CANTON, April 21 – Canton High girls lacrosse coach Sean Cole isn’t interested in undefeated seasons and piling up easy victories. He wants his players to be tested, to grow and get better. That seldom happens when you’re beating teams by 10 goals a game.
The Warriors have an ambitious out-of-conference schedule this spring that includes defending Class S champion New Fairfield. It includes East Catholic, which won 12 games a year ago, and Old Lyme, which went to the Class S semifinals two years ago. They also have contests against Watertown and Hall, who have each won five of their first six games.
Canton learned some lessons Saturday when New Fairfield handed the Warriors their first loss of the season with a 14-8 victory. Canton never led and was frustrated by a speedy Rebel defense with their sticks in the air blocking potential passing lanes that left them little room to maneuver in the offensive end of the field.
The Canton player with the ball was frequently surrounded by two, three and even four Rebel defenders. And when Canton made errors defensively, the Rebels made them pay with several goals off set plays in front of the net.
The Rebels (8-1) didn’t receive any votes in last week’s top 10 coaches poll but they should this week considering they have defeated North Branford, 15-4, Old Lyme, 10-3, and Immaculate, 18-3, along with the Warriors to establish themselves as a favorite in Class S.
Nicole Berry and Reagan Tenaglia had four goals each for New Fairfield while Dominque DeMarsico and Daria Bock had two goals each.
For Canton (4-1), Abby Charron led the way with four goals and an assist while Maeve Balavender had two goals. Zoe Bates and Fiona McNally had one goal each.
“For us, a big part of the game is slowing (Canton) down in transition,” New Fairfield coach Karen Nell said. “Once they get over the restraining line, they are a threat. The goal for us was trying to slow them down.”
Winning faceoffs was a key for the Rebels, denying Canton possession of the ball.
The Rebels scored the first three goals of the game and led 5-2 with 6:22 left in the first half. But Canton tried to claw their way back into the game.
It was still a three-goal lead when Bates took a great feed from Julianna Iovine in front of the net and scored with 2:10 left in the half to cut the Rebel lead to two goals, 6-4. On the next possession, Canton goalie Courtney LeFave made the save and Canton was out on the run. Charron scored with 1:22 left to cut the lead to one, 6-5.
But Halle Nieves scored in front of the net with 1:01 left to push the lead to two. Canton couldn’t get off a shot before the half.
In the second half, New Fairfield scored six of the first seven goals to extend their lead to six goals, 12-6. Charron had three goals in the second half but it wasn’t enough. New Fairfield goalie Rachel Mikolay made 11 saves in net to help keep the Warriors at bay.
Canton came into the game excited considering they outlasted Granby, 12-11 in overtime earlier in the week with Charron scoring the game-winner in OT after the Bears had scored two late goals to force OT.
Canton returns to action on Monday when they travel to Somers for a NCCC contest at 3:45 p.m.
New Fairfield 14, Canton 8
New Fairfield (8-1) 7 7 — 14
Canton (4-1) 5 3 — 8
Goals: Nicole Berry (NF) 4, Reagan Tenaglia (NF) 4, Dominique DeMarsico (NF) 2, Daria Bock (NF) 2, Sammie Ruggiero (NF), Halle Nieves (NF), own goal; Abby Charron (Ca) 4, Maeve Balavender (Ca) 2, Zoe Bates (Ca), Fiona McNally (Ca); Assists: Charron, Julianna Iovine (Ca), Tenaglia; Saves: Rachel Mikolay (NF) 11, Courtney LeFave (Ca) 8