Greenwich field hockey ready to make noise in FCIAC, class L’s

The Greenwich High School field hockey team got the ball rolling on their preseason scrimmages with a game against Greenwich Academy. — John Ferris Robben photo

The Greenwich High School field hockey team got the ball rolling on their preseason scrimmages with a game against Greenwich Academy. — John Ferris Robben photo

With a healthy number of returning upperclassmen on the roster, the Greenwich High School field hockey team will be looking to make yet another run at an FCIAC and class L championship this fall season.

“It’s going to be very valuable for us,” GHS head coach Allyn Orrico said. “The girls are very confident. The trick for us is that we can’t let up. We have to scratch and claw. This league is incredibly tough and we can’t afford to have any letdowns against any teams. Anything that we get this year, we are going to have to earn and work for. Although they are talented and have experience, that doesn’t really count for anything in this league because it’s so stacked.”

Last season the Cardinals finished the regular season with a 13-2-0-0 mark. Although Big Red was bounced from the FCIAC tournament in the opening round, they rebounded in the class L tournament.

GHS was seeded third in class L and beat fellow FCIAC teams Staples (3-1) and New Canaan (1-0) to advance to the semifinal round. Against second-seeded Cheshire, Greenwich’s season came to an end with a 2-1 defeat at the Newtown High School turf.

This year, the Cardinals are expecting a lot from its four captains. Sarah Cicchetti, Anne Dunster and Maddie Graves will all be seniors on the defensive side of the ball, while Sarah Steinbaugh will be a senior captain at the forward position.

“They are really strong as players, but they are all very smart players and very athletic,” Orrico said. “They are dedicated to the team and are very unselfish. I see a lot of really great things from those four. They all know how to play their position and are doing a great job making sure the rest of the team is the same way.”

One of the big losses for Big Red last season was between the pipes, as Freddie Bancroft was lost to graduation. So far this season there are three people looking to fill her shoes at net, as senior Leah Hotaling and juniors Caroline Schultz and Gloria Ploog are battling for the starting position.

The Greenwich High School field hockey team got the ball rolling on their preseason scrimmages with a game against Greenwich Academy. — John Ferris Robben photo

The Greenwich High School field hockey team got the ball rolling on their preseason scrimmages with a game against Greenwich Academy. — John Ferris Robben photo

“It’s still an open competition,” Orrico said. “We are really strong there and have really good depth at goalie. They are all looking really good and are not making it easy for me.”

When it comes to strengths, Orrico knows her defense is big one. In addition to Cicchetti, Dunster and Graves, seniors Olivia Lazar, Alex Ng and Katie Renz, along with junior Kate Decker, will be playing the position.

“In addition to the captains, we are expecting Katie Renz to step up as a returning player,” Orrico said. “We have some new players coming in that we expect big things from.”

The midfielders will be strong once again for Big Red, as junior Malena Etchegaray will lead the way. Joining her will be talented senior Tania Iskandar, who Orrico said is talented on both sides of the ball.

Playing either at defense or at the midfield will be junior Francisca Etchegaray.

While she’s the lone sophomore on the roster, Paige Mautner is going to be looked upon to pace the team when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the cage. Joining Mautner will be Steinbaugh, who has had her fair share of clutch goals for GHS throughout her tenure with the team. Other returning players will be juniors Erika Hvolbeck and Kate Palastro. Rounding out the forward line will be senior Alayna Santarosa and junior Claudia Ricciardi.

Seeing some time at both the midfield and forward positions will be senior Rebecca Litt and junior Jessica Lagano.

“I think we are going to be a well-rounded team,” Orrico said. “We are going to try and basically play each game as it comes to us. Depending on the opponent is will depend on the style of play for us. You can’t rely on one style of play. You have to be well-rounded. We have to be able to sustain an attack, but also have to be able to hold some of the incredibly talented attacks that we face in the FCIAC. If the defense can’t hold, you’re in big trouble. Also, the midfield will be huge for us to win possession of the ball.”

Good thing for Orrico that the Cardinals are bringing back a lot of experience from last year. For the head coach, having the team peaking at the right time is a key to the team’s success.

“We need to be strongest going into the playoffs,” Orrico said. “We want to solidify a good spot in the playoffs and make a run.

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