Greenwich girls lacrosse team edges Staples

Trailing Staples by a goal at halftime, the Greenwich High School girls lacrosse team knew it had to seize the momentum in the second half from the opening draw and push the tempo.

"I told the team at halftime that they have to come out with more fire in the second half," Cardinals coach Caitlin Keane said. "We had to get off to a fast start."

The Cardinals wasted little time in heeding their coach's advice.

Greenwich began the second half with three unanswered goals in a 2 minute, 1 second span -- a spurt igniting its 11-9 victory against Staples at Cardinal Stadium.

"We came out with those three goals, bing, bang, boom, the other team calls a time out and our team asked, "coach is that what you were looking for?" and I said, `you think?'" Keane said. "That was the turning point. We needed the momentum in our favor those quick points gave it to us."

Fittingly, Cardinals senior captains Emily Johnson, Emma Christie and Sophie Waine paced the team's scoring effort on Senior Night. Christie had four goals Johnson recorded a hat trick and Waine tallied twice, for GHS, which entered the matchup off a loss to rival Darien.

"We wanted to avenge our loss from the other day," Christie said. "We came out a little slow, but we picked it up after halftime and used our speed to our advantage."

Sophomore Paige Murray scored four goals while sophomore Jenna McNichols tallied twice for Staples, which led 7-6 at the half.

"I thought we played awesome against a great team," McNichols said. "We kept hustling in the second half and kept our heads up throughout."

Said Staples coach Pete Najarian: "We played our game. Our settled offense was working and our defense and goalie came up big."

The Cards (12-2) tied the game 7-7 on Christie's goal off a feed from Johnson 1:18 into the second half. The Cardinals won the ensuing draw and Waine scored in transition nine seconds later, giving GHS the lead for good at 8-7. Johnson scored off the next draw 2:01 into the second half, making it 9-7 and forcing a Staples time out.

"They came out and ran the fast break effectively and we knew they were going to try to do that," Najarian said. "Those three quick ones in two minutes were key. They caught us on our heels."

Murray's goal at the 19:40 mark brought the Wreckers (8-5-1) to within 9-8.

Greenwich responded with goals from Christie in transition and Waine off a pass from Christie to go ahead 11-8.

"Offensively, we tried to move the ball around as quickly as possible so we could get a lot of people involved," Waine said. "We didn't want them to focus on stopping one player."

Said Johnson: "Tonight, we showed a lot of composure, we never got out of control. It was tough at times, but we held our own."

Cardinals first-year goalie Kylie Ginsberg kept her team ahead, making seven saves, five of which came during the second half. GHS senior captain and defender Molli Haimerl said the team had a better feel for what the Wreckers were doing on offense as the game progressed.

"They have different motion offenses and went around setting different picks, so we had to communicate with the other defenders about who was shooting and when to crash," Haimerl said. "By the end we had it figured out."

It was a back-and-forth contest the opening half, with the lead changing hands five times. McNichols and Murray each scored twice, while Ryan Kirschner, Meredith Hood and Amelia Heisler added single goals. Christie had two goals, with Johnson, Waine, Carolyn Paletta and Natalie Paletta adding first-half goals.

"Our team attack has improved all season and we showed that cohesiveness tonight," Heisler said. "We're improving every game."

Prior to the game the Cardinals held a ceremony honoring their 10 seniors. Once the game began, the Cards seemed intent on celebrating their special night with a win.

"It was nice for all the seniors to get on the field," Johnson said. "It's bittersweet, because this is the last high school team I'll play for."; 203-625-4423

Greenwich 11, Staples 9

STAPLES7 2 -- 9

GREENWICH6 5 -- 11

Scoring: S -- Paige Murray 4 g; Jenna McNichols 2 g; Ryan Kirschner 1 g; Amelia Heisler 1 g; Meredith Hood 1 g; G -- Emily Johnson 3 g, 1 a; Emma Christie 4 g, 1 a; Sophie Waine 2 g; Carolyn Paletta 1 g, 1 a; Natalie Paletta 1 g. Goalies: G -- Kylie Ginsberg (7 saves); S -- Emma Boland (9 saves). Records: Greenwich 12-2; Staples 8-5-1.