Greenwich field hockey advances in CIAC class L tourney with 3-0 shutout of Conard

The Greenwich High School field hockey started play in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference class L tournament in dominating fashion earlier today, traveling up to West Hartford and blanking No. 8 seeded Conard High School, 3-0.

“It was another great game and Freddie did another outstanding job for us in net,” GHS head coach Ally Orrico said. “Our forward line did an outstanding job. It was a good team win and we were very pumped up. I think we got a lot of confidence from the Wilton game. Hopefully we could continue a nice run.”

“Our team didn’t give up and that’s the most important thing,” Conard head coach Courtney Heuitson said. “We were at it throughout the game, but we just couldn’t connect with the goals and the breakaways killed us today. Greenwich was moving the ball really well and were really comfortable playing with each other. They have an intensity that will help them with whoever they face.”

Big Red was paced by junior Sydney Cole, who finished with two of the team’s three goals. Greenwich’s other scorer was senior Emily Brash.

It was Greenwich’s fast-paced attack that got the better of Conard in the class L opener, as all three goals were scored on the fast break. With 22:20 to play in the first half, Brash started things off by pushing the ball to the Conard net and firing a shot to the right corner of the cage for the 1-0 lead.

The next two goals were all Cole. With 15:03 to play in the first half, Cole took the pass and sprinted down the far side of the field. Beating the Conard defense, Cole unloaded a shot that hit the left corner of the net for the 2-0 lead.

Cole’s second goal of the game happened with 27:35 to play in the game, as she picked up the loose ball in the midfield and sprinted past the Conard defense and was 1-on-1 with the Chieftan’s goalie. After a fake, Cole pushed the ball in the back of the net for the 3-0 lead.

“It was a long bus ride, so we had to make sure we came out with a lot of intensity,” Cole said. “I think we didn’t a good job with that and getting a few quick goals. The goals that I scored were because our defense got the ball up to the forward line really quickly. I was just happy to finish.”

“Sydney does a great job helping us sustain our attack because she has great stick skill,” Orrico said. “She makes very smart decisions. I am very impressed with her growth this season. She’s always been a good player, but this year she’s grown into one of the best forwards in the state.”

Although the Cardinals were in Conard’s zone throughout most of the contest, it was the Chieftans who held the 11-9 advantage in shots on goal. Conard also held the 15-10 advantage in corner opportunities.

“I think the breakaway situations that hurt us today,” Heuitson said. “You leave one person open and that ends in a goal. I thought we had a lot of momentum in the first half and some other times in the second. We were getting the corners, but we couldn’t finish on goal

When it came to action between the pipes, no one was better than junior Freddie Bancroft, who kept Conard off the scoreboard and finished with four saves.

“I thought we played really well today, from defense to offense,” Bancroft said. “I think that we definitely were pumped for this game and I think we’ll be pumped for Monday’s game. The defense played well and really helped me out a lot. I felt good in net today.”

Bancroft really helped Big Red to start the second half, as the Chieftans were finding countless corner opportunities. Whatever shots Bancroft wasn’t able to get to, her defense was right there to pick up the pieces and hit the ball out of harm’s way.

“We really stepped up our defense and kept the pressure on,” Orrico said. “I am so impressed with our defense because they are so young, but they made incredible leaps in development throughout the year. They learned so much, so quickly.”

With the victory, Greenwich advances to the second round of the class L tournament and will play either the winner of tomorrow’s Staples versus Norwalk game or top-seeded Darien High School Monday afternoon.

No matter who Big Red tackles, Orrico believes her team is ready.

“Anything is possible and I know that we have to play our best game against everybody in the tournament,” Orrico said. “It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. If you win a game in states, you definitely earn it. I don’t think Connecticut gets the credit it deserves. We have a lot of talent in this state and there are no easy games.”

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