Last week, the Greenwich High School girls soccer team scored a thrilling 1-0 double-overtime victory over Westhill in the FCIAC championship game, with the winning goal coming on a perfectly placed shot by Alex DiStefano -- in the 94th minute. The win earned the Cardinals their second FCIAC title, with the other coming back in 2007.
But the work isn't over for the GHS squad.
The Greenwich Citizen caught up (via e-mail) with the head coach of the Cardinals, Danny Simpson, on the day after the big win to talk about the game, the victory, and what is up next for the Greenwich team -- the state tournament.
First of all, congratulations on the victory over Westhill. Now that it's a day later, describe how you are feeling.
A day later, the real sense of accomplishment really sinks in. The efforts of the ladies, the preparation of the coaching, the execution of the game plan and of course the quality of the game winning goal.
What was your message to the girls before the game? After regulation? After the first overtime?
"You choose." You are the ones on the field. You choose if we leave the field as champions today. Stay relaxed and choose.
At half time, we adjusted our defense to accommodate the way Westhill had made subtle changes, whilst altering our attack to counter there defensive structure.
In overtime, we just told them to believe. You are in control of the outcome. Stay relaxed. In fact, to make sure they felt no pressure, we (Jason and I) played a fun game (totally out of context) to relax them and put a smile on their faces.
Describe what was going through your mind as you watched the game-winning play develop between Shannon and Alex and your thoughts as the ball arched into the net.
We had weathered a strong second half from Westhill, so we knew they had given all they had. We just had to be mentally strong if/when the game-winning chance came along. As the ball went in, we (Jason and I) didn't jump up and down, we focused on seeing the remaining 6:45-mins off the clock. we were too busy making adjustments to get caught up in the goal.
How does this victory compare to the one in 2007?
07' will always be special because it was the first. We were heavy underdogs throughout that tournament. This time, we were No. 2 seed and heavily favored. For me to win the 2nd title in four years means the program is strong and consistently challenging. This title proves to the girls that you get what you deserve IF you work hard enough and believe. That is so pleasing for me.
How will you ride this momentum into the state tournament?
State tournaments are so hit or miss. The luck of the draw, the road trips, etc. We have rested the girls and will refocus on Monday to go after the next available title.
Champions need to be beaten. That will be our attitude. So go out, and prove why you are the best in the FCIACs. "You choose."
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