Fall sports

Greenwich Academy soccer team edged by St. Luke’s in a late-season FAA match; Gators pay tribute to its eight senior athletes on their Senior Day

Greenwich Academy’s eight seniors gather during the soccer team’s Senior Day ceremony on Oct. 28, 2022.

In a rematch of last season’s FAA Tournament soccer final, Greenwich Academy and St. Luke’s School faced each other with first place in the league on the line on Friday as is usually the case when the rivals meet, this game featured intense, back-and-forth action.

Both teams had their moments in this late-season FAA duel, but the Storm produced the best moment in the matchup’s final seconds.

Sophomore Camdyn Nelson’s goal with less than 10 seconds remaining in the second half lifted St. Luke’s to a dramatic 1-0 win over host Greenwich Academy.

With the victory, St. Luke’s record stands at 8-1 in the FAA and is in first place in the league. Greenwich Academy has an FAA record of 7-2-1 and is in third place, while Greens Farms Academy sports a league mark of 6-1-2 and is in second place in the 11-team league. The first place team earns the No. 1 seed in the eight-team FAA Tournament, which is scheduled to begin on Nov. 8.

The game was scoreless after 79 minutes of physical, exciting action and the winning goal came a set piece. Lena Olbrys sent her corner kick from the right side to the far post and sophomore forward Camdyn Nelson rose up for a header and directed the ball inside the right post, giving St. Luke’s a 1-0 lead in what proved to be the game’s final play.

Greenwich Academy’s seniors gather during the team’s special Senior Day ceremony after their soccer game vs. St. Luke’s.

“It was very late in the game, we knew it was late, we were fortunate enough to get a corner,” St. Luke’s coach Dan Clarke said. “There was a great ball in by Lina and a great header by Camdyn.”

In November of 2021, St. Luke’s scored a 2-0 win over Greenwich Academy in the championship game of the FAA Tournament.

“I thought we were creating the better chances, but they’re always a tough, tough team to play against,” Clarke said. “They have a lot of good players and their goalkeeper is extremely strong, so we knew it was going to take a really good effort from us to win this game.”

Sophomore goalie Este Tejpaul made numerous saves for GA, which played its last regular season game. The Gators will spend the upcoming week practicing and getting healthy from the bumps and bruises that comes with a long season, as they prepare for the FAA Tournament.

Greenwich Academy’s Sofia Salazar, right, looks to control the ball during a game against St. Luke’s.

“I thought they tried exceptionally hard, they gave everything they possibly could on the field,” GA coach Alistair Lonsdale said of his squad. “It was just a tough, physical, battle. Considering we have six players injured and we have four freshman on the field playing, we’re having a good season.”

Nelson’s goal for the Storm came after her team had several scoring chances off free kicks and a pair of shots that Este stopped.

“She scored off great header,” Lonsdale said of St. Luke’s Nelson. “That’s the quality you need in front of goal. Our team tried their hardest. The game was end-to-end, it went back and forth.”

Junior Lola Tirabassi registered two shots on goal in the second half, while freshman Sofia Salazar, senior Winnie Welch and senior Robyn O’Connor tried to put pressure on the Storm. Sisters Camdyn and Mackenzie Nelson, who are Greenwich residents, helped pace St. Luke’s along with Olbrys.

Greenwich Academy’s Lola Tirabassi moves the ball up the field against St. Luke’s in FAA soccer action.

Defensively, senior Kit Harned helped lead the way for GA.

“During the upcoming week, we can get back to basics and hopefully, get a couple of players back from injury for when we get to the playoffs,” Lonsdale said.

While Greenwich Academy has completed its FAA regular season games, St. Luke’s still has one remaining – a matchup against Sacred Heart Greenwich. The Storm needs to defeat the Tigers to win the FAA regular season title and earn the No. 1 seed in the FAA Tournament.

“The most pleasing thing is how we battled until the very last second of the game,” Clarke said. “We knew coming here if Greenwich Academy won the game, they won the regular season. It was a matter of matching them physically, winning our individual battles and still trying to play the kind of soccer we try to play. They (GA) work extremely hard and put you under a ton of pressure the whole time.”

“We are going to Sacred Heart next Friday and we know how difficult that will be,” Clarke continued. “We are not looking too far ahead, it’s always difficult going to Sacred Heart, just like it is coming here.”

Greenwich Academy’s Winnie Welch, left, battles for the ball with St. Luke’s Natalie Owsley.

Following the game, GA held a Senior Day ceremony, honoring their eight seniors. Greenwich Academy’s seniors include: Ellie Burdick, Kate Haffenreffer, Kit Harned, Robyn O’Connor, Sonya Schloss, Lianna Seeley, Alden Smith and Winnie Welch. Burdick and Harned are the Gators’ captains.

Greenwich Academy’s week also included a 2-0 loss at home to formidable Loomis Chaffee School in a well-played game.

“We came in knowing they were a really good team and we didn’t shy away from the challenge and it was a good result,” O’Connor said following the Loomis Chaffee game. “We played well, there is good energy now and I feel this was a great momentum-builder.”

Robyn O’Connor is a senior midfielder on the Greenwich Academy soccer team.

Welch knows the team has the right attitude and frame of mind to compete in the postseason and make another strong run toward winning the FAA title.

“Positive energy is going to make us have a good mindset and with a good mindset we play better,” Welch noted. “I thought we did really well against a strong Loomis team. We did a lot of great passing and had good communication. Our defense was very strong and I think we played up to their level.”

Winnie Welch is a senior forward/midfielder on the Greenwich Academy soccer team.

Said Harned: “I think we have gotten super close throughout the season. We’ve figured out how each other plays, which has helped us a lot. We are working super hard on the field and playing super hard for each other. I’m super excited about the playoffs. I’ve gotten to the finals last year and lost in the finals my freshman year too. We’re definitely looking to walk away with the win this year and we’re really excited and ready to work hard.”

Kit Harned is a senior defender on GA’s soccer team. She’s sparked the team’s defensive effort.

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