AVON, November 11 – There has been a lot of growth with the Avon High field hockey team this fall. Only two starters returned from last year’s team that won a CCC South championship and went to the Class M semifinals only to fall on double overtime to Sacred Heart Academy.
There have been some nice wins – a 3-2 win over Simsbury on opening day comes to mind — along with some tough losses in overtime to Enfield, 3-2 and Northwest Catholic, 1-0. The Trojans won eight games and were second in the CCC North.
The Falcons won just one of their final six games, going 1-4-1 with an overtime loss to Northwest Catholic. But Avon earned a spot in the CIAC Class M tournament as they do every year. The Falcons have never missed a state tournament since it began in 1973.
Monday’s Class M contest gave No. 16 Avon another opportunity to face Farmington, which beat the Falcons by one goal about two weeks ago.
Emma Volo scored her first goal since the opening day win over Simsbury with 23:28 left in the game to help Avon beat Farmington, 1-0 in a second round Class M contest Monday on the turf field at the high school.
The win moves Avon (6-7-2-2) into the quarterfinals where they will face No. 1 Guilford (19-0), the defending Class M champions, on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. in Guilford.
The Falcons were thrilled with the win over Farmington and came off the field with big smiles on their faces and plenty of hugs for their teammates.
“I think they wanted to prove them could play with (Farmington),” Avon High coach Terri Ziemnicki said. “The last time we played them (a 3-2 loss on October 24) we didn’t wake up until the second half.”
The majority of play was in Farmington’s end as the Falcons put 13 shots on junior goalie Katie Gombos. Avon had 13 penalty corner attempts, including eight in the second half.
“I thought we played pretty intense the entire game,” Ziemnicki said. “We executed (our plays) pretty much how we wanted to. We played smarter and tougher this time.”
Junior Megan Gibley created many opportunities for the Falcons with her play in the middle of the field. Off a penalty corner attempt, she carried the ball into the circle to set up the game-winning play.
Her initial shot on net was stopped by Gombos but it wasn’t cleared. The crease around the net was crowded with Gombos, her Farmington teammates and Avon’s Emma Volo, Serenta Statas and Marissa Blaha.
But the Falcons didn’t stop and kept attacking the ball until it slipped behind Gombos and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Farmington had their chances but not as many. Avon’s sophomore goalie Katrina Frez stopped seven shots, including a nice kick save with 8:42 remaining to preserve the lead. She earned her first shutout win of the season.
Farmington’s Karen Ru had two nice passes across the crease in the final 10 minutes but no teammate could get a stick on the ball to get a shot on net.
“Their confidence is growing but it’s slow,” Ziemnicki said of her team that has a healthy group of underclassmen in the starting lineup. “I tell them they are like a pot of soup. You can’t just throw all of the vegetables in and think it is soup. You have to let it simmer. We’ve been in the simmer stage.”
There is little time to rest with a game against Guilford, ranked No. 2 in the latest state coaches top 10 field hockey poll.
“On any given day, any team can win,” Ziemnicki said regarding the challenge of facing the undefeated Indians. “I am just telling the girls to be the hardest workers out there and play smart. We will have to take advantage of any opportunities we get.”
NOTES: The rivalry between the two programs dates back to 1969 when the Falcons first fielded a team but it was just the second-ever CIAC tournament game between the long-time rivals. Avon won the first playoff meeting in 2015 with a 2-1 victory in overtime. .. Volo has scored two goals this year. Avon’s leading scorer is Gilbey with seven goals, including two in the 3-2 loss to Farmington on October 24. … Avon is one of four schools to have qualified for the CIAC tournament every season since it began in 1973. Greenwich, New Canaan and Cheshire have also qualified to play in all 47 state tournaments.
Avon 1, Farmington 0
Farmington (6-10-0-1) 0 0 — 0
Avon (6-7-2-2) 0 1 — 1
Goals: Emma Volo (A); Assist: Serenta Statas (A); Saves: Katrina Frez (A) 7, Katie Gombos (F) 12; Penalty corners: Avon, 13-3