Greenwich High

Flourishing on both sides of the field, Greenwich High’s girls lacrosse team tops FCIAC rival Ridgefield at Cardinal Stadium

Photo by David Fierro: Members of the Greenwich High School girls lacrosse team celebrate a victory against Ridgefield on May 4, 2023, at Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals used strong efforts on both ends of the field to post the win.

Most teams have one particular opponent that it has experienced close losses against – a team that it’s been defeated by in heartbreaking fashion during the playoffs over the years.

For Greenwich High School’s girls lacrosse team, Ridgefield has been that opponent in recent seasons.

The Tigers edged the Cardinals by one goal in the FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals in 2022, scoring the game-winner with 38 seconds remaining. In 2021, Ridgefield pulled out a one-goal win in overtime at Cardinal Stadium during the regular season and a year ago, the Tigers had a regular-season victory against the Cardinals, besides beating them in the postseason.

So, when Greenwich earned a decisive 11-4 triumph against visiting Ridgefield under the lights at Cardinal Stadium on Thursday night, extra significance was attached to the win for the Cardinals.

Greenwich’s Emma Abbazia, right, takes the ball down the field during a game against Ridgefield on May 4, 2023, at Cardinal Stadium in Greenwich. The Cardinals were victorious by a score of 11-4.

“We’ve wanted to beat this team so badly, they’ve been our rival for a long time,” said Greenwich senior quad-captain MK Savio, who helped spark the Cardinals’ outstanding defensive effort. “The last couple of years, we’ve been in that underdog mentality and we came out here and we wanted it. Since our first game until now, we have grown exponentially and I think the offense is coming together, the defense is pulling some new strings.”

Junior midfielder Emma Abbazia turned in another sensational performance for Greenwich, recording a game-high five goals, while adding an assist. Senior attack Cece Tauber continued her standout season, posting a hat trick and sophomore attack Aubrey Roth scored two goals to also ignite the Cardinals against the rival Tigers.

With the victory before their home crowd, the Cardinals improved their record to 7-2 overall and 5-2 in the FCIAC. Ridgefield has a 9-3 overall mark and is 3-3 in FCIAC play. The Tigers eliminated the Cards from the FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals a season ago with a 12-11 win in the game’s final seconds. They were victorious against the Cardinals, 12-7 during the 2022 regular season and edged GHS, 12-11, in overtime in 2021.

Thursday’s matchup marked Greenwich’s first win over Ridgefield since it notched a 20-10 triumph during the 2018 season. During the Class L Tournament in 2018, Ridgefield went on to edge Greenwich, 7-6, in the quarterfinals.

Leighton Collier of Greenwich, right, carries the ball down the sideline, while being pursued during a game vs. Ridgefield.

Greenwich entered halftime with a 7-4 lead on Ridgefield on Thursday, then proceeded to shut out the Tigers in the second half.

“That was the best win we’ve had,” Greenwich coach Tara Clough said. “Ridgefield is so athletic and strong. We executed on all cylinders. These kids left everything on the field. Their composure was great, they made really smart decisions. They worked so hard on those 50/50 possessions and played with so much heart and hustle – I’m so proud of them.”

Cardinals senior goalie Daryl Furno once again, rose to the occasion, making 10 saves. Several of Furno’s saves came off free position shots.

“She made a difference, I’m really proud of our defensive effort,” Cough said. They played big today.”

The victory was the third straight for the Cards, since they lost consecutive games to Wilton and New Canaan.

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich junior Mary Kate Frey (No. 22) looks to pass the ball during a lacrosse matchup vs. Ridgefield at Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals posted an 11-4 win over the Tigers.

“I feel since the last two losses, we have been working on our offense and chemistry,” Abbazia noted. “We finally got it down in a big game. We all worked together and realized that playing as a team is more important.”

Greenwich controlled the game’s first draw, courtesy of senior defender/midfielder Kaitlin Kelly. On the matchup’s opening possession, Tauber tallied off a shot from close range, giving GHS a 1-0 lead 1:33 into the game.

