Gabriel Richard field hockey hosted cross-town rival Ann Arbor Greenhills on Wednesday in their opening Catholic League game for 2019.
The Irish (1-2-0) were looking for its first win of the year after two close losses – the latest being a 2-0 loss to Grosse Pointe South a week ago.
Meanwhile, Greenhills (1-3-0), was coming off a 1-3 loss last Thursday against St Catherine Academy.
At the opening whistle, the Irish came out strong and with purpose. They immediately began to control the play and put pressure on the Greenhills’ defense. Though the opportunities were there, the Gryphons held strong with several solid stops by their goalkeeper.
The Irish did not let up and with 17 minutes left in the half, senior Jane Falahee sent a crossing pass to senior forward Sarah Whittaker who received it near the goal and stuffed it past the Gryphon goalie for the opening salvo.
Greenhills responded immediately and were able to get a penalty stroke called during a corner play with 6 minutes left in the half. It was a great opportunity for Greenhills to level the game but Irish goalkeeper Mary Rourke made the save to preserve the 1-0 lead into halftime.
In the final 30 minutes of the game, FGR continued to control the field of play. Though Greenhills was able to move the ball into the Irish side, FGR’s defense was solid, only allowing one shot in the half.
Meanwhile, with 12 minutes left in the game, Whittaker tallied her second of the day on a breakaway. Sophomore forward Chloe Connelly sent a perfect pass to Whittaker who fired the ball past the Greenhills’ goalie for a 2-0 lead.
FGR would go on to a 2-0 win over Greenhills.
“Greenhills is always a tough game for us and this was no different,” said FGR Coach Craig Flocken. “They are well coached. We needed the effort we got today to come out on top.”
Flocken was proud of the way his team responded to the challenge.
“They were a bit down after two hard fought losses,” Flocken said. “It has been a tough start to the year but the coaching staff kept telling them to play within the system and good things will happen. (Wednesday) they played within our system and we were able to pick up our first win.”
The Irish out-shot the visitors 10-3 and had eight corners to one for the Gryphons.
“This was also the opening of our Catholic League schedule so it was important for us to start on the right foot in our quest for a Catholic League title,” Flocken said. “The season is young so we will just focus on our next task which is Warren Regina. We know they are a much improved team over last season and it is a grass field game, so we got our work cut out for us.”