Playing its third game in as many days and its fourth matchup of the week, the Sacred Heart Greenwich lacrosse team certainly didn’t resemble a squad that was finishing off an ultra-busy stretch in its schedule Friday against Greens Farms Academy.
Up and down the field the Tigers went, as they relentlessly registered shots on goal, created scoring opportunities and imposed their will on another league opponent.
Junior midfielder Morgan Smith recorded five goals and four assists, while sophomore attack Lily DeConcini tallied five times to spark Sacred Heart in its 18-7 victory over visiting Greens Farms Academy in an FAA game.
The win clinched the FAA regular season championship for the Tigers, who are 13-1 overall and completed league play with a 7-0 mark. Next on Sacred Heart’s agenda is winning its third straight FAA Tournament title.
“We are champions of the league for the regular season, which is really awesome,” said Smith, who scored three second-half goals.
Senior midfielder Ryan Smith, Morgan’s sister, tallied two goals and three assists, while sophomore attack Hannah Dempsey added a pair of goals for the Tigers, who held a 7-3 halftime advantage.
The star of the game for the Dragons was senior goalie Kelly Van Hoesen. She kept GFA in the game during the first half, making 11 saves. Turning away shots from all angles Van Hoesen finished the matchup with 19 saves.
“We came out to compete and we are so proud of our girls and it started with our goalie out there,” said GFA coach Ciara Thurlow, whose squad is 5-2-1 and 4-1 in the FAA. “Her competitive spirit once again, really helped us. They (Sacred Heart) are an incredible team — one of the best in the country right now.”
DeConcini notched four of Sacred Heart’s seven first half tallies. Morgan Smith started the scoring, tallying 20 seconds into the opening half off a pass from Ryan Smith.
The Smith sisters struck again, this time with Ryan scoring off a feed from Morgan. Smith went low with her shot, making it 2-0 1:18 into the first half. DeConcini tallied in transition, then Dempsey converted off a shot, after several passes were made upfield, giving the home team a 4-0 edge at the 22:30 mark of the first half.
A fastbreak goal by Morgan Smith and a free position tally from DeConcini stretched the Tigers’ lead to 6-0 midway through the opening half. Junior midfielder Stephanie Wistreich scored the first of her team-high five goals with 5:12 to go in the first half for the Dragons’ opening tally.
After an impressive save by Van Hoesen late in the first half, senior attack Sarah Peltier scored from close in, bringing the visitors to within 6-3. Morgan Smith’s goal in the final seconds gave the Tigers some momentum heading into the second half.
Sophomore Fiona Lewis, senior Hilary Hoover, Molly Haggerty (senior) and freshman Franny O’Brien each added single goals in the winning effort.
“We had a really long week, but we didn’t let that get in the way,” said Hoover, who along with senior Athena Corroon, helped pace the victors’ defensive effort. “Because we had such strong momentum from the beginning we were able to carry that all the way through.”
Wistreich tallied twice for GFA, which saw Van Hoesen make 11 first-half saves, before the Tigers separated in the second half.
“Honestly, the score doesn’t reflect the game we played,” said Van Hoesen, a Greenwich resident. “This is a very competitive team that we went up against and it took a team effort to compete against them. I’m proud of how we played.”
Sophomore Rachel Keefe and eighth-grader Laura O’Connor combined to make four saves in the win.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Morgan Smith and DeConcini set the tone of the game with their playmaking abilities. In the loss, Van Hoesen stood out with her play in goal.
“We finished league play today (Friday), so we have our tournament up next, which is always fun to play in,” Hoover said. “We are definitely not stopping, we have a lot ahead of us. We’re definitely excited about the FAA Tournament.”
Said Thurlow: “We know Sacred Heart well. It’s mentally tough to play against them and to physically match up with them is a challenge. I’m very proud of how we competed.”
BACK ON TRACK
Lawrenceville School (N.J.) handed the Tigers their first loss of the season, posting a 12-8 win on Wednesday. Sacred Heart has won three games in as many days, since.
“Coming off that loss against Lawrenceville, this was definitely a big game,” Morgan Smith said. “We needed this game, so to get two in a row after that is awesome. Today, offensively, we were staying calm and controlling the ball, but pushing it when we needed to break.”