Fall sports

Greenwich girls soccer team defeated by Staples in FCIAC semifinals; Cardinals to host Shelton in Class LL Tournament

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich High School girls soccer coach Simon Rumbold addresses the team prior to its game against Staples in the FCIAC Tournament semifinals at Fairfield Warde this past Tuesday.

Greenwich High School’s girls soccer team has accomplished plenty this so far this season and now it is looking to make its mark in the upcoming CIAC Class LL Tournament.

The Cardinals posted a successful regular season, finishing with a record of 7-4-4, while earning a berth in the FCIAC Tournament, one of the season-long goals they set out for themselves. In the FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals, the Cardinals, seeded seventh, eliminated second-seeded Ridgefield, 1-0, in a game that went to penalty kicks – Greenwich won the penalty kick shootout, 6-4.

Greenwich, which was victorious in an FCIAC Tournament game for the first time in more than five seasons, advanced to play Staples this past Tuesday’s conference semifinals at Fairfield Warde High School and they put forth a stellar effort in the matchup.

Third-seeded Staples advanced to the FCIAC Tournament’s title game with a 3-1 victory against Greenwich. The Wreckers were then defeated by top-seeded St. Joseph, 3-1, Thursday’s FCIAC final at Wilton.

Photo by David Fierro: Ali Pennella scored a goal for Greenwich in the FCIAC semifinals against Staples.

By producing a successful regular season, Greenwich earned a berth into the CIAC Class LL Tournament, which commences on Tuesday. The Cardinals will host a state tournament game for the first time in quite some time. Seeded 14th, Greenwich hosts No. 19 Shelton in the opening round of the Class LL Tournament on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

In the semifinal matchup between Staples and Greenwich, both squads created chances the game’s first 26 minutes, with the Wreckers’ Natalie Chudowsky, Annabel Edwards and Sami DeWitt registering shots and the Cardinals’ Julia Acosta and Taylor Carrescia having opportunities.

Staples took a 1-0 advantage, scoring on a set piece. Edwards served her corner kick into the box and DeWitt, a senior, finished, giving the Wreckers a one-goal lead with 13:12 to go in the opening half.

“Annabel took the corner and I was able to hit it in,” DeWitt said of her first goal. “It was just a beautiful ball by Annabel and I was able to get on the end of it.”

The Wreckers took that 1-0 lead into the second half, as Greenwich senior goalie Isabella Gega made several first-half saves. At the 36:57 mark of the second half, DeWitt tallied again off a corner kick, putting a shot inside the far post for a 2-0 lead for the Wreckers, who received strong play from senior Cami Kolek in goal.

Greenwich’s girls soccer team lines up for the National Anthem prior to its FCIAC semifinal vs. Staples.

Edwards’ goal with 26:43 remaining in the second half off a shot from more than 20 yards out put Greenwich in a 3-0 hole.

“We always know how important it is to shut teams down and try to score an early goal,” Edwards said. “Luckily, we were able to get that early goal from Sami, which really set us up for success. When I scored, we were already 2-0, up, I felt confident enough to take the shot and it went in.”

“The Cardinals’ goal came from senior midfielder Ali Pennella, whose shot bounded off a Wreckers defender and found its way inside the left post in the 73rd minute.

“We did a good job in the first half of matching their energy,” Pennella said. “They created three great chances. There’s stuff we could have done, but credit to a great team, they played really well and I’m proud of how far we came.”

Greenwich’s Ali Pennella looks to get position on Staples’ Courtlyn Crombie during the FCIAC semifinals.

Indeed, GHS made a fine showing in the FCIAC Tournament and the experience benefited the young team.

“My three years on the team this is the furthest we’ve come,” Pennella said. “It was a different atmosphere and really fun – there was a big crowd too. This was an eye-opening experience and we have more games to play. The season is not over.”

Acosta, Carrescia, Pennella and junior Emma Abbazia helped pace Greenwich’s offensive effort against Staples, while senior Sammy Kraven helped solidify the team’s defensive performance.

Greenwich’s Sammy Craven gets ready for a throw-in against Staples.

“The girls played their hearts out,” Greenwich coach Simon Rumbold said. “Staples is the state champion for a reason and they have been the strongest program in the state the last four or five years. I think that quality showed through tonight. The first two goals were off set pieces. I don’t think it was a case where we did anything wrong, they just out jumped us and that’s something we need to work on in the future.”

Rumbold continued: “Today we created a decent amount of chances we more than matched them. The ball didn’t bounce for us today. I’m so proud of them. They have been amazing, especially during the second half of the season. We had a point where we got together and talked about what we needed to do off the ball. Since then, it’s been 10 games and they have been fantastic. The girls have been great, there are lessons to learn here that they can bring into the state tournament. We had freshmen out there, we had multiple sophomores, so the future is bright.”

Greenwich’s Emma Abbazia in action against Staples in the FCIAC semifinals.

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