The Greenwich academy girls lacrosse team needed a complete team effort to beat its third straight quality opponent.
Even after falling behind early, the Gators showed the resolve that has led them to an unblemished record to this point.
Emily Conway and Emilia Tapsall combined for six goals as the Gators overturned an early deficit to edge Taft 11-10 on Wednesday afternoon at Tammaro Field, extending their record to 11-0 on the season.
"I was really thrilled," GA coach Angela Tammaro said. "Taft is a quality team. Once we started winning the draws we were able to get rolling. I'm so proud of our girls, they were terrific. The defense was great; they kept shutting down (Taft's) top scorers."
After yielding seven straight goals to fall behind 7-2, the Gators, who went more than 20 minutes between goals in the opening half, exploded for four goals in the first 3:20 of the second to tie the game. Tapsall's final goal off a free position shot gave GA its first lead of the contest with 18:51 remaining.
"Our fast break was really good towards the end of the game," Tapsall said. "We got through our passes and worked it up the field and we were able to get shots off."
Once GA started to control the faceoff circle, there was little Taft could do to contain the Gators attack down the stretch. Conway was tasked with the job after her side struggled to win draws early on.
"Faceoffs are everything right now," Tammaro said. "In the first half we were not getting any of them, we made a few adjustments and everything started working."
GA scored its final goal of the afternoon with 7:13 left, but then had to hold on as the visitors battled back with the same tenacity that got them the early advantage. Laurel Pascal, who netted four times, and Mary Dubois made the deficit one with just 1:09 left, but the Gators controlled the final faceoff and ran out the clock.
"We definitely know we are a really great team and we have momentum going into our hard games," Conway said. "Our whole team is really strong."
One of the turning points came with the Gators trailing 7-2 late in the first half. Tapsall found the back of the net with 34 seconds left to narrow the lead and give the Gators hope a second period comeback was possible.
"That goal at the end of the first half was huge because once it was halftime we were a lot more confident we could take it to (Taft)," GA co-captain Kara Sperry said.
Another key to the turnaround was the improved play of the back line, led by Sperry. The defense came out far more organized in the second half, limiting the Rhinos scoring chances.
"We decided that their passes to the middle were killing us," Sperry said. "In the second half we pressured the ball more and kept passes to the outsides, closed them down and prevented them from driving."
GA actually started the game in a positive fashion, scoring the first two goals of the game before the Rhinos settled in and dominated. Gators goalie Liv Tapsall made eight saves to notch the win.
After going 13-9 a year ago, the Gators have still yet to taste defeat this time around. Even after beating Deerfield, rival Sacred Heart and now Taft, no one is talking up an undefeated campaign just yet.
"I don't like to hear that word," Tammaro joked. "We have a lot of tough opponents left. Our biggest game is our next one."
That next opponent would be Rye County Day, which visits the Gators on Thursday afternoon.
Greenwich Academy 11,
TAFT 7 3--10
GREENWICH ACADEMY 3 8--11
Records: Greenwich Academy 11-0; Taft 8-2.
Scoring: T--Laurel Pascal (4g, 1a), Rachel Muskin (2g), Charlotte O'Leary (2g), Lynndy Smith (1g), Mary DuBois (1g) Rosey Oppenheim (3a). GA--Emily Conway (3 g, 2 a); Emilia Tapsall (4 g, 1 a); Parker Procida (2g, 2a); Lexi Henkel (1g, 1a); Izzy Nixon (1g). Goalies: T--Lexi Dwyer (7 saves); GA--Liv Tapsall (8 saves).