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Defending state champion Canton dominates undermanned Avon, 17-7

Canton’s Grace Giancola, a two-time All-State selection, scored nine goals in Saturday’s 17-7 win over Avon on the turf field in Canton.

CANTON, April 8 – Avon High’s second-year girls lacrosse coach Kyle Kramek is optimistic about the upcoming season. His Falcons had a rough season a year ago with a young team and a challenging schedule resulting in just three wins in 15 outings.

“We’re so excited,” he said Saturday after Avon’s season opening game against Canton. “You haven’t seen the best of us. We’ve had so much growth and the potential coming in is unbelievable.”

The undermanned Falcons were dominated by defending Class S champion Canton on Saturday in a 17-7 defeat. Avon was missing eight starters away on school trips to Europe, college visits or family vacations. The weeklong spring break began in Avon and most school districts on Saturday.

Kramek and the Falcons are aiming to return to the Class M tournament again. Avon has missed out on post-season play just three times since they formed their first varsity team in 2000. And Kramek feels that the Falcons can be a contender in the CCC North with Conard, Hall, Southington, Farmington, Glastonbury and Simsbury.

“We’re right there on the cusp,” Kramek said. “We just need a few things to go our way.”

Avon junior Rachel Spivak is one of the veteran players returning for second-year coach Kyle Kramek.

Senior Emma Coran, who scored 20 goals in the last four games of the season a year ago, returns along with seniors Olivia Zaptaka, defender Catherine Neagle, Olivia Jackson, Kelly Gosciminski and goalie Olivia Donahue.

Juniors Rachel Spivak and Sydney Walters return with good speed at attack along with sophomores Mollie Morrison, Peyton Edwards, Tori Douglas and Taylor Adams.

Morrison had three goals for the Falcons against Canton while Spivak, Walters, Douglas and Adams had one goal each. Donahue made six saves against Canton.

The host Warriors are off to a 3-0 start coming off their first state championship in program history. They graduated five senior starters including goalie Amanda Gottlieb.

“This is a different team,” Canton coach Sean Cole said. “This isn’t the run-and-gun team we had a year ago. It could be at some point but not at this moment.”

The Warriors still have offensive firepower with two-time All-State senior Grace Giancola, who has scored 24 goals in three games. She broke her own single game school record with 10 goals in a 16-6 season-opening win over Northwest Catholic earlier in the week. She had nine goals and four assists against the Falcons.

Freshman Abby Charron, who was the point guard on Canton’s state championship basketball team less than a month ago, is off to a good start with the Warriors with nine goals in three games. Charron had four goals and four assists against Avon.

“We have yet to put together a stretch of 10 minutes when we look good,” Cole said. “Let’s be honest, we lost five rock stars (from last year, including Gottlieb). Our sophomore goalie (Courtney LeFave) is playing very well. She learned a lot (playing behind Gottlieb). That helps because we’re still giving up too many shots.”

Canton freshman Julianna Iovine keeps the pressure on Avon goalie Olivia Donahue in Saturday’s girls lacrosse game in Canton.

There has been plenty of emphasis on defense, according to co-captain Alexa Huff. The Warriors were tested on Friday in a 10-8 win over Somers. Canton played Somers four times a year ago and won all four contests including victories in the NCCC Tournament championship game and a win in the Class S title game.

“It was a very tough, physical, in-your-face grind it out match,” Cole said. Giancola led the way with five goals for Canton while Ashley Potter and Charron had two goals each. LeFave made six saves in net.

Canton had a six goal lead at 10-4 after Giancola’s fifth goal with 16:48 remaining in the game. They had to rely on their defense as the host Spartans scored four unanswered goals to cut the lead to two on Marianne Dalessio’s goal with two minutes remaining but Canton hung on for the win.

Canton is the favorite to defend their league championship and they should be a contender in Class S. But how good is Canton? Cole isn’t sure yet but games against Fairfield Warde (May 13, away), East Catholic (April 28, home) and Old Lyme (April 22, away) should provide a good measuring stick.

The final four games of the year are all against larger schools – Hall (May 11), Fairfield Warde (May 13), Bethel (May 15) and Watertown (May 19). Only the game against Watertown is at home.

“Our expectations are high because we believe the guys we have here are pretty talented,” Cole said. “Now the question remains in a big spot against Fairfield Warde, East Catholic and Old Lyme will (the young players) contribute enough for us to be successful and will the other team have the horses to take (Giancola and Charron) out of the game.”

Canton (3-0, 1-0 NCCC) returns to the field on Tuesday when they travel to Ellington for a game against the Purple Knights. The Warriors return home on Thursday morning when they host Suffield for a 10 a.m. vacation week matinee. Avon (0-1, 0-0 CCC North) returns to the field on Tuesday, April 18 when they host Ellington in the first home game of the season at the high school at 4:30 p.m.

NOTES: Giancola’s 10 goals broke the school record of nine that she set a year ago in wins over Watertown and Weston. … Katahdin Whitney scored her first career goal late in the game. 

Canton 17, Avon 7
At Canton
Avon (0-1)                     3    4  —   7
Canton (3-0)                 7  10  — 17
Goals: Rachel Spivak (A), Sydney Walters (A), Tori Douglas (A), Mollie Morrison (A) 3, Taylor Adams (A); Grace Giancola (C) 9, Abby Charron (C) 4, Katahdin Whitney (C), Julianna Iovine (C) 2, Ashley Huff (C); Assists: Bartko (A), Charron (C) 4, Zoe Bates (C); Saves – Courtney LeFave (C) 7; Olivia Donahue (A) 6

Canton 10, Somers 8
At Somers
Canton (2-0)                 6  4               10
Somers (1-1)                2  6                 8
Goals: Grace Giancola (C) 5, Ashley Potter (C) 2, Abby Charron (C) 2, Anna Holland (C); Marianne Dalessio (S) 3, Haley Swan (S) 2, Ashlie Delsky (S) 2, Camryn Swan (S); Assists: Giancola (C) 2, Charron (C), Bernier (S); Saves – Courtney LeFave (C) 6, Laura Morton (S) 8

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.

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