul recorded four saves in the first half, three of which came off Holy Child free kicks. In the second half, she made four more key saves to earn the shutout win.

Greenwich Academy edged Holy Child in FAA soccer action.

Tejpaul credited the team’s backline defenders, led by senior co-captain Kit Harned and junior Molly Moore, for helping secure the shutout victory.

“The defensive part of the whole game was really good, because in the first half I didn’t have to make any non-textbook saves,” said Tejpaul , who made a save off a Holy Child corner kick with just over four minutes remaining in the second half. “The defense was making sure the ball wasn’t coming too far. In the second half, without them it would have been a different game with the conditions.”

The Gators had possession the majority of the first half, with Tirabassi, Burdick, senior Winnie Welch, freshman Maddie Whidden and senior Robyn O’Connor helping lead the way. Just past the midway point of the second half, the Gryphons began creating more chances in an attempt to tally the equalizer.

Greenwich Academy midfielder Maggie Whidden advances the ball up the field during a matchup vs. Holy Child.

“It’s difficult to concentrate in some of the games when we have 90 percent possession, but just staying focused all the way to the end is very important,” Tejpaul noted. “Without them (the defenders) I definitely wouldn’t be able to make the saves.”

After playing Greenwich Country Day School to a 1-1 tie to start the 2022 season, Greenwich Academy has won four straight games, defeating FAA opponents Masters, King, Rye Country Day and today’s foe, Holy Child, to improve its record to 4-0-1.

“We worked really hard today, but they did a really good job of the way they set up today,” GA coach Alistair Lonsdale said. “They set up to frustrate us I think and they did a very good very, very good job of that.”

“They played quite well, the kids are working hard and working on their movement,” Lonsdale continued. “We’ve had a fairly good start, while having injuries along the way. The other day on Saturday, we beat Rye Country Day and we played really well.”

Greenwich Academy coach Alistair Lonsdale talks to the team during halftime of its home matchup against Holy Child.

As has been the case in each of their games, the Gators received contributions from everyone on the field.

“We were playing very technical and very well as a unit and getting it through each third and then finally releasing it to the final third,” Burdick said. “We started to lose that in the second half, but that was a learning moment for us to keep our composure all throughout the games in the future.”

Up next for GA are games against two formidable boarding schools – Choate Rosemary Hall on Wednesday and Miss Porter’s School on Saturday.

“They gave us a good test, we could have played a little better, but that’s on us to work a little harder and pick it up from there and go after Choate on Wednesday,” Burdick said. “It would be nice to play some boarding schools, which raise the intensity a little bit in order to play for some harder FAA games in the future.”

Greenwich Academy’s soccer team has posted four consecutive wins, allowing just three goals along the way.

Said Tejpaul: “We’re playing really well, the new freshmen are making an impact. Ellie and Kit are definitely super important to our team. Especially with Kit in the back and Ellie in the midfield it makes a super big difference.”

Greenwich Academy’s coaches watch the team play Holy Child on Sept. 19, 2022.
Greenwich Academy will play again on Wednesday at Choate Rosemary Hall.

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