Fairfield Warde scored in the first half but couldn't hold off visiting Greenwich in the second half Wednesday afternoon at Tetreau/Davis Field, and failed to open its field hockey season with a third straight win.
The Cardinals, FCIAC co-champions last year with Darien, got the go-ahead and insurance goals by Sydney Cole after Sarah Stinebaugh's early second-half goal negated Kelly Milicia's score for the Mustangs in the first three minutes of the match. Greenwich's 3-1 victory lifted its record to 2-0-0 overall and in the conference. Warde dropped to 2-1-0 overall and in the FCIAC.
Coach Ally Orrico's halftime pep talk to the Cardinals, reemphasizing team concepts, seemed to do the trick. A close game at the half turned into more of a one-sided match in the second half.
"We're starting to jell together as a team," Orrico said. "It's taking a little longer than I wanted. We got lucky today. We really could've dug a hole for ourselves, but we did a great job of coming back in the second half."
The Cardinals did a better job of filling the lanes on offense in the second half. The dividends from that adjustment came soon enough in the second half.
At 7 minutes and 17 seconds of the closing 30 minutes, Stinebaugh intercepted an errant pass within Warde's defense, moved past a defender, then cut in for a strong shot past Mustangs' goalie Katie Stepsis. The opening minutes of the second half featured Warde pressing, with three rapid-fire penalty corner opportunities, but Bancroft and her defenders prevented the Mustangs from taking a 2-0 lead.
Sixty-four seconds after Stinebaugh's goal, Cole scored the first of her pair by getting to the ball in a scramble in front of Stepsis. Less than 11 minutes later, Cole got a pass from sophomore Jessica Lagano and knocked the ball past Stepsis and into the low, far corner from close range.
Warde coach Jodie Shannon, whose team went 10-5-1-2 a year ago, was pleased with the added depth to this year's team. But when reserves are inserted into the action against a perennial conference and state contender of Greenwich's caliber, there can be a falloff in contributions from the bench. That's what she saw on Wednesday.
"Maybe they were a step ahead of us," Shannon said. "They have more depth. There's a greater difference in ability when other players got in there, as far as conditioning and skill. We couldn't get ahead of them on their big hits, and they like to play that game. They kept getting the big hits, and we were playing a chase game instead of our game.
"But I'm happy with the way we came out. We knew they'd be a test of us," Shannon said. "I feel we can learn from this. There's time to improve. We'll learn from the mistakes we made today."
Shannon said the Mustangs paying closer attention to their defensive responsibilities inside the circle will help Warde on the path toward improvement.
Greenwich 3, Warde 1
GREENWICH 0 3--3
FAIRFIELD WARDE 1 0--1
Records: Greenwich 2-0 overall, FCIAC; Warde 2-1 overall, FCIAC. Goals: G--Sydney Cole 2, Sarah Stinebaugh; FW--Kelly Milicia. Assists: G--Jessica Lagano; FW--Emily Allen. Goalies: G--Freddie Bancroft (5 saves); FW--Katie Stepsis (13).