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Avon field hockey team captures first CCC South championship

Players on the Avon High field hockey run to celebrate after Paige Deppe, far right, scored in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Southington to give the Falcons the CCC South championship. More photos from this game.

SIMSBURY, October 31 – There has been no shortage of challenges for the Avon High field hockey team to overcome this fall.

The season got off to a late start. The Falcons played their first game on Sept. 17 – ten days after opening day due to an unplayable field at the high school and some untimely afternoon showers. For a while, there was the daily question of where practice would be held and where Avon would play their home games.

Thanks to Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, the Falcons found a new place to practice and play on a smooth, synethic turf surface – one of the two turf fields behind the school.

And the regular season closed with six games in eight days, including three straight road games.

On Wednesday, the Falcons trailed by a goal at halftime. But Avon ripped off five goals in the second half to beat Southington, 5-1 and win their first Central Connecticut Conference South title. The Falcons (13-3) ran the table in the CCC South, going 7-0. The key victory was a 1-0 win over South Windsor on Thursday.

It’s the first title for the Falcons in the CCC and the first since 2014 when they grabbed a share of their fourth straight North Central Connecticut Conference championship.

Avon’s Alyssa Vicino (6) battles with Southington’s Kate Barner (10) in Wednesday’s CCC South game in Simsbury. More photos from this game.

“It’s awesome,” Avon High coach Terri Ziemnicki said. “We had a good season. We’ve played some good field hockey. I think in the first half, everyone was trying to do it themselves. We realized that we needed each other and we’re good when we work together. That’s why we scored five goals in the second half.”

Leading scorer Paige Deppe scored three goals – her third hat trick of the season. Deppe scored has a team-high 19 goals. Julia Butler, who has scored five goals in the last four games, had a goal along with Sarah Thomas, who scored on a penalty stroke.

Goalie Kat Pringle made two stops in net and faced just four shots.

“I don’t know if I have ever had such a good passing team,” Ziemnicki said. “The girls have really worked on that. They’ve put together some nice passes.”

Deppe scored one of her three goals when she was wide open in front of the net and received a sharp pass from Jamie Rubenstein and popped it in the net.

Has playing on turf contributed to that growth in passing? “Without a doubt,” Ziemnicki said without a second of hesitation. “A couple of times we have played in grass and it hasn’t been pretty. I’ve told the girls you need to appreciate every opportunity you get to play on turf.”

“It’s been a huge difference,” said Thomas. “(On grass), it is was hard to connect with our passing. But since we’ve been here at Ethel Walker, we’ve been able to connect on the field. And the excitement of winning games on turf has really helped.”

Avon’s Jamie Rubenstein (11) and Southington’s Autumn Swain (7, right) compete in Wednesday’s CCC South game in Simsbury. More photos from this game.

Avon is no stranger to the CIAC state tournament but they’ve been playing on grass ever since the team was formed in 1969. Most of the teams on Avon’s schedule now play on turf and the semifinals and championship games in the state tournament are played on turf.

Most years, the Falcons would be looking to adjust to turf in the tournament. Now, they’re fine tuning their game for the CIAC Class M tournament. Avon is expected to get a first round bye and should make their tournament debut in the quarterfinals on Thursday, Nov. 8.

Avon started off the week with a 5-1 win over Simsbury on Monday with Butler scoring twice and Deppe, Rubenstein and Hayley Yaros scoring goals. On Tuesday, the Falcons dropped a 1-0 decision to No. 12 Enfield.

The Falcons needed a win over Southington to claim the CCC South championship outright. The game got off to a sluggish start with the visiting Blue Knights taking a 1-0 lead on a goal from Julia Jackman with 25:11 remaining in the first half.

Butler tied the game when she deflected a pass from Alyssa Vincino into the goal with 26:25 left in the game. Three minutes later, it was Deppe with a hard shot from just inside the white circle line off an assist from Thomas to give Avon a 2-1 advantage.

Deppe made it 3-1 when she scored a penalty stroke with 11:34 remaining. Two minutes later, Deppe scored off a nice cross from Rubenstein for a 4-1 lead. Thomas also scored on a penalty stroke to make it 5-1.

Avon outshot the Blue Knights, 24-5 and had a 17-2 edge in penalty corner opportunities.

Playing in the CCC for the fourth season, this was Avon’s best overall record (13-3) in their new league. It is the best regular season mark for the Falcons since going 14-1 in 2011.

Avon 5, Southington 1
At Simsbury
Southington (7-8-0-1)            1  0  — 1
Avon (13-3)                                0  5  — 5
Goals: Julia Jackman (S), Paige Deppe (A) 3, Sarah Thomas (A), Julia Butler (A); Assists: Thomas (A), Jamie Rubenstein (A), Alyssa Vincino (A); Saves: Kat Pringle (A) 2, Alina Calderdone (S) 13; Shots: Avon, 24-5; Penalty corners: Avon, 17-2

2018 CCC South field hockey

Team League Overall
x-Avon 7-0 13-3
South Windsor 6-1 11-3-1-1
Glastonbury 4-1-0-2 8-5-0-3
Southington 4-3 7-8-0-1
Wethersfield 3-4 9-6-1-1
N.W. Catholic 3-4 11-5
Newington 1-6 3-10-1-1
East Catholic 0-7 2-14
x-won league championship

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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