Sacred Heart wins OT thriller to claim FAA championship over GA

Although the Greenwich Academy soccer team was able to knot the game at 2-2 with nearly six minutes left to play, it was Convent of the Sacred Heart that found the back of the net in overtime, as the Tigers won the Fairchester Athletic Association championship earlier today.

“This feels absolutely amazing,” CSH head coach Logan Condon said. “This was a team that really wanted to win for one another and this is just a great moment.

Through a back-and-forth overtime, the play went upfield and the Greenwich Academy defender misplayed the ball. That’ when junior Tracey Hagan took advantage. Hagan gained control of the ball and went 1-on-1 with GA goalie Meghan Keating.

Hagan rifled a shot that found the back of the net on the right side in the 98th minute for the game-winner.

“It was an unbelievable moment,” Condon said. “She has scored a lot of goals for us and is an experienced forward.  The whole place erupted. We had a great fan support and they had plenty to cheer about. It was phenomenal. I was over the moon for Tracey. She’s worked so hard throughout the season and played as the lone role up top. She does a lot for the team and for her to get the goal was fitting. Throughout the season, her goals helped us get here. I’m so happy and proud of her.”

It was the Gators that started the game on fire. In the 20th minute, GA struck first, as senior Megan Root finished a cross that came across the box for the 1-0 lead.

In addition to her FAA-clinching goal, Hagan scored the equalizer as time was running down in the first half. With less than two minutes to play, she took the ball from sophomore Emily Cleary from the top of the 18 and placed the ball in the top right corner of the net for the 1-1 tie.

Nearly midway through the second half, Sacred Heart grabbed the 2-1 lead. Sophomore Grace Paletta was in the coner of the box and passed a missile to freshman Erin Cleary, who calmly slotted the ball home for the goal.

“Erin has been playing so well all season,” Condon said. “Her sister and her have been unbelievable all year. Erin took the opportunity and calmly put the ball in the back of the net. Although she’s a freshman, Erin acted like an upperclassman.”

Only six minutes after CSH took the lead, the Gators netted the game-tying goal. Junior Maggie Basta grabbed control of the loose ball in the box after a corner kick and beat CSH sophomore goalie Charlie Clark.

When it came to saves, Clark finished with 19 saves while Keating added five for Greenwich Academy.

Back on Sept. 24, the Tigers hosted the Gators but Greenwich Academy dominated in the 6-0 drubbing.

“The first time we played them, I think the girls realized that they gave up on themselves,” Condon said. “They were down. This time they picked themselves up when something bad happened. They learned how to deal with it and were trying just as hard to chase the result. That’s what they did today.”

In addition to the goal scorers for Sacred Heart, senior co-captains Concetta Brusco and Emily Casper were considered difference-makers for Condon.

“They truly went in with a lot of intensity and were leaving it all on the field,” Condon said. “It was the last time they were going to play, so they wanted to go out on top. They were playing the heart of the team. Emily is one of my center backs and Concetta was my defensive midfielder. They were doing their best to repel any attacks GA put on them. Those two seniors shut GA down.’

Since that first match-up with the Gators, the Tigers have been on fire, finishing the regular season and FAA tournament with a 10-1-1 mark.

“This puts us on the map,” Condon said. “This hopefully will show some of the NEPSAC schools that we are an up-and-coming team. Throughout the FAA, this shows that there is another program that wants to compete with all the perennials.”

In addition to Casper and Brusco, the Tigers have several other seniors that helped paved the way to the team’s success.

Ellie Densen, Catie Capolongo and Molly Carroll were instrumental keeping the team playing their best, giving the Tigers motivation and energy off the bench. Alex Foley and Claren Hesburgh were starters at the beginning of the season, however injuries ended their season early.

“This is a dream come true for the seniors on the team,” Condon said. “Five of them were starters and two of them were knocked out due to injury. My two captains have played varsity all four years and really stepped up. They were the difference makers.”

The dream season for the Tigers might not be done quite yet. On Sunday, Condon and the rest of the Sacred Heart soccer team will find out if they will be competing in the NEPSAC tournament, which begins next week.

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