Fall sports

Greenwich High comes back to edge FCIAC field hockey rival Staples on fourth quarter goal by Klara Mueffelmann

Photo by David Fierro: Klara Mueffelmann scored two goals to propel Greenwich past Staples in field hockey action.

Entering today’s game against formidable FCIAC foe Staples, Greenwich High School’s field hockey team had a solid record of 6-2-0-1, with two of those losses coming by just one goal against conference opponents Ridgefield and New Canaan.

So, when the Cardinals hosted the Wreckers this afternoon, they were seeking a statement-making win against one of the top FCIAC teams – the type of victory they’ve been close to reaching this season.

Klara Mueffelmann made sure the Cardinals achieved such a triumph.

Mueffelmann scored two goals, the second of which occurred with 7:28 remaining in the fourth quarter to lift Greenwich to a well-earned 3-2 win over Staples at Cardinal Stadium.

The win upped Greenwich’s record to 7-2-0-1, while Staples’ mark stands at 7-3. The Cardinals have 15 points in the FCIAC West Division standings, which is tops in the division, while Staples has 14.

Photo by David Fierro: The Greenwich High School field hockey team, along with its coaching staff, gathers following a hard-fought 3-2 win over Staples at Cardinal Stadium on October 11, 2022, in Greenwich.

The Cardinals were edged in overtime, 4-3, against Ridgefield on Sept. 17 and were defeated at home by New Canaan, 3-2, last week, so a victory against a high-caliber FCIAC squad was exactly what they were hoping to get out of today’s matchup.

“We’ve talked a lot so far this season about being a full, 60-minute team,” Greenwich coach Megan Wax said. “In the back of our mind is the Ridgefield loss and just really feeling it. It was a difference of a few seconds and how a few seconds can make or break games. One of our goals today was the play a full 60 minutes and not give up on anything – be mentally tough.”

“Coming out on top against high-level teams is always awesome, especially in a game where the first half was primarily defensive, so it’s even sweeter to know that our defense can withstand that and step up and that our offense can perform when we need it to,” Wax continued.

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich forward Klara Mueffelmann takes the ball down the left side of the field during the Cardinals’ game against visiting Staples on Oct. 11, 2022. Mueffelmann scored twice to power the Cards to victory, their seventh of the season.

With the score tied at 2-2, Mueffelmann, who has scored more than 20 goals this season, made the matchup’s pivotal play. Receiving a pass from sophomore forward Kate Donnellan, Mueffelmann found open space on the left sideline and dribbled the ball more than 50 yards toward the Wreckers’ goal. Getting past a Staples defender, Mueffelmann charged toward the cage and knocked a shot from close range past the Wreckers’ goalie, giving Greenwich a 3-2 advantage with 7:28 left to play in the final quarter.

“It was a really tough game,” said Mueffelmann, who will play field hockey at Boston College next season. “At the beginning, we were really struggling but I think that throughout the game we thought about everything we’ve been working on this season, with other hard competitors like Ridgefield and Wilton. We used what we learned in those games in this game and I definitely think it worked out.”

The home team held onto its one-goal lead in the final minutes and held off the Wreckers to earn their seventh win of the season, as junior goalie Kelly Janssen made a pair of key saves for Greenwich, which was paced defensively by senior Maddie Hoekman and freshman Maggie Balaguer.

“It feels amazing,” Janssen said of the win. “Everyone is so exhausted, we played until the last second and that’s what we’ve been working on, playing from the start until the finish. We just wanted to have a game-winning mentality throughout the whole thing, which was really helpful.”

Greenwich reacts after its win against visiting Staples on Oct. 11, 2022.

Staples took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Francine Stevens with 10:25 left in the first period. Greenwich came right back though, tying the score on a tally by Mueffelmann at the 9:11 mark of the opening quarter.

The Cards have become accustomed to seeing the difficult-to-defend Mueffelmann score and also set up her teammates.

“Klara is obviously an outstanding player but I always say to her that her two most hidden best traits are that she is a fantastic teammate and that she never has any doubt on the field,” Wax said. “She makes everyone believe. And No. 2, she is competitive. She doesn’t want to lose a 50/50 ball, she doesn’t want to lose a game – she is a competitive person. She brings everyone up.”

In the third quarter, the Wreckers seized a 2-1 advantage by scoring on a rebound off a penalty corner at the 13:09 mark. Donnellan made it a 2-2 game by utilizing her speed and energy to tally the equalizer. Working hard to get her way down the field with the ball, Donnellan converted a shot close to the cage, for the tying goal.

Greenwich’s Kate Donnellan moves the ball down the sideline against Staples at Cardinal Stadium.

“Klara sent me a pass at the 40-yard on our defending and I dribbled it all the way up and put it on the right bottom corner,” Donnellan said of her goal. “It was a really good win for our team. We all have been working hard. At the beginning, we held our own and played more of a defensive game and towards the end once we got more confidence, we started to take it up more and played more offensive.”

Donnellan has also emerged as one of the Cards’ playmakers in her first varsity season.

“She is aggressive, she has that competitive mindset,” Wax said of Donnellan. “On the offensive end, Klara and Kate – they refuse to be denied near the goal.”

Greenwich edged Staples, 3-2, in FCIAC field hockey action.

The second half saw Greenwich generate more chances offensively, with Mueffelmann, Donnellan and sophomore Stella Thibeault helping to lead the way up front.

“The first half we were definitely struggling, then we picked up our game, thought of everything we’ve been working on and I think we executed that on the field,” Mueffelmann said.

Greenwich visits Stamford on Friday, then hosts Hall Saturday morning, before traveling to Fairfield Ludlowe on Oct. 18 and hosting Darien on Oct. 19.

“Every day we’re working to get better,” Wax said. “There’s endless amounts of areas of improvements always. We have a long way to go, we have five more games in a week-and-a-half, we’re going a lot. This is where we talk about being mentally tough. You also elevate everyone around you.”

Klara Mueffelmann, left, battles for the ball against Staples.

Said Janssen: “We’ve been setting goals and working really hard in practice and we were able to put that to use in the game today and it shows that we can do that against a top team – we are a top team. We showed that today, which will help us keep up the momentum.”

Kate Donnellan scored a clutch goal for Greenwich against Staples at Cardinal Stadium.
Kelly Janssen made key saves for Greenwich in its victory against Staples.

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