CANTON, April 30 – This is uncharted territory for the Canton High girls lacrosse team. The program’s first winning season came a year ago when they won a single season record 10 games.
The Warriors encountered little resistance in their first eight games – outside of a four-goal win over Granby earlier this week – as Canton moved to an 8-0 start.
But how good were they? Could they play with a team from the FCIAC, a team that has to deal with lacrosse powerhouses Darien, Wilton, Greenwich and New Canaan on a yearly basis?
Canton played well Saturday in a 10-6 loss to Fairfield Warde. Emma Charron scored four goals to lead the Warriors while Kaelyn Oliver and Grace Giancola each had an individual goal. Canton goalie Amanda Gottlieb made 15 saves in net.
The visiting Mustangs (7-3) had a one-goal lead before scoring two goals in the final 4:21 of the first half to grab a three-goal lead at halftime, 4-1. Warde scored three goals on a power play early in the second half to take command of the game.
“It was definitely more physical than we were used to and (played) at a faster pace. Sticks were going everywhere,” Charron said. “I don’t think I have ever run so hard or for so long in one game in my whole life.”
The Mustangs swarmed around the Canton players with the ball, pressuring them into some ill-advised passes. The Warriors had a difficult time finding open lanes to shoot the ball toward the net. Fairfield Warde dominated winning faceoffs early in the second half, enabling them to control the ball and the pace of play.
“You can’t just drop the ball. It will be anyone’s ball,” Charron said. “In the NCCC, someone will miss it and I’ll jog over and scoop it up. In this game, you had to hustle for everything.”
The Warriors (8-1) played Fairfield Warde a year ago and lost 16-5. They welcomed the challenge again.
“We’ve been looking forward to this game while staying focused on the tasks at hand – the conference, the Hall game,” Canton coach Sean Cole said. “This is a game we’ve been super excited about to see where we are as a program.
“We realized we can hang in there with a team that doesn’t make the type of mistakes we’re used to seeing (from opponents),” Cole said. “There were opportunities (for Canton to score). But we got a little careless and showed a lack of discipline and patience. That’s probably my fault because I’m always encouraging them to go, go, go.”
Canton can take a big step toward their first-ever NCCC championship if they can beat Somers on Friday on the road. They also have challenging games remaining with Bethel at home on May 12 and at Simsbury under the lights on May 15.
After that, there is the NCCC Tournament and potential games with Granby and Somers and the Class S tournament. Cole didn’t want to speculate on what the Warriors could accomplish later in the season, preferring to focus on lessons learned on Saturday.
Warde led 2-0 with nine minutes gone on goals from Hannah Daugherty and Sarah Adams. Canton cut the lead to one, 2-1, with 7:56 remaining in the first half when Charron skipped a ball off the turf and into the net.
Fairfield Warde took a 3-1 lead with 4:21 left in the half and extended its lead to three goals, scoring with seven seconds left in the first half.
“That was a testament to how good they are defensively and how much better we are defensively than we were a year ago,” Cole said. The Mustangs had 10 goals and Granby had six earlier this week. In the seven games before the Granby contest, Canton gave up just 22 goals.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Canton was called for push in the back giving Warde a two-minute man advantage. The Mustangs made Canton pay with three power play goals to extend the lead to 7-1. Warde also won several faceoffs in a row to control the ball and the pace of play.
Canton cut the lead to four, 8-4, on a goal from Charron with 10:33 remaining the game. But Warde responded with two goals in less than two minutes to push the lead back to six goals. Charron scored with 2:37 and 1:56 remaining to trim the Mustang lead to 10-6 but that was close as Canton would come.
Fairfield Warde 10, Canton 6
Fairfield Warde (7-3) 4 6 – 10
Canton (8-1) 1 5 – 6
Goals: Emma Charron (C) 4, Kaelyn Oliver (C), Grace Giancola (C); Oliva Seymour (FW), Courtney Scheetz (FW) 3, Sarah Adams (FW) 2, Claire Secrist (FW) 2, Hannah Daughtery (FW), Erin Neff (FW); Saves: Rebekah Snitkoff (FW) 3, Amanda Gottlieb (C) 15