With the game well in hand by halftime, Greenwich field hockey coach Ally Orrico emptied her bench to help her reserves gain valuable varsity experience.
It was only fitting that one of the most seldom-used players stole the show on the defensive end. Reserve goalie Leah Hotaling stopped six shots in the second half and Sydney Cole and Erika Hvolbeck combined for five goals in the first half as the host Cardinals won 5-0 over Staples on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
The defeat snapped the Wreckers' three-game win streak.
"All across the board we had a lot of depth today," Orrico said. "(Hotaling) was amazing. It was a true team win because everyone that stepped out there executed and played how field hockey was meant to be played."
Hotaling stepped in at halftime after Freddie Bancroft made three saves in the first period. With the hard-hitting Elizabeth Bennewitz firing most of the shots off of penalty corners for Staples, Hotaling and her defense had to be at their collective best to keep the shutout intact.
"One of (Orrico's) goals is to be a 60-minute team," defender Lizzy Trotta said. "We don't want to have any drop off and it was great because we were able to come together and maintain the shutout. (Hotaling) killed it; it was really fun to watch."
In what Orrico called the "best team performance of the season," Greenwich (7-1) dominated the early stages and broke the deadlock with 23:35 left in the first half. Paige Mautner found Hvolbeck in space and she made no mistake in finishing low past Staples goalie Jodie Baris. The scoring binge was only starting. Greenwich tallied five goals on six shots during a 12:48 stretch in the opening period. All of the goals were from open play, as Cole (three) and Hvolbeck (two) thrived in space.
"(Cole) is smart, fast and executes," Orrico said. "Not only did she score three goals but she played on both sides of the ball. She's so dangerous with the ball on her stick but she's so smart as an attacker because she knows she has to get back and play defense."
Staples (4-3-0-1) had a 9-1 edge in shots and an 8-1 advantage in penalty corners in the second half, but couldn't convert any of its opportunities. Staples coach Ashley Del Vecchio hoped to build upon this with a pair of tough games -- Ridgefield and New Canaan -- looming.
"We were proud we were able to come out in the second half and create the scoring opportunities," Del Vecchio said. "We just couldn't finish them; we outshot Greenwich and that's frustrating. Their goalies were great."
He credited a change in philosophy for her team's improved play.
"They were working together," Del Vecchio said. "In the first half they were playing more individually. We were letting get the ball in the second half we got in front of them."