Greenwich High

Greenwich High girls water polo team coasts to another undefeated season

Photo by David Fierro: Members of the Greenwich High School girls water polo team gather during their final match of the season at Greenwich High School on May 7, 2023. The Cardinal enjoyed another highly successful season.

Perfect in the pool.

That’s what the Greenwich High School girls water polo team was once again this spring.

The Cardinals finished their 2023 season undefeated, registering a record of 10-0, marking the third straight year they have gone unbeaten. Over the past three seasons, Greenwich is an eye-popping 30-0, while getting the better of each opponent it faced.

This season saw the Cardinals defeat opponents such as Williston-Northampton School, the defending NEPSAC champion, Greenwich Academy, Staples and Greenwich Aquatics, Phillips Andover Academy to name a few. They were also victorious against several squads at a tournament they won at the United States Naval Academy.

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich’s Julia Gustafsson looks to pass the ball during a scrimmage against the GHS boys team.

“We finished 10-0 and had a great season,” said Greenwich first-season coach Jimmy Ramaley, who took over the coaching reigns for Paul Constantin. “We went down to Navy to compete, which was nice. It was a great first year working with the girls for me. We had a really strong team and a great senior class, led by CJ and Emma.”

CJ and Emma, whom Ramaley referred to are senior captains CJ Weigel and Emma Gustafsson. The duo sparked the Cardinals with their standout play and leadership throughout the season. Greenwich closed out its 2023 campaign with a scrimmage against the Cardinals’ boys water polo team last Sunday and the Cards’ girls senior captains had a final chance to shine for their squad.

“I’m really happy about the season, but I’m really sad,” Weigel said. “Leaving the team is really tough. It was honestly, one of the best seasons I’ve had at GHS and it was so much fun.”

Greenwich High girls water polo goalie Norah Mendelsohn looks to pass the ball after making a save.

Gustafsson was Greenwich’s leading goal scorer and overall scorer, igniting the team’s offense during each matchup. Weigel was rock solid in goal throughout the season, helping to keep the Cardinals ahead in their games with key saves.

“It was a good season, I’m proud of what we did,” said Gustafsson, who competed on the team with her sister, Julia, a freshman. Julia Gustafsson was also among the team’s leading goal scorers.

“It’s been so different every year,” Gustafsson said. “It was so special to have my sister on the team as a freshman this year – it was really special.”

Greenwich High girls water polo coach James Ramaley talks to the team during a timeout last week in a scrimmage.

Gustafsson and Weigel will both continue their respective water polo careers at the Division I collegiate level next season. Weigel will play at Princeton University and Gustafsson will join the team at Michigan.

“I’m so excited,” Weigel said of playing the sport in college. “The opportunity in itself is incredible and to be able to keep doing something that I love so much feels awesome. Especially at that level.”

“Michigan has done really well in the past, so hopefully, we’ll be a top-10 DI team,” Gustafsson said of her opportunity. “It’s sad that I’m leaving this team, but I’m glad I still get to play water polo and have more to look forward to.”

Photo by David Fierro: CJ Weigel, left and Emma Gustafsson were outstanding senior captains of the GHS girls water polo team. They helped lead the Cardinals to an undefeated 2023 season.

Greenwich two captains, Gustafsson and Weigel, Ellen Norell, Brenna Coffey and Bronte Brock were the team’s seniors and they each contributed greatly to the program over the years. Norell will compete at the Division I level as well next season, as she is heading to Brown University.

“They are going to Princeton and Michigan, respectively, which is very cool for them,” Ramaley said. “To have three girls playing at that level is something that we’re excited about for them.”

Twins Ashley and Olivia Hopper were two juniors on this year’s Cardinals’ squad. The Hoppers also were among Greenwich’s scoring leaders, providing consistent offense during the season.

Greenwich High School’s girls water polo team scrimmaged the Cardinals’ boys team last week at GHS.

“They helped get the team going and did what needed to be done to help us go undefeated,” Ramaley said of the Hopper sisters.

Sophia Ojjeh made key contributions as a sophomore on the team, which included 11 freshmen. Shea Morris, Maggie Wilson, Ainsley Sarhbeck, Hannah Flakstad, Julia Gustafsson, Lily Norton, Kaleigh Murphy, Gigi Peck, Addie Shaw, Faith Vinntiner and Norah Mendelsohn were Greenwich’s freshmen, who should give the team plenty of depth next spring.

Addie Shaw of Greenwich looks to take a shot during a scrimmage against Greenwich High’s boys team.

A major highlight of the season for the Cardinals was their exciting trip to Barcelona, Spain, where they competed against water polo programs of all skill and age levels during spring break.

“Our trip to Barcelona was the peak of our season,” Ramaley noted. “We had the opportunity to play some of the best clubs in the world. The team had a chance to experience a different culture. With over 20 clubs in the city, we got to play six of them, ranging from 16U to professional women’s teams. We got to work with some famous coaching, which was a really cool experience for all of them.”

Greenwich High girls water polo captains CJ Weigel, left and Emma Gustafsson had great careers for the Cardinals.

With the 2023 season completed and another undefeated season added to the program’s legacy, the Cardinals should be primed to add to their successful history next spring.

“This year, we had 11 freshmen and all of them contributed right away,” Ramaley said. “We are losing five seniors, but hopefully, we can have another big class and keep the numbers where they are.”

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