Yea­ger’s two goals lead Tigers to FAA ti­tle

Greenwich Time - - SPORTS - By David Fierro

GREEN­WICH — Ryan Smith’s over­time goal lifted Sa­cred Heart Green­wich to a thrilling win over Green­wich Academy in the FAA Field Hockey Tour­na­ment fi­nal last sea­son and Fri­day, it was Beth Yea­ger’s turn to step into the spot­light.

Like last sea­son, over­time was needed to de­cide the ti­tle show­down be­tween the Tigers and Ga­tors and like last sea­son, it was Sa­cred Heart’s fans that stormed the field in cel­e­bra­tion at the game’s con­clu­sion.

Yea­ger, a sopho­more,

tal­lied with 8:24 re­main­ing in over­time, giv­ing sec­ond­seeded Sa­cred Heart an ex­cit­ing 2-1 win over top-seeded host Green­wich Academy in the cham­pi­onship game of the FAA


The vic­tory marked the sec­ond straight sea­son the 17-1-1 Tigers topped the Ga­tors for the FAA ti­tle. Green­wich Academy (15-2) posted a 3-2 reg­u­lar-sea­son win over Sa­cred Heart, just like last fall, the Tigers avenged the de­feat with a tri­umph in the con­fer­ence tour­na­ment fi­nal.

“When we play GA, it’s a ri­valry game, so it’s al­ways so ex­cit­ing,” said Yea­ger, a mid­fielder. “This is bet­ter than win­ning by a lot. It was a hard-fought game that took a lot of ef­fort for us to win it.”

On the game win­ning goal, which oc­curred 1:36 into the 7-vs.-7 over­time, Yea­ger con­trolled a pass, then car­ried the ball al­most the length of the field down the left side­line, while GA de­fend­ers were quickly ap­proach­ing her. She quickly set her­self close on the left side close to the cage and drove a short shot past Ga­tors’ fresh­man goalie Hamil­ton Doster, in­side the left post.

“I knew it had to be done, so I kept go­ing down the field once I had the ball,” Yea­ger said. “Our team is known for find­ing those pass­ing com­bi­na­tions on 7-vs.-7 sit­u­a­tions.”

Green­wich Academy, which re­ceived a goal from ju­nior Grace Schulze, out­shot Sa­cred Heart 9-2 and drew nine penalty cor­ners. But the Tigers, who have

yielded only five goals the en­tire sea­son, lim­ited the Ga­tors to one goal by ex­hibit­ing sound penalty cor­ner de­fense and strong de­fen­sive play over­all.

“We worked the whole week on that — de­fend­ing penalty cor­ners,” Sa­cred Heart coach Alex Ghe­o­rghe said. “We put cer­tain play­ers in cer­tain po­si­tions and they made it hap­pen. It’s an amaz­ing win for our team.”

The Tigers were close to win­ning the well-at­tended matchup in reg­u­la­tion, but the Ga­tors evened the score at 1-1 with 4:52 left in the sec­ond half.

Trail­ing 1-0, GA pressed hard to gen­er­ate scor­ing chances and a surge in front of the goal led to the equal­izer. Cut­ting to the goal, Schulze tal­lied from close in with plenty of traf­fic in front of the goal, mak­ing it 1-1. Sopho­more Eve­lyn Bar­ringer as­sisted on the ty­ing tally.

“Ev­ery­one was work­ing hard the whole game, un­for­tu­nately, the ball didn’t bounce our way,” said Schulze, a co-cap­tain. “It was a great over­time game — these are the games you re­mem­ber. It was a tough out­come, but ev­ery­one played well.”

With Schulze, Katharine Glass­meyer, Ju­lia Freedman and So­phie Freedman ap­ply­ing pres­sure in the cir­cle and Maya Walker an­chor­ing the back­line, GA forced an ar­ray of penalty cor­ners late in the sec­ond half, in­clud­ing three straight at one point. Yet goalie Olivia Caponiti, an eighth-grader, stood strong in goal, while re­ceiv­ing sup­port from her de­fend­ers in front of her.

“Be­cause we got so many cor­ners, I think we needed to cap­i­tal­ize on them,” Schulze said. “But other than that, I think we did a good job of get­ting the ball into the cir­cle.”

Mor­gan Smith (ju­nior), MaryGrace Far­rell (sopho­more) and se­nior co-cap­tain helped Hil­lary Hoover lead Sa­cred Heart’s de­fen­sive ef­fort.

“Just play­ing to­gether the en­tire time helped us, we knew this was go­ing to be an ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive game,” Hoover said. “Com­ing out with the proper mind­set, never giv­ing up, no mat­ter what hap­pened and work­ing hard un­til the last sec­ond was our fo­cus.”

Said Ryan Smith, who along with Yea­ger and se­nior El­lie Man­riquez, paced the vis­i­tors of­fen­sively: “Our de­fense is our rock, I don’t think we could have done any­thing with­out them. At the be­gin­ning, we had trou­ble putting the ball in the net, but our de­fense kept us in the game.”

Fol­low­ing a score­less first half, Yea­ger gave Sa­cred Heart a 1-0 ad­van­tage with 23:31 re­main­ing in the sec­ond half. Awarded a penalty cor­ner, the Tigers tal­lied, with Yea­ger re­ceiv­ing the insert pass and send­ing a hard drive near the top of the cir­cle that de­flected off Doster’s pads and found its way in­side the right post, mak­ing it 1-0.

“Win­ning last year was great, but this one feels even bet­ter,” Ryan Smith said. “We lost to them ear­lier in the sea­son, which mo­ti­vated us to come on their turf. When we came on to this field and took that first step, we knew we had to get it done.”


GA had the pos­ses­sion edge the ma­jor­ity of the first half, but didn’t score, de­spite com­ing close.

“I don’t think we ever faced that amount of pres­sure,” Man­riquez said. “There were cer­tainly times when we were ner­vous, but we talked to each other and re­as­sured our­selves. We were con­nected on de­fense and mak­ing good passes.”


Green­wich Academy coach Jamie Brower: “That was a great field hockey game, both teams played so hard. It had re­ally great mo­ments for both teams and that’s how it goes some­times. This is a chance for us to step back and eval­u­ate what we are do­ing well and what we need to do bet­ter.”


Fri­day’s FAA fi­nal didn’t mark the end of the sea­son for Sa­cred Heart and GA. Both suc­cess­ful squads earned berths into next week’s NEPSAC Class A Tour­na­ment. Green­wich Academy won the NEPSAC ti­tle in 2017.

“This is what hap­pened last year and dur­ing prac­tice and our other games, we kept think­ing how tough it was to lose and we used that to mo­ti­vate our­selves to keep go­ing,” Glass­meyer said. “We hope it works out the same way this year and we hope this will mo­ti­vate us.”

Scott Mullin / For Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Green­wich Academy’s Eve­lyn Bar­ringer and Sa­cred Heart Green­wich’s El­iz­a­beth Yea­ger bat­tle for the ball in the FAA fi­nal Fri­day at Green­wich Academy.

Scott Mullin / For Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Sa­cred Heart Green­wich player Syd­ney Gal­lop launches the ball in the FAA field hockey fi­nal against Green­wich Academy on Fri­day at Green­wich Academy.

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