Greenwich High water polo reigns supreme at Cardinal tourney

Another year, another championship for the Greenwich High School boys water polo team.

Competing in the Cardinal Tournament, Big Red, the host team, captured its championship for the 11th consecutive year.

“I thought it went in typical fashion,” Greenwich head coach Terry Lowe said. “We had a couple of easy games, but getting to that final game always turns out to be harder than you think it’s going to be.”

“As a senior, it’s always nice to keep the legacy alive of the people that came before us,” said Greenwich High senior captain Will Klingner. “What made it more meaningful was that it was a team that was from the same town as us. It was like we were competing for the town crown. It definitely made the game worthwhile.”

In the championship game Greenwich High got to see one of its newest rivals, although it’s seen the team on numerous occasions. Beating the Navy Aquatic Club in the other semifinal game, Greenwich YMCA turned the championship game into a battle for town supremacy, as both Greenwich High and Greenwich YMCA were set to battle.

Klingner scored the same number of goals as the Greenwich YMCA, as he helped Big Red earn the Cardinal Tournament title with an 11-4 victory.

“It was really interesting,” Lowe said. “We weathered the storm on a couple of ejections and got the leadoff goal, but they scored the final two of the quarter and led 2-1. Then, in one of the more exceptional periods I’ve seen my team play, we beat them 7-0 to put the game away. From there on, we played good defense to secure the win. It was certainly the best played game for us this year. We came out on fire and were determined to win the game. We put a couple of new wrinkles in our man-up and it really paid off. We got three straight man-ups and goals from three different people.”

While Greenwich High came away with the victory, it wasn’t as easy as the score indicated. In fact, Greenwich High was trailing 2-1 at the end of the first quarter.

Klingner scored Big Red’s lone goal off a penalty shot, while Greenwich YMCA got goals from James Baker and Thomas Dunstan.

“Having the depth that we have and the skill that we have, we never really have the chance to go 100%,” Klingner said. “It was clear that once they backed us into a corner and we were down, that’s when we knew we had to step it up. I pity the team that gets up into the corner because that’s when we go 100%. When we go 100%, nothing can stop us.”

Greenwich High took over in the second quarter, as Mack Neary netted two goals and the group of Ben Wurst, Tyler Triscari, Klingner, Julian Fraser, and Matt Fraser each netted a goal to give the Cardinals the 8-2 lead at the break.

“I think we just lost composure and needed to refocus on everything,” Matt Fraser said. “We got everything together, calmed our nerves down in the second quarter and refocused. That’s when the goals came.”

Although Greenwich High went silent in the third quarter, it exploded for three goals in the final frame to ice the game. Klingner led the way with two of the three goals, while Triscari added the remaining goal. Baker netted the lone goal for Greenwich YMCA in the third quarter and Charlie Owens rounded out the scoring in the final quarter.

This wasn’t the first time the two programs faced off this season. A few weeks back, the battle of Greenwich ended in a 9-9 tie. This time around things were a bit easier for Greenwich High.

“It was great,” Matt Fraser said. “Our last game was probably the best game that we’ve played all year. It showed the entire East Coast how great a team we are. I am so happy that we played well.

On Saturday morning, Greenwich High battled Gonzaga College High School in the semifinals of the Cardinal Tournament. However, things didn’t start well for Big Red. Trailing 5-2 in the second quarter, Greenwich struggled to get back in the game and forced a 7-7 tie with one quarter to play. The fourth quarter was all Greenwich, as it shut out Gonzaga 5-0 the rest of the way.

Julian Fraser was a key to Greenwich’s success against Gonzaga, as he netted a game-high six goals. Triscari and Neary each finished with two goals, while Klingner and Julian Fraser each added a goal.

“We played pretty well down the stretch,” Lowe said. “It looked like a comfortable 12-7 victory, but it was a nail-biter that made me think that we could lose this and miss out on winning the tournament. The kids really came through at the end to make it safe in the fourth period. Julian was a major force in the game and really kept us on top.”

For GHS goalie Steven Michaud, faring well in the team’s home tournament was critical for the team to have a successful season.

“All week we practiced really hard to prepare for the tournament,” Michaud said. “It showed in the final game. Greenwich High School and Greenwich YMCA has turned into a big rivalry, and we really wanted to win it. We came out really ready for it. We anticipated playing Greenwich in the final round. My defense was really helping me out in goal and really pressured the shooters. They also created challenging shots for the opposition.”

With the victory in the Cardinal Tournament, Greenwich High has a week off from weekend competition before it embarks on a rough finale to the season. On Oct. 27, Big Red will travel to the United States Naval Academy for the Annapolis Classic. During the first weekend in November, Greenwich will travel to Canada and participate in the Montreal Invitational.

“We go to Montreal knowing that we are going up against some really tough competition,” Lowe said. “We are not expecting to come away with a lot of victories, but we are going to gain a lot of experience and will learn a lot from great competitive teams. All three teams we play are going to be solid, and it’s a treat because we are going to have to work our buns off to stay in it.”

The Cardinals end the season the following weekend, when they travel back to the United States Naval Academy and compete in the Mid-Atlantic Championships.

“We have to play up from two to four years, so we will be playing teams four years older than us,” Klingner said. “What we lack in size we need to make up in attitude and skill. Hopefully, we will bring our best game and be able to neutralize our opponent as we’ve done in the past.”

“The end of our season is just jam-packed,” Matt Fraser said. “Montreal is always competitive and they have some really great teams there. They always give us a hard time. Then, going down to Navy is going to be tough because they’ve got great players that give us a hard time. I am looking forward to it and I think we can do really well.”

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