Greenwich pulls away from Norwalk in second half
Norwalk's patient, slowdown approach was working to perfection in the first 25 minutes of Thursday's Division L first round game, and that meant it was time for Greenwich coach Caitlin Keane to make some halftime adjustments.
One of them -- the biggest it turned out -- was moving Claire Feeney to defensive wing, a switch the senior All-State attack was initially none to thrilled to learn about.
Keane's reasoning was simple -- her team needed to start winning the draw, control possession and put the ball in the back of the net.
Enter Feeney, who was simply unstoppable in the second half.
Seven of Feeney's game-high eight goals came after the intermission as the Cardinals rallied from a slim halftime deficit and turned what was once a competitive state tournament matchup among FCIAC opponents into an impressive 18-8 home victory.
"I don't think Claire was real happy about going to D-Wing at first, but now she might have a new position," Keane said with a smile. "Actually what I told the girls at halftime was get the draw, we need draw controls. Norwalk was very composed in the first half, so we ned to change it up and make things happen. I like the way we finished today, that was a major factor."
So was winning the first nine draws of the second half, helping the Cardinals (17-3) rip off eight straight goals in the first 9:26 of the half.
The No. 19-seeded Bears (8-10) briefly cut it to 13-7 on Parthenya Taiyanides' second goal of the contest, but Greenwich would score the next two before closing the game on a 6-1 run.
"It was a tough first half," said Feeney, who now has 90 goals on the season. "But in the second I think we showed what we're capable of the rest of the tournament. After FCIACs, the motivation now is definitely to defend out state title. That's how we want to go out as seniors."
Defending L champ and third-seeded Greenwich will now host sixth-seeded Simsbury -- a 15-8 winner against Ludlowe Thursday -- in the quarterfinals on Monday at 5 p.m.
For the Cardinals, this game came six days after a 17-14 loss to rival Darien in the FCIAC championship last Friday.
"I didn't see the girls until Tuesday," Keane said. "They needed a little time away from from me, and they we got back to work."
Senior Tori Dunster finished with four goals for Greenwich, while Emma Christie added a hat trick and Sophie Waine had two goals -- both on free positions to start the second half -- and three assists.
Then there was feeder extraordinaire Shannon Colligan, who registered five assists.
"I was a little nervous at halftime," Waine said, "But I knew we'd pick it up in the second half."
For the Bears, who were coming off a 13-4 qualifying round victory over No. 14 Shelton, Efthimia Kutrubis scored a hat trick and Christine Mace had two goals and one assist.
Despite the double-digit defeat, Bears coach Al Morgenthaler couldn't have been prouder of his squad.
"That first half was as well as I've seen us play all year," Morgenthaler said. "I knew we couldn't run with them for 50 minutes, and the girls followed the game plan beautifully in the first half. The draws killed us in the second half though. I'm really happy with the effort our girls gave today, that's a great team they just lost to."
Both senior goalies had their moments as well. Greenwich's Hannah Jeffrey made nine saves, while Norwalk's Megan Carney stopped eight shots.