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Avon, Suffield girls battle to 0-0 tie; Late goal lifts Suffield past Avon boys

Amanda Holtzman (22, Avon) and Brittany Champagne (10)

Avon’s Amanda Holtzman (22) defends against Suffield striker Brittany Champagne Wednesday night in Avon.

AVON, Oct. 24 – The two titans among girls soccer teams in the NCCC battled to a draw for the second time this season. In September, Avon and Suffield played to a 1-1 tie. They met again on Wednesday night with the winner looking to seize command of the championship race in the NCCC.

But neither team could score in an 0-0 overtime tie under the lights on the Falcon football field. Avon (11-1-2) and Suffield (11-0-2) each currently share the lead in the NCCC with 24 points. The difference is that Avon has just two games remaining in the regular season while Suffield has three.

“We were looking ahead to this game,” Avon coach Jim Murray said. “They’re tough. It’s a litmus test to see where we stand (as a team).”

Murray liked the way that Avon played in the first half. They outshot the visiting Wildcats by a 10-3 margin. Catherine Jordan had two excellent opportunities but they couldn’t slip a shot past Suffield goalie Gabby Arruda (8 saves).

In the second half, Suffield was able to control the play and earn more scoring opportunities. Avon’s defensive backfield of sweeper Youn Jae Baek and defenders Amanda Holtzman and Sarah Betancourt played a very solid game against strikers Brittany Champagne and Reilly Williams.

“In the second half, they played like the way I wanted us to play,” Murray said. “They had some quick touches on the ball. We were dribbling too much. But we did get a few opportunities in the second half.” In the second half, Suffield outshot Avon, 7-2.

Jordan missed a long shot from the sideline that just sailed wide of the goal with about four minutes left in regulation. Arruda made a big save in traffic on another hard shot from Jordan with about 1:10 left in regulation.

Suffield’s Ashlie LaCruz had a direct kick from just outside the penalty box with about 2:30 left in the second five-minute OT period but sent the ball over the crossbar.

Avon hosts Enfield (9-5) in its regular season finale on Friday at Fisher Meadows before closing out the regular season at Ellington (9-2-3) on Monday. Suffield hosts Granby (9-1-3) on Friday night at 7 p.m. before playing at Enfield and hosting Coventry (5-6-2) next week to close out the regular season.

Avon goalie Kaylan Conrad made 8 saves to earn the shutout for the Falcons, who outshot Suffield by a 14-13 margin.

The game was played under the lights as part of the annual Spirit Week celebrations at the high school. It was part of a boys and girls doubleheader with Suffield with all proceeds from the event going to benefit the Oncology and Hematology unit at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.

Robby Brisco, a senior co-captain on the Avon High boys team, is getting treatment from the unit for cancer. Since gold signifies pediatric cancer awareness, the girls and boys teams wore gold jerseys.

Avon came into the game ranked sixth in the state in the Class LL/L state coaches poll while Suffield was ranked No. 2 in the Class M/S coaches poll. Suffield is looking for its third league title in the last four years.

BOYS SOCCER
Suffield 1, Avon 0
AVON, Oct. 24 – Suffield’s Colten Grob took a nice crossing feed from a teammate and headed in the game-winning goal with 7:29 left in the game to lift the Wildcats past Avon under the lights on the AHS football field.

Matthew Griffin

The win puts Suffield squarely in command of the race for the league championship with a 12-1 record (24 points), followed by Ellington (11-1-2, 24 points) and the Falcons (10-2-1, 21 points). Suffield has three games remaining while Avon and Ellington have two regular season contests left. The Wildcats are looking to win back-to-back NCCC titles for the first time. The Falcons have dropped two straight matches for the first time since 2007.

Both teams finished with 11 shots on goal and six saves each by their goalies. Suffield coach Connor Beaulieu made some spectacular saves including a point blank save on Avon’s Bobby Zaino on a head ball midway through the second half.

“We played great,” said injured Falcon co-captain Jackson Davey. “Our ball movement was unbelievable. It was the best game we’ve played this season. We just couldn’t put the the ball in the back of the net.” Davey has missed the past three games with a sore knee.

Avon finishes the regular season at Enfield (4-9-1) on Friday and hosts Ellington on Monday. Co-captain Robby Brisco, who has been undergoing chemotherapy to treat cancer and had a knee replaced this summer, hopes to take the kickoff for Senior Day against Ellington.

 

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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