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Every game, every second matters in NCCC title hunt – The Collinsville Press
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Every game, every second matters in NCCC title hunt

Connecticut Sports Online
CANTON, Oct. 29, 2002 — Before the leaves fall, the winds swirl and the afternoons grow cold and short, there are two flags out there for each area high school soccer team to chase — a league championship and a state championship. The task is to win a title competing among your neighbors and or win a title competing among similar-sized schools from across the state.

The Canton High boys soccer team is finding out what teams have learned in the North Central Connecticut Conference for years. The path to a NCCC championship is a narrow one, filled with many challenges.

It’s a hard challenge, a long challenge that can be determined by one game or a few seconds. Since 1984 when the league expanded, only one Class S team has successfully tiptoed its way to a NCCC championship when Granby won in 1985 and 2001.

Even long-time champion Avon has been derailed, losing to a .500 team in its final game of the season last fall to drop a chance at winning a league title. Earlier this month, Avon dropped a one-goal decision to Ellington on a last-second goal in the second OT and with a chance to clinch a share of the championship, dropped a 4-2 decision to Windsor Locks (6-5-4) at home.

As the 2002 campaign played out over the final days of the season, Avon (10-3-2) and Canton (10-3-2) were tied for the league lead with one game remaining. Avon earned a big win thanks to a 2-1 win over the Warriors at bumpy Bowdoin Field but were unable to build upon it.

Avon sophomore Jay Joyce took advantage to score a pair of goals to lift the Falcons past the Warriors. Only 3:17 after Canton had tied the game on a Ben Lentz rocket from 35 yards away, Joyce took advantage of a loose ball that deflected off a Canton defender and scored. Avon’s Andrew Thompson got into the open after beating two defenders but had the ball knocked loose by Canton’s Seth Mastrocola, right to Joyce.

“A team like Canton is going to mark [Andrew] tight,” Avon coach Marty deLiveron said. “So someone else has to look to shoot the ball and step up.”

The Falcons found a way offensively and did the job defensively. They were able to disrupt the Canton attack enough that the Warriors had few good scoring chances.

“They put a lot of pressure on us and the kids stepped up,” deLiveron said. “I was very pleased with the effort they had and the focus they had and their desire.”

“We tried to not let them receive the ball,” said Avon defender Brian Cartun. “They can’t do anything without the ball.” Cartun and teammate Curt Alvord made several outstanding plays to keep Canton at bay in the backfield, including a stop of Kurt Schilling with about 14 minutes left in the contest.

There was a noticeable rise in intensity in the second half as the Warriors got better ball movement. “When they want it, they can make it happen,” Canton coach Bill Phelps said. “But they can’t wait for that. This is a young team. They’re not used to that yet.”

Canton plays a game of deliberate controlled soccer. In many games, it is enough. But not in a game as intense as it was against Avon. “We need to be able to change the tempo a bit,” Phelps said. “We have the ability, it’s we don’t play that way because we’re used to playing controlled soccer.”

After dropping a 2-1 decision to Ellington, Canton won four in a row, capped off by a 8-1 rout of East Granby under the lights at Bowdoin Field on Homecoming weekend for the first-ever night win before the home folks. In the game before Avon, the Warriors battled Suffield to a 1-1 tie.

After 15 games, Schilling leads the team with 17 goals while Scott Delahanty has eight and Conor McAlindin with seven.

This story was first published at the Connecticut Sports Online website. 

NCCC Boys Soccer Standings
2002 Final

Team GP Lg Pts.
Avon 16 11-3-2 24
Canton 16 11-3-2 24
Ellington 16 11-5-0 22
Tolland 16 9-6-1 19
Granby 16 7-4-5 19
Enfield 18 8-7-1 17
Suffield 16 6-6-4 16
W. Locks 16 6-6-4 16

Two points for a win and one point for tie.

Wednesday, Oct. 30
Canton 2, Windsor Locks 0
Avon 4, Suffield 1
Granby 1, East Granby 0
Ellington 5, Stafford 1
Enfield 2, East Windsor 0
Tolland 2, Somers 0
Highlights: Karl Schilling had 2 goals as Canton clinched a share of its first-ever NCCC title. Four second-half goals lifted Avon to a share of the NCCC title. Earlier this season, Ellington (11-5) lost 2 victories because they used an ineligible foreign exchange student who played about 40 minutes total in the 2 games.

Monday, Oct. 28
Canton 1, Granby 1, OT
Windsor Locks 4, Avon 2
Enfield 1, Somers 0, OT
Ellington 2, Tolland 0
East Windsor 9, Stafford 1
Suffield 2, E. Granby 2, OT
Highlights: Jordan Church had a goal and Kyle Donaldson allowed only one goal as Canton (10-3-2) moved into a first place tie with Avon (10-3-2), which was upset by Windsor Locks (6-5-4) at home. Ellington (10-5) moved into third with a win.

Friday, Oct. 25
Avon 2, Canton 1
Ellington 6, E. Windsor 1
Granby 1, Suffield 0
Windsor Locks 1, E. Granby 0
Tolland 3, Enfield 0
Highlights: Sophomore Jay Joyce had 2 goals as Avon moved into 1st place with a win at Canton.

Tuesday, Oct. 22
Canton 1, Suffield 1, OT
Avon 6, East Granby 3
East Windsor 1, Somers 1 OT
Ellington 3, Enfield 2
Tolland 5, Stafford 0
Windsor Locks 0, Granby 0, OT
Highlights: Avon (9-2-2) closed to within one point of the lead in the NCCC thanks to three goals from Andrew Thompson and a pair from Sebby Lara in a 6-3 win over East Granby. Canton (10-2-1) maintained a one-point lead after tying Suffield, 1-1.

Saturday, Oct. 19
Canton 7, East Granby 1

Friday, Oct. 18
Avon 1, Granby 1, OT
Ellington 7, Somers 0
Enfield 5, Stafford 2
Tolland 2, E. Windsor 0

Tuesday, Oct. 15
Canton 3, E. Windsor 1
Ellington 2, Avon 1, OT
Granby 1, Somers 0
Suffield 9, Stafford 1
Windsor Locks 2, Enfield 1
Highlights: Canton (9-2) took over first place with  a win. Avon (8-2-1) lost in OT to Ellington when Jimmy Honda knocked in John Carron’s cross in the final seconds of OT.

Friday. Oct. 11
Avon 3, Tolland 1
Canton 6, Somers 0
Granby 2, Enfield 2, OT
Suffield 5, East Windsor 0
W.Locks 2, Ellington 1, OT
Highlights: Andrew Thompson had 3 goals in a win over Tolland as Avon (8-1-1) maintained a 1-point lead over Canton (8-2). The Warriors received 3 goals from Karl Schilling in a win over Somers.

This story was first published at the Connecticut Sports Online website. 

Since 2009, the Collinsville Press has been providing award-winning coverage of sports and news in the Farmington Valley and across Connecticut.

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