By Paul Silverfarb
Last week’s game against Greenwich Academy is the perfect example of a statement victory for the Sacred Heart Greenwich lacrosse team.
Although the Tigers were going into Greenwich Academy and facing a rival that has yet to lose this season, Sacred Heart was unphased and it showed. Their poise and control of the game helped propel head coach Tara Clough’s team to a 13-7 victory over the Gators.
“It was a great victory for Sacred Heart,” said Clough. “GA is always so competitive and they have some strong athletes, so we always know going in there that it’s going to be a battle. This time around, they were really loose and relaxed when they got off the bus. We went in there and knew that GA was 9-0 going into the game and that we were the underdog. We knew it would be competitive. We just had an excitement and energy to play in this high-level game and we just went out there and did an amazing job.”
In the game, it was the duo of Lily Deconcini and Ryan Smith that paced Sacred Heart, as each scored four goals. Smith took home two assists, while Deconcini added one. Not to be outdone was Katie Keller, who finished with three goals. Both Ameilia Sheehan and Samantha Clark added one goal each to round out the scoring.
“Obviously I was incredibly excited, seeing that this is my last year on the team and my first ever win against GA, but I think the overwhelming feeling was just pride for my team and all of our accomplishments,” said Clark. “Our energy, confidence and determination going into the game really motivated us on the field and helped us stay composed. We have all worked so hard this year and it was great to see every player on the team contribute to this win.”
Between the pipes, Rachel Keefe was lights out, finishing the game with 14 saves in the winning effort.
In Clough’s opinion, the difference in the game was Sacred Heart being unselfish with the ball and caring about the team approach.
“These players really played for each other that day and it was more about the ball movement,” said Clough. “We had a very strong defensive unit and we also were keeping our heads up and capitalizing on our opportunities on offense. We were able to push the break off the draw as well, so that also provided us with some opportunities. Overall, this is a great team and great chemistry. They care so much about each other and are looking to help their teammates. It was a total team effort. Everybody on the field and off the field stepped up for that game and contributed. It kind of all came together.”
With the victory, the Tigers moved to 9-2 on the season. As of press time, Sacred Heart upped its overall record to 10-2 on the season, posting a 20-6 blowout over Greens Farms Academy. While the victory against GA looks good on the scoresheet this season, Clough said that the victory will do much more for her program.
“We are looking to compete at the highest level in high school and a lot of these players are looking to play at the next level, so playing a team like Greenwich Academy and coming out on top is huge for the program and huge for its success,” Clough said. “I think the win will be meaningful for the players that are looking to join Sacred Heart’s program.”
While the celebration last week was on, it was quickly back to work for Sacred Heart Greenwich.
“More than anything, our win last Saturday was a source of validation and reassurance,” Clark said. “I knew we had the talent to beat GA, but there is this mental block that always forms before playing such a big rival. This time was different from previous years because we were mentally ready. We stayed focused, we worked well together as a team and kept our confidence up. Going into FAAs and New Englands, this confidence boost will definitely help us go far in both. We came out of that game with such a high and I know it will carry us through the rest of our season.”
Still on the regular season schedule is Taft School and Berkshire School, two tough NEPSAC opponents. In a few short weeks, the Tigers will begin play in the Fairchester Athletic Association, looking to keep the championship trophy at the King Street campus. A week later, it’s off to the round-robin New England championship tournament.
“There’s still a lot to play for,” Clough said. “We need to go out there and play our game in the FAA tournament. We need to stay confident and keep the energy going. If we can do that, I think we will be successful and can defend the title. At New Englands, our goal is to be in the top bracket of the round robin. I think our players are happy and playing the game they love. It’s going to be a great rest of the season.”