The lacrosse game that Sacred Heart Greenwich and Greenwich Academy look forward to most all season occurred Wednesday at Sacred Heart and as always, the intensity was sky high, the action was non-stop and the atmosphere was electric.
Sacred Heart earned bragging rights when the teams renewed their longstanding neighborhood rivalry Wednesday and it did so, courtesy of a balanced scoring effort and an overall outstanding defensive effort.
Those aspects added up to a 12-7 win for the Tigers over visiting Greenwich Academy in a lacrosse showdown, featuring a pair of nationally-ranked high school squads.
Sophomore midfielder Charley Bacigalupo was a playmaker throughout the matchup, recording a hat trick with two assists to help pace the Tigers. Junior attack Wowie Walker scored three goals, while senior attack Kelly Haggerty tallied twice for Sacred Heart, which played from in front throughout and entered halftime with a 7-1 lead.
“The key to the first half was coming out strong, playing together and pushing those fastbreaks,” Haggerty said. “I think we did and it ended up giving us a 7-1 lead going into the half. For us, it was a matter of getting that lead and keeping it.”
The Tigers and Gators dueled to a 7-7 overtime draw in 2022 and both squads are in the midst of having outstanding seasons this spring. Sacred Heart has earned a record of 10-1, while GA is 5-2.
“Sophomore year we lost twice to GA and last year was a tie, so it is amazing to do it my senior year,” Haggerty said of Sacred Heart’s win over its biggest rival. “We had so many different contributors and I’m proud of everyone.”
Junior midfielder Payton Sfreddo registered one goal and one assist, while senior attack Karina Sethi had one goal and one assist for SHG, which extended its winning streak to five games. The Tigers’ lone loss of the season was a 9-8 defeat to Darien in the game’s final seconds.
“Our defensive effort was great throughout the game,” Sacred Heart co-head coach Sharon Robinson said. “We caused some turnovers and Laura O’Connor played great in goal. In the first half, on offense, we were able to score in transition, which was key for us.”
Greenwich Academy received a hat trick from senior attack Mimi Novak and two goals apiece from senior midfielder Ellie Burdick and sophomore attack Katie Barr. GA’s best moments came in the second half, as it closed to with three goals twice, after facing a six-goal halftime deficit.
“Sacred Heart was the better team today, kudos to them,” GA co-head coach Katie Johnson said. “They are a complete team, they have good players at every position. They’re well coached, they came out really strong and we came out really flat.”
GA’s coaches liked the spark they saw from their squad in the second half.
“We are really proud of the girls,” Johnson noted. “We made some adjustments at halftime on how we were going to get looks on the offensive end and the girls executed well. We tried a few different seams that we hadn’t attacked in the first half and we got a couple of great connections from behind the crease, which was nice.”
Said Greenwich Academy co-head coach Halley Quillinan Griggs: “We’ve been a team that has attacked the zone really well all season, but we had a little trouble with it in the first half. We settled in on offense in the second half, after making some changes.”
Sfreddo scored the game’s first goal off a well-executed spin move 1:52 into the opening half. Sethi used her elusiveness to dodge away from a defender and score, giving the host Tigers a 2-0 edge at the 22:16 mark of the first half.
Catching a pass from senior attack Mackenzie Coleman, Bacigalupo tallied off a shot from close range, putting Sacred Heart ahead, 3-0 with 18:31 to go in the opening half. Following a long possession in which GA’s worked hard defensively, Haggerty converted in shot from close in, extending her team’s advantage to 4-0.
Walker then scored two straight goals, the first coming off a pass from Charley Bacigalupo with 14:07 left in the opening half. Bacigalupo’s second tally came off a dodge, after the Tigers prevented Greenwich Academy from scoring, following a timely possession. O’Connor halted the Gators’ scoring opportunity with a save.
“It was a team effort, Mackenzie was feeding to me down low, everyone was cutting through, our defense was playing great, so we could get it on attack and it was a really a team effort,” Charley Bacigalupo said of the Tigers’ performance.
Greenwich Academy’s first goal of the matchup came at the 7:10 mark of the first half. Sacred Heart took a 7-1 lead into halftime after Haggerty scored in transition, with junior midfielder Kaitlin Robinson and Sethi initiating the play with superb passes.
“Playing against Greenwich Academy is always so much fun,” Kaitlin Robinson noted. “We were very prepared for this game, which is always our most fun game of the year. Our team has been jelling so well throughout the season.”
O’Connor was, once again, tough to get the ball past. She made several nifty saves off 8-meter shots.
“I’ve got the best defense every in front of me, making sure they are pushing the attackers and to get me low angle shots and making it so I have the best chance possible,” O’Connor said. “They played great and I owe a lot to them.”
Said Katie Johnson: “Laura O’Connor is probably the best goalie we played against all season. She reads the ball well off the stick she anticipates well and clears well. She made some big saves in the first half.”
GA made its move toward getting back into the game in the second half. Burdick scored 1:07 into the second half and after Charley Bacigalupo scored off a pass from Daphne Fallon, Novak scored twice and Burdick added another tally, cutting Sacred Heart’s lead to 8-5 with 16:25 remaining in the second half.
Senior Ellie Johnson and Burdick each came up with a pair of draw controls, helping the Gators come within striking distance of the Tigers.
“We were proud of our team’s fight and we worked hard to dig ourselves out of a hole in the second half,” Quillinan Griggs said. “But it was too big hole to dig out of.”
Key goals from Charley Bacigalupo, Haggerty and Kaitlin Robinson ignited the Tigers late in the second half, as they stretched their lead to 12-7 for the game’s final score.
“It was an amazing atmosphere,” Charley Bacigalupo said. “The energy was crazy, all the fans were out there cheering it was a really fun game.”
Sacred Heart played sound defensively throughout.
“It’s a team effort, we worked well as a team and the communication was there,” SHG senior defender/co-captain Corbin Callaway said. “Laura O’Connor, our goalie, was great on the saves and we were working as a team and stopping everything we could.”
Like her teammates, Callaway waited a while to defeat GA.
“This is my first win in four years at Sacred Heart, because of COVID (the teams didn’t play in 2020) and the second year we didn’t win against them,” Callaway noted. “This is my final time playing GA and I knew we could do it. It all came down to the little things.”
Greenwich Academy senior goalie Rebecca Arpano made four saves, while Johnson and Burdick had several draw controls.
O’Connor registered eight saves in the winning effort.
“I think everyone came together, we trust each other and I think that played a huge role,” O’Connor said. “It’s an old rivalry, they are a great team and it’s always great to come out on top against a great team like that. This game means a lot to us.”
Categories: Greenwich Academy, Sacred Heart Greenwich, Spring sports
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