AVON, September 24 – It’s been a long time since the Avon High field hockey team played on their grass field outside of the high school.
For most of the month, they’ve been on the road practicing on the turf field at Ethel Walker School in Simsbury or playing the first three games of the regular season – all on the road.
They got a chance to play on their home field Monday night under portable lights as part of the Avon Booster’s Club Spirit Week celebration.
But Hall High spoiled the party, scoring just 2:37 into the game. Hall’s All-State goalie Anna Bobruff preserved the lead with seven saves to lead the Warriors to a 1-0 victory over Avon – the first loss of the season for the Falcons (3-1).
“We just didn’t play in the first two minutes of the game,” Avon coach Terri Ziemnicki said. “We didn’t come out (strong) and that was the difference. I thought we played great the rest of the game.”
Hall’s Chloe Nordyke scored on a crossing pass that found its way into the net with just 2:37 gone in the game to give the undefeated Warriors (5-0) a 1-0 lead. Bobruff and the Warrior defense stood tall the remainder of the game.
Much of the second half was played in Hall’s end of the field. Avon had an 8-2 edge in penalty corners and a 9-6 advantage with shots on net.
“She is incredible,” Hall’s fourth year coach Cat Hanks said of Bobruff. “She sees the ball well. She sees the field well and she communicates (well) which is what a goalie needs to do.”
Bobruff had the kick save, clearing the ball out of the circle on a shot by Avon’s leading scorer Paige Deppe with just 24 seconds left in regulation.
Deppe, an All-State midfielder a year ago, has scored five goals in the team’s first four goals, including three in a 4-3 win over Northwest Catholic in the season opener on Sept. 17. She also had the game-winning goal in overtime in a 1-0 win over Glastonbury on Saturday.
Sarah Thomas has two goals that she got in Friday’s 6-1 win over Windsor. She also had two assists in the game for a team-leading four points.
The Falcons have 13 seniors on the roster and good team speed throughout the lineup.
Hall beat Avon for just the second time since 2006. Avon had gone 5-1-3 in their last nine games against the Warriors.
“The grass field levels the playing field because we’re a turf team,” Hanks said. Hall has a synthetic turf field in West Hartford. “For us, it was just playing smart and seeing what we could come away with,” she said.
The uneven playing surface of the field hockey field has been an issue all season in Avon. Birds tore up the field in early September looking for insects, making it unusable for practice. The team was going to play on the football field as part of Spirit Week festivities but the grass was long and the field was even more uneven than the field hockey field.
“We need turf,” said Ziemnicki, a long-time supporter of the proposed synthetic turf facility in Avon. “This town needs turf. We’re way behind (other programs). In field hockey, the surface is important. In other sports, it isn’t as important. It’s like ice hockey. You need to have good ice. In field hockey, it’s important to have a smooth (playing) surface.”
The town of Avon is working to bring a $2.6 million proposal for a turf field and new eight-lane track at Avon High to replace the current football field and track to referendum in December. Town officials and volunteers have been working to bring a synthetic turf field to town since 2014.
In the meantime, the field hockey team has been flexible to get practices. Ziemnicki praised the help they have the received from Ethel Walker to host practices and two home games (Northwest Catholic and Glastonbury).
The Falcons (3-1, 2-0 CCC South) return to action on Tuesday when they travel to Wethersfield (2-1-1, 0-1-1) for a CCC South game on the turf at Cottone Field. It will be Avon’s third game in the last four days but Avon will have a week off before their next game at Simsbury on October 2.
Hall 1, Avon 0
Hall (5-0) 1 0 — 1
Avon (3-1) 0 0 — 0
Goal: Chloe Nordyke (H); Saves: Kathryn Pringle (A) 2, Anna Bobruff (H) 7; Shots: Avon 9-6; Penalty corners: Avon, 8-2