Greenwich High water polo gearing up for its annual Cardinal Tournament

Greenwich High School defensive specialist Mack Neary looks to fire the ball to a teammate during last weekend’s games in Pennsylvania. Neary leads the team in steals and interceptions.

Greenwich High School defensive specialist Mack Neary looks to fire the ball to a teammate during last weekend’s games in Pennsylvania. Neary leads the team in steals and interceptions.

After a dominating weekend in Pennsylvania, the Greenwich High School water polo team is returning home to the GHS pool for a little prep work before this weekend’s 39th annual Cardinal Tournament.

“It’s so nice to have our tournament here,” Greenwich head coach Terry Lowe said. “We have so few home matches, so to have our home tournament is always a treat. We feel the first round of the tournament will be easy for us, but we can’t take anybody for granted. We expect to be in the championship game and expect the Navy Aquatic Club to play us, but you never know what can happen.”

This year, in addition to the Greenwich High School “A” and “B” teams, the Cardinal Tournament will have six teams traveling to the GHS pool for Saturday’s event. Big Red is seeded first, with the Navy Aquatic Club second. The Y Pro Water Polo is third, while Gonzaga College High School is seeded fourth.

Cross-town rival Brunswick School is seeded fifth overall, with the Greenwich High B squad sixth. The Lawrenceville School is seventh and St. Benedict Prep rounds out the teams in eighth.

“There will be a lot of really tough teams this year,” Lowe said. “Gonzaga is definitely one of the better teams in the area, and they wanted to be seeded in a position where they could possibly play us in the semifinals. Navy is another really strong team. Every team in the field should be an exciting team to watch, and they are all extremely talented.”

The Cardinals’ A team will start things off, playing St. Benedict Prep at 10 a.m., while Brunswick will be in action an hour later when it plays Gonzaga. Greenwich High’s B team will hit the pool at noon.

Games will include seven-minute quarters and each team will be allowed one full time-out and one 20-second time-out per half. One change to the Cardinal Tournament this season is that the championship game, which was played last year on Sunday morning, will be played this year in the GHS pool at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“For the kids, I think the Cardinal Tournament is one of the events they treasure the most,” Lowe said. “It’s one of the few times that they get to play in front of their friends. We’ve had some great crowds in the past and expect that this year as well. We are hoping that more people will show up to the championship game since it’s being played on a Saturday night instead of Sunday.”

In preparation for the Cardinal Tournament, Greenwich High School boarded its bus and headed west last weekend. Despite the 10 inches of rain that flooded much of the Pennsylvania Valley area, Cumberland Valley High School was still able to hold its annual Screamin’ Eagle Tournament, and GHS couldn’t have been happier.

Greenwich High School goalie Steven Michaud makes the save on a 5-meter shot during last weekend's game.

Greenwich High School goalie Steven Michaud makes the save on a 5-meter shot during last weekend’s game.

Big Red left Pennsylvania with three more victories and improved its overall record to 21-0.

“We love to go Cumberland Valley,” Lowe said. “They have a wonderful all-deep pool, so it’s real water polo. We played two of the better teams from Pennsylvania and I thought we handled it very well. We started out slow once again, but as the day went along, we played more like we normally do. We got a lot of solid contributions from a lot of players. Tyler (Triscari) is our leading scorer and Julian (Fraser) isn’t far behind, but we’ve also got several other guys that can put the ball in the net at a critical time.”

The Cardinals started off against their toughest opponent, North Allegheny High School from the Pittsburgh area. After a tight opening quarter that ended tied at 1-1, the Cardinals slowly opened up a three-goal lead, as the half ended with Greenwich on top 6-3.

The lead grew to five in the fourth period and the game ended with GHS on top, 11-7. Julian Fraser led the attack with four goals, while Tyler Triscari, Ed Moss and Ben Wurst each scored twice. Jack Robinson added one goal for Big Red.

“We knew that the toughest game of the tournament would be the first one,” Lowe said. “They were really excited to play us and there wasn’t a team there that they wanted to beat more than us. They were ready to play, but we had more scorers than they did. They have three really talented people that could score, but we had a lot more that weren’t afraid to take the shot.”

Steven Michaud had an outstanding game in goal, making eight saves and blocking a penalty shot.

“I told Steve that this was going to be his game,” Lowe said. “We’ve been sharing goalie responsibilities because both are so good. Because Steve is the captain, I thought a big game like this should be his game. He had a wonderful game and in addition to his eight saves, he had a wonderful block on a penalty shot that pretty much sealed the game for us.”

The Cardinals followed with a surprisingly easy win over Cathedral Prep of Erie, Pa., 15-1. Once again, Triscari had a stellar outing, picking up the hat trick, with Robinson, Fraser, Moss, and Wurst each adding a pair of goals. Sam Bass, Nick Hyden and Jack Kerwin each scored once.

Under little pressure in goal, Alex Jahns had just three saves, while adding a pair of assists on his outlet passes.

In the evening closer against hosting Cumberland Valley, the Cardinals kept extending their two-goal first-period lead to eight, with a final score of 15-7. Leading the counterattack, Triscari hit for five goals. Hyden had a hat trick, Robinson had a pair of goals, and Fraser, Moss, Tyler Swift, Alex Zim, and Darius Asgari each had one.

Splitting time in the goal, Michaud made four first-half saves, while Jahns made five saves in the second.

“We are so balanced and so experienced,” Lowe said. “We have at least five seniors out there and they are big, experienced players. They are fast and confident and play a great team defense.”

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