If one thing is certain at this point of Liz Schuellein’s coaching career at Greens Farms Academy, it is the fact that the Dragons’ field hockey program doesn’t rebuild.
It simply reloads and stays competitive.
Case in point: The 2022 edition of the GFA field hockey team, which enters the postseason today as the third-seeded team in the FAA with a 12-4-1 overall record, 5-2 in league play.
This comes in the wake of the program losing perhaps its most-talented player in Autumn Bartush ’22, now at Merrimack College, who rewrote the record book in her three seasons on Beachside Avenue.
Despite the graduation losses—which also included center back Anna Reynolds ’22 and reserve player Talia Orbach ’22—the Dragons simply came out and competed once again this fall, winning seven straight games to start the season.
“I mean really we weren't worried losing someone like Autumn with the scoring aspect because I knew there were going to be other people who could help out with scoring aspect,” Schuellein said. “But having someone like Autumn, who can just come in and like just take over when she needs to and get right in there and just finish, we've definitely missed that.”
What the Dragons boast this season, though, is a deeper and very athletic team as its roster is filled with multi-sport players who shine all over campus.
“We definitely have some really strong athletes on our team and I think that's a testament of just how great they are as people,” Schuellein said. “We have just such a good representation of our lacrosse and softball programs and our golf program, which is so great.”
More players, though, are also buying into working on their game in the offseason, too; something else that is paying off for the Dragons.
“We have had more kids just buying into doing some more work in the offseason, and that’s really just helped us develop and grow a little bit more and getting them that experience earlier on,” the coach said.
Experience is a big factor for the Dragons, who outscored the opposition by a 70-40 count. But, if you take out the losses to Class A powers Greenwich Academy and Sacred Heart-Greenwich, then GFA gave up just 26 goals this season.
And the team remains young and growing.
“The good thing about this team is that there's a lot of young players with a lot of potential, a lot of good talent,” senior captain Analise Trani said. “That was one of the things we were nervous about going into the season, but just seeing how they all stepped it up and like knew that they had to fill in big roles on this team and they took that responsibility. It just shows how much potential and how good this team is going to stay and continue to improve in the future.”
The return of Grace Almeida ’25 to the Dragons program (she was away at prep school for a year) has helped offset some of the offensive losses from a year ago as has the growing emergence of Lilly Hogan ’24, Livia Orenstein ’25 and Ava Blue ’25 as people who can also put the ball in the cage.
Rising freshman like Natalie Blazovic ’26 and Cate Lafreniere ’26 also bring growing experience as both played as eighth graders a year ago.
Ditto in goal, where Izzy Kittredge ’25 now has two years of experience under her belt in that position and has the save stats to back her ever-growing improvement.
Ava Dippel ’23, Piper Mead ’23 and Paige Bierman ’23 have brought valuable experience and leadership to the table as have other upperclassmen like Ava Consla ’24, Fran Sullivan ’24, and Scarlett Kniffin ’24.
Charlotte Raveis ’25 and Penelope Arredondo ’25 bring depth as do Lily Tremaine ’26, Lolade Oshin ’26, Catherine Vanderzee ’26 and Caroline Costello ’26.
And Caroline Almeida ’28 brings a look at tomorrow to the team today.
“We definitely built a tough season for them and I think it’s been just a testament to how bad they really want out to go out there and win,” Schuellein said. “They just love to compete.”
And with the FAA playoffs beginning today (GFA hosted Greenwich Country Day School in an FAA quarterfinal) the Dragons are looking to raise their game even higher.