Greenwich Academy beats Sacred Heart for FAA lacrosse title

Greenwich Academy junior midfielder Lexi Henkel tries to move the ball up the field during Tuesday's game against Convent of the Sacred Heart.

Since arriving at the Greenwich Time in the spring of 2003, I’ve seen some competitive games between longtime crosstown lacrosse rivals Greenwich Academy and Convent of the Sacred Heart and the matchups the past two years have been more intense than ever.

The Gators and Tigers renewed their rivalry Tuesday in the FAA Tournament finals and Greenwich Academy, which suffered an 11-9 loss to Sacred Heart in the title game last spring, prevailed, posting a 12-9 victory. The hard-fought win gave GA its 27th FAA Tournament championship in 29 years under the tutelage of head coach Angela Tammaro. GA has also won the FAA regular season title 28 of the last 29 years. The Gators entered the game with plenty of motivation after last year’s setback in the title tilt and it showed, as it seized a 9-4 halftime advantage. But the Tigers held the Gators to three second-half goals and closed to within 10-9 with 9:25 left to play at rainy Tammaro Field. The Gators held on though, as senior goalie made several clutch saves down the stretch. Here’s my take on some of the key aspects of the exciting game.

Doing it with defense: Tammaro didn’t have to think twice while reflecting on some of the game’s deciding factors.

“Defense won the game for us today,” Tammaro said. “They had a lot of take-aways and forced turnovers. I thought our defense was superb – defense was the star for us today.”

The Gators doubled-teamed Sacred Heart senior attack Maggie Annecchino and senior midfielder Alli Sciarretta whenever they could. Sciarretta recorded a hat trick, while Annecchino, who scored five goals when the two teams met in the regular season had one goal.

Seniors Kara Sperry and Kira Schott, juniors Emma Olney and Mary Taussig and sophomores Maggie Schmidt, Izzy Viola and Julia Conway keyed GA’s defensive effort. The Gators forced 15 CSH turnovers.

Winning the draws: Greenwich Academy, which had possession for a good portion of the first half, won 15 of the 23 draws in the game.

Near misses for Sacred Heart: The Tigers came close to tying the score at 10-10 late in the second half. GA goalie Liv Tapsall, who finished the game with 11 saves, made a pair of key saves on free position attempts and the Tigers hit the crossbar and post with a pair of shots while they were trailing 10-9.

Torrid start for Tapsall: Junior midfielder Emilia Tapsall helped the Gators set the tone early offensively, scoring the game’s first two goals and assisting on the Gators’ third goal of the afternoon. She recorded a hat trick with two assists. Senior Marisa Noto led GA with four goals.

Saying goodbye: The Gators will graduate co-captain Emily Conway, Liv Tapsall, Noto, Anne Gilliland, Parker Procida, Becky Dobbin, Sperry, Schott and Sarahbeth Brecht.

“It feels great to win this title as a senior,” Schott said. “It would have been sad to end the season my senior year with a loss to Sacred Heart.”

Sacred Heart, meanwhile, graduates Annecchino, Christine Bloom, co-captain Lindsay O’Callaghan, Ana Roman, Allison Toner, Jen Schwabe, co-captain Alli Sciarretta and Molly Scudder.

“It was the best year ever,” Sciarretta said. “I couldn’t have asked for more from my teammates. I’m so proud I had the opportunity to be on this team and play with these girls.”

Dave Fierro