GREENWICH — After falling in the opening round of the FCIAC Tournament, the Greenwich girls lacrosse team saw its chances of realizing a number of goals left dangling.
Now, it what must seem like a second version of their conference playoffs, the Cardinals are making a run at accomplishing them.
Greenwich scored three goals just over three minutes into today’s Class L quarterfinal game against Staples, took a 5-1 lead and was never threatened in a 14-9 win that showcased both the teams’ bright presents and futures.
“That was definitely one of our things that we talked about, setting the tone and that’s kind of our overall goal right now,” Greenwich coach Caitlin Copelan said. “We came out and played hard and selfless against a very good Staples team.”
With a first-round win over Fairfield Ludlowe, the second-seeded Cardinals 14-3 are assured of staying within their league the entire postseason. They earned a chance to play Wilton in Tuesday night’s semifinal round. Waiting for the winner will be either Darien or New Canaan — two venerable programs the Cardinals, by quirk of schedule, have yet to play this season.
“If you’re lucky to make it to the championship you want to be playing the best teams,” said Copelan,” who starred at Wilton. “New Canaan and Darien are those teams.”
Paige Finneran, one of the underclassmen who helped the Cardinals get off to a good start, finished with 5 goals. The sophomore was the beneficiary both of good ball movement and the work on draw control by Jess Ware, a freshman who has already made a name for herself as the goaltender for the school’s girls hockey team.
“First of all, hats off to them on the draw. No. 23, I don’t know who she is but I wish she was on my team because my god, can she get the draw,” said Staples coach Stephanie Calabrese, referring to Ware by her uniform number.
Copelan said controlling time of possession has been an added emphasis in practice this week.
“Jess Ware is just a stud hockey player and she just has an incredible knack for the ball, and that was a huge game changer for us,” Copelan said.
Only three of the Cardinals’ goals came from seniors. Maggie O’Gorman finished with 3 goals, while Romy Villemure and Leah Caputo, a freshman, added two apiece.
Villemure is one of Greenwich’s captains.
“We got the draw and we took advantage of that right as it happened,” Villemure said. “We have a good tendency to keep our heads up and look for the open player at all times rather than playing selfishly. Today we definitely kept strong and played a good two halves.”
Greenwich’s Genevieve DeWinter recorded her 100th career goal in the win.
Colleen Bannon and Christine Taylor each scored 3 goals for the Wreckers (12-7), who upset league runner up Ridgefield in Tuesday’s first round. Kyle Kirby, a freshman, added two goals.
This marks the end of Calabrese’s fourth season, the completion of a chapter as she cycles through her first class of players.
“When I started at Staples the goal was four years,” Calabrese said. “To try and make a difference in four years. The FCIAC semis, state quarterfinals after not making the FCIAC Tournament last year. I think if we played the way we played in the last five minutes all game…”
The Wreckers scored three times in the final 90 seconds, and on the last draw the festive mood on the sideline seemed what one would expect from a team just one goal down, not about to see its season end.
“It’s a special team,” Calabrese said. “Do I think we played our best lacrosse today? I don’t. But I think there was a glimpse of it. We lose three starters, with a ton of talent on the sideline. (Greenwich is) very talented. It’s not like we were playing a bad team. They’re very fast, everybody can shoot, but the draw. They’ve got that down and that wins games. I hope they go far.”
The Cardinals lost to Wilton by a goal during the regular season. Avenging that outcome would both put them in the final and assure the chance of finally playing either Darien or New Canaan.
“We were a little bummed out that we couldn’t play them this year; we always look forward to it and the hype for it,” Villemure said. “If we do get there it will be an awesome game. With how we’re playing right now it will be a close game.”