Fall sports

Greenwich High girls soccer team tops second-seeded Ridgefield in a penalty shootout, advances to FCIAC semifinals

Contributed photo: Members of the Greenwich High School girls soccer team gather after they defeated Ridgefield in the quarterfinal-round of the FCIAC Tournament held at Ridgefield on Oct. 28, 2022.

Receiving contributions from everyone that played, Greenwich High School’s girls soccer team earned its most significant win in recent seasons, defeating second-seeded Ridgefield, 1-0, on penalty kicks in the quarterfinal-round of the FCIAC Tournament today at Ridgefield.

With the win, seventh-seeded Greenwich, which hasn’t lost in the month of October, advanced to the FCIAC Tournament semifinals, where it will face third-seeded Staples at Fairfield Warde High School on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

After regulation ended in a scoreless tie, the Cardinals and Tigers played overtime today, yet the score remained 0-0. Then the exciting was decided on a penalty shootout and Greenwich held a 6-4 advantage for the win and a trip to the FCIAC semifinals.

“It is definitely a huge win for our team,” Greenwich coach Simon Rumbold said. “We’ve been steadily improving over the years. This is the sixth year in a row we’ve improved our record. It’ a good achievement for the girls and it’s nice to do it against such a strong team. We were only one of two teams to beat them in regulation.”

Greenwich’s Ali Pennella made a key penalty kick during a penalty kick shootout against Ridgefield.

The Cardinals entered today’s FCIAC quarterfinals against Ridgefield with a 1-0 win against the Tigers on Oct. 7 to their ledger. The Tigers went into today’s game with a record of 11-2-2.

Getting off to a strong start helped the Cardinals set the tone.

“We started really well, probably the strongest we played all season,” Rumbold said. “The girls were calm and composed on the ball. We were on the loose balls and we played good soccer.”

Rumbold noted that junior Julia Acosta had the Cardinals’ best scoring opportunity in the first half that concluded 0-0. In the second half, Ridgefield upped its game.

Adriana Jones made her penalty kick attempt for Greenwich against Ridgefield in the FCIAC quarterfinals.

“They came out stronger in the second half but as the half went on, we took more control,” Rumbold said. “Their threats were off free kicks and corners.”

“Their level of performance was higher in the second half,” Rumbold continued. “We did well to kind of handle that the first 10 minutes of the second half. The girls’ attitude and work rate was phenomenal all night. We created some decent chances. They conceded only four goals the whole season, so it was a challenge to score on them.”

After 80 minutes of intense regulation action and a back-and-forth overtime session the game went to a penalty shootout to decide which squad would advance to the conference tournament semifinals.

Greenwich goalie Isabella made key saves during a penalty shootout situation vs. Ridgefield in the FCIAC quarterfinals.

Greenwich senior goalie/tri-captain Isabella Gega made several key saves during the penalty shootout to give the Cards a lift.

“When it went to penalties historically, she (Gega) is a good penalty saver,” Rumbold said. “It was about the girls stepping up on their penalty kicks.”

It took 10 penalty kicks to decide the shootout and the game, as the Tigers and Cardinals each made three of their first five kicks – five kicks usually decides the outcome.

Senior tri-captain Ali Pennella, junior Emma Abbazia and junior Meghan Ross each made their penalty kicks during Greenwich’s first five attempts. After Ridgefield also made three of their five kicks in the penalty shootout, freshman Julia Gustafsson, junior Adriana Jones and sophomore Skylar Aysseh each scored on their penalty kicks for the Cardinals, who held a 6-5 advantage in the penalty shootout to win the game, 2-1.

Emma Abbazia converted her penalty kick attempt to help Greenwich defeat Ridgefield in the FCIAC quarterfinals.

“As soon as the game ended, they sprinted out to Gega,” Rumbold said of his team. “I am so delighted for this group.”

Rumbold credited senior Sammy Craven for switching from forward to defense in order to fill in for senior defender Caroline Lawrence and sophomore defender Ellery Harte, both of whom are injured. Lawrence is on crutches after injuring her leg during a game recently. Harte is currently in concussion protocol.

“Sammy did a great job, she did it fantastically well,” Rumbold said. “Her, Meghan Ross and Adriana Jones led the defense.”

Greenwich is 5-0-3 in October and will look to advance to their first FCIAC final since the 2011 season, when they topped Fairfield Warde for the conference championship. In 2012, Greenwich shared the FCIAC title with St. Joseph, since the FCIAC Tournament was not held, due to Hurricane Sandy.

Greenwich and St. Joseph are the only two squads to defeat Ridgefield this season.

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