GRANBY, May 25 – It’s a different team that defending state champion Canton will bring to next week’s Class S tournament. A year ago, it was a talented, veteran team that won the first girls lacrosse state championship in school history.
This year, the Warriors are dominated by youth. Five freshmen started in Thursday’s NCCC Tournament championship game against Ellington. Two Canton players are gone for the year with ACL injuries. Alexa Huff, the team’s leader on defense and one of the team captains, is hobbled with a knee injury and didn’t play last night.
Starting goalie Courtney LeFave made nine saves in net last night to earn the victory despite playing with a broken thumb.
Still, no one in the NCCC beat Canton this season. The Warriors (15-2, 8-0 NCCC) became the third team in league history to go undefeated in the regular season and capture the league tournament with a dominating 15-3 win over Ellington, a squad making their first-ever NCCC final appearance.
In 2012 and 2014, Avon went undefeated and swept through the league tournament. Avon (2009) and Granby (2010) also went undefeated in the league but there was no league tournament following those seasons.
“It was a dominant defensive performance,” Canton coach Sean Cole said. “We’ve spent a great deal of time this week working on our defense in preparation for (Ellington) and next week (in the Class S tournament). I am very proud of the way we played defensively.”
Canton gave up just three goals to the Purple Knights (10-8, 4-4 NCCC) and have allowed just eight goals in the last three games.
“I think the guys who are healthy are playing terrific,” Cole said. “They are playing with a lot of confidence. We have five starting freshmen and they are playing like juniors. That’s exciting for a coach.”
The goal-scoring machine, senior Grace Giancola, led the way with six goals and two assists. Giancola, named the MVP of the tournament, has scored 20 goals in the last three games. Freshman Abby Charron added four goals and an assist against Ellington while freshman Ashley Huff scored twice. Freshman goalie Jessie Webb made two saves in net after LeFave’s took a ball off her injured thumb.
Canton was a big favorite but they didn’t take Ellington lightly. “We went undefeated in the league,” Cole said. “But you have to back it up with (a win) in this game. That has been our push since last week. You have to take care of business when that opportunity is in front of you.”
It was the second consecutive NCCC championship for Canton and their second straight tournament championship victory. The 12-goal margin of victory was the largest in tournament history for a championship game.
Canton returns to action on Tuesday when they host the winner of Saturday’s game between Somers and Immaculate-Danbury in the second round of the Class S tournament at 5 p.m. on the turf field.
The Warriors earned the No. 4 seed and could face No. 3 Old Lyme again in the semifinals. The Warriors beat Old Lyme in the semifinals a year ago on the way to their first state championship. In a rematch in late April, it was Old Lyme with an 11-10 victory in double OT.
“Our focus is on preparing for either Somers or Immaculate,” Cole said. “I’m not going to talk now about a team we might play in the semifinals.”
Canton 15, Ellington 3
Ellington (10-8) 2 1 — 3
Canton (15-2) 9 6 — 15
Goals: Grace Giancola (C) 6, Abby Charron (C) 4, Ashley Huff (C) 2, Julianna Iovine (C), Zoe Bates (C), Fiona McNally (C); Abby Wyle (E), Kari O’Conner (E), Gina Carroll (E); Assists: Giancola (C) 2, Charron (C) 2; Saves: Jesse Webb (C) 2, Courtney LeFave (C) 9; Gina Carroll (E) 13
|2017 NCCC girls lacrosse||NCCC||Overall|
x-won league championship
y-won league tournament
2017 NCCC Tournament
Semifinal: Ellington 10, Somers 7
Final: Canton 15, Ellington 3