Greenwich girls lacrosse falls in thriller to Hall, 12-11

All it took was roughly 30 seconds for the Greenwich High School girls lacrosse team to go from utter excitement to unbearable heartbreak.

After trailing throughout most of its game against No. 4 seeded Hall High School, the 13th seeded Lady Cardinals stormed back to stun the home crowd in West Hartford by knotting the game at 11-11 with 31 seconds to play in regulation.

Just as if it couldn’t get more exciting, Greenwich was within a hair of taking the lead with 18 seconds to play, but a key play by Hall goalie Madison Hooper started a play that ended with Hannah Cho scoring the game-winner with four seconds to play to shock Big Red.

“It’s a bummer,” Greenwich High head coach Cailtin Keane said. “I’m kind of speechless right now. We are all a little bit shocked. The game was going back-and-forth for a little bit and we fought our way back. We couldn’t have asked for a better ending scenario and then the end happened. It wasn’t meant to be. To fight all the way back and not come out on top means that I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”

With the score even at 11-11, Greenwich regained control of the ball on the faceoff, Carolyn Paletta broke away from the Hall defense and was 1-on-1 with Hall’s Hooper. Carolyn Paletta fired a missile of a shot, but Hooper came up with arguable the biggest save of her career with 18 seconds to play.

“It’s a lot of pressure to put on one person and I’m sure she felt that,” Keane said. “She wasn’t feeling well today, so we couldn’t rely the whole game on that one opportunity. We should have had a lot more goals earlier.”

The Warriors gained control of the ball and that’s when Cho, a New England record holder on the school’s 4×200 indoor track team, took over.

Instead of passing the ball to Boyle, who was unstoppable for Hall all game, Cho darted through the Greenwich midfield and defense and with four seconds left on the clock buried a shot past GHS starting goalie Kylie Ginsburg for the clincher.

“I’ve been in sports my whole life and you can’t script that,” Hall High School head coach Steve Boyle said. “To have our goalie make that save with 15 seconds left, and that’s after we let them come back and everybody was thinking the game was going to go to overtime or they were going to win, was surreal. And then Madison has the presence of mind to find Hannah. When Hannah has momentum, you can’t stop her. It was just surreal because of all the turn of events. It was one of the coolest sports ending ever.”

Greenwich got hat tricks from both Carolyn Paletta and Maddy Graves, while Anne Dunster scored two goals and an assist. The duo of Grace Paletta and Natalie Paletta each picked up a goal and an assist. Emily Ludington also finished with one goal.

Nicole Graham and Hannah Koorbusch pitched in with an assist.

For the Warriors, no one was better than Alannah Boyle, as she finished with six goals and three assists.

“We were surprised and she actually gets insulted when people don’t face-guard her,” the head coach said. “We saw that and felt like they didn’t game plan for us. She recognized that she wasn’t face-guarded and took advantage of that. When they did double her, Alannah did a wonderful job finding the other players.”

Not to be outdone was Mackenzie Molodetz, who finished with three goals. Lydia Chelin and Morgan Kennedy each added a goal to help out, but it was Cho’s goal that Hall and Greenwich won’t soon forget.

“Greenwich was the most unfavorable No. 13 seed known to man,” Steve Boyle said. “The last two weeks I ran through every scenario and they all went to us playing them. It means a lot to us to win the game. The FCIAC schools have dominated it so much that if we think we could compete with them, we better be sure to do it. While we could have gotten a much easier draw, this has definitely prepared us for the next teams we see.”

Just to get to the nail-biter of a finish, Greenwich had some catching up to do. Trailing 11-8 with 5:52 to play in the game, Greenwich’s defense settled down and the attack started dominating the play so Big Red could storm back.

Natalie Paletta, found the back of the net on a nice dish by Dunster and Natalie’s sister Carolyn got the ball at the midfield and charged the net on the far side of the field and scored with 3:23.

Carolyn Paletta struck again by netting a goal off a restart with 31 seconds to tie the game at 11-11.

“I am so proud of this team,” Keane said. “I told them that they should be very proud of themselves because of how hard they fought until the last four seconds. It’s unbelievable. To tie the game was awesome.”

Although Hall started the game leading 1-0 with less than two minutes gone by, Greenwich settled down and built a 3-1 lead. Grace Paletta got Big Red on the scoreboard with a goal off a faceoff victory and a big push down the field.

A little over two minutes later, Ludington connected off a free position to make the score 2-1. On the man-up, Greenwich got the faceoff victory and dished the ball to Dunster, who found the back of the net 12 seconds later to make the score 3-1 with 20:59 to play in the first half.

However, Hall’s Alannah Boyle and Molodetz each tallied a goal to knot the game at 3-3 with 16:22 left in the first half.

In net, Ginsburg came up huge all game and finished with 12 saves on the day. Throughout the game, Ginsburg was keeping the ball out of the harm’s way when Hall had golden opportunities at the net.

With 1:15 to play in the first half, Ginsburg, along with GHS defenders Natalie Paletta, Sloan Caan, Graham and Olivia Lazar, withstood a flurry of shots on net by the Warriors. With 18:35 to play in the game, Hall’s Catherine Gadue netted a free position shot, but Ginsburg calmed scooped up the ball.

Ginsburg’s counterpart Hooper finished with 11 saves.

“This team really did come together as a team,” Keane said. “A lot of the girls were new to the team, so the fact that they were able to come together as a team at the end of the season and all work towards the same goal of attempting to be a champion was great to see. They should be very proud of that they accomplished this year.”

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