CANTON, October 17, 2020 – In a pandemic-shortened high school soccer