ROTTERDAM — Hayden Stalter thought this was the year. Greenwich was in its fourth consecutive state quarterfinal, looking for its first trip to the final four and the senior attacker thought this would be it.
The Witches came out strong on Saturday. They gave up the first goal a minute in, but then went on a run of almost six minutes of sustained pressure, winning six straight ground balls and finally scoring.
Former Syracuse University player Guy Waltman called it the best possession of the day’s four games on the Spectrum Sports broadcast.
But they weren’t able to match that energy in the second half and Westlake pulled away in the Class D quarterfinal. This wasn’t the year.
“We’re just kinda upset. If there was a year to do it, with the seniors and experience we have, this would have been it,” Stalter said after the 12-5 loss. “We’re a little upset, actually very upset.”
The Witches (17-2) had nine seniors, seven of whom had been on the team for four years. Their one loss in the regular season came to Class B Queensbury.
“I’m not sure the best team won tonight, but they were the best team today,” Sipperly said. “This is tough for all of us because we had the talent to get it done and we just didn’t perform or execute today.”
Bryce Wilbur brought the Witches within one goal with 35 seconds to play in the first half and it looked like they could seize some momentum. But James Gorman responded 23 seconds later to put Westlake (15-7) back up by two.
Two goals is a manageable deficit, but the swing caught Greenwich.
“When they come right back it’s tough,” Stalter said. “We just did all that work and they just put another one in.”
In the second half, Greenwich had a harder time clearing the ball and threw it away. The clean, quick game they played in the first half just wasn’t there.
Sipperly would have liked to see his team finish on a few more of its chances early, because it had a harder time creating them later.
“We had a couple of doorstep opportunities we didn’t finish on early in the game,” he said. “If we had finished some of the shots we should have finished in the first half, we probably would have been up. And that’s a different game.”
State Class D Quarterfinal
Westlake 2 3 4 3 – 12
Greenwich 2 1 0 2 – 5
Westlake: James Gorman 3-0, Michael Leva 2-3, Robert DiNota 2-0, Dylan Donnery 2-0, Ryan Donnery 1-2, Jeffrey Ausiello 1-0.
Greenwich: Jack Pemrick 1-2, Adam Owens 1-1, Bryce Wilbur 1-1, Henry Gartner 1-0, Luke Pemrick 1-0.
Goalie-saves: Ryan Nicholas (W) 13. Gage Boddery (G) 9.