Abbazia used her elusiveness to tally off a dodge, making it 2-0 with 20:15 remaining in the first half. Ridgefield’s best moments came in the first half, scoring three straight goals to take a 3-2 advantage. Sophomore Gabriella Lauretani put the Tigers on the scoreboard with a goal at the 13:13 mark of the first half.

Greenwich and Ridgefield battle for possession of the ball at midfield during FCIAC girls lacrosse action at Greenwich High.

Junior Caroline Generosa evened the score at 2-2 for the Tigers, scoring with 9:22 to go in the first half. She then tallied at the 6:34 mark, putting the visitors on top, 3-2. However, the Tigers generated only one more goal thereafter.

Freshman attack Giselle DiPietro tied the score at 3-3 for GHS by scoring with 5:02 left in the opening half. With just 57 seconds to go in the first frame, Abbazia found the mark with a shot from close in, making it 4-3. Sophomore Grace Winkler’s free position goal as time expired in the opening half, pulled Ridgefield even at 4-4.

It was all Greenwich from there, as the home team notched the matchup’s final seven goals.

“It was a complete team effort,” Tauber said. “The way we played is exemplary of the way we have been striving to play in practice. In film sessions, we’ve been working to play exactly the way we just did and I’m so proud of us.”

Greenwich is all smiles after its home win against Ridgefield on May 4, 2023.

Tauber’s goal off a spin move and dodge gave Greenwich the lead for good at 5-4 1:37 into a second half that saw the Cards outscore the Tigers, 7-0.

Roth scored on a catch-and-shoot off a nice pass from Tauber, putting GHS ahead, 6-4 at the 18:10 mark of the second half. Catching a pass from Tauber, Abbazia charged toward the goal and snapped a shot past Ridgefield’s goalie, extending Greenwich’s lead to 7-4 with 16:05 to go in the game. Meanwhile, the Tigers possessions in the second half were few and far between, as Greenwich had several key draw controls.

Abbazia had three draw controls, Kelly got the game going in a positive direction for the Cards by winning an early first-half draw and freshman middie Leighton Collier won two draws for the victors.

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich’s Keira Young, right, plays defense during a game versus Ridgefield at Cardinal Stadium.

“It was good to set the tone in the beginning with the first draw, that was really nice and I think it gave us the comfort we needed to execute what we wanted to execute,” Kelly said. “I think we played a great game all-around. Working with Emma Abbazia on the draw controls is amazing, she knows how to get it on her stick.”

Tauber tallied again with 13:58 remaining in the second half, then Abbazia put GHS up, 9-4, converting a low shot with 9:49 to play. Abbazia and Roth scored the game’s last two goals, sealing the Cardinals’ impressive win.

“We lost to them several times over the years, I shed a few tears on their home field last year, so it’s great to get the revenge that we really wanted,” Kelly said. “This was a huge game for us.”

Greenwich High junior Emma Abbazia scored four goals in the Cardinals’ triumph against visiting Ridgefield.

Supported by Greenwich’s defenders, Furno was sound throughout in goal. Senior Sophie Roth, Savio, senior quad-captain Keira Young, Kelly and Lacey Warwick (senior) were among some of the defenders who played highly effective defense in the winning effort.

“Our defense played one of the best games ever,” Abbazia said. “Daryl had her best game ever and we couldn’t have won without them. All-around, it was a great team effort.”

Said Clough: “We lost to them here two years ago and it was a close competitive game. So we were striving for that close, competitive game again and just tried to finish. We managed to get the lead and take care of the ball. We had great leadership out there on the field.”

Greenwich High senior defender Sophie Roth in action during an FCIAC game vs. rival Ridgefield.

Greenwich is back in action tonight with another night game, this time, on the road. The Cardinals will visit Fox Lane (N.Y.) High School at 6 p.m. They, of course, enter the non-conference matchup with plenty of momentum, following three straight victories.

“I honestly think this was the best game we played in a long time,” Savio said of Thursday’s win versus Ridgefield. “We’ve been working hard in practice all week and we wanted to come out here and show everyone in the FCIAC that we can compete with the best teams. We came out here and we wanted it and we were hungry and came away with what we wanted.”

“We’re definitely moving up, we’re climbing the stairs and we’re so excited for what’s to come,” Tauber said.

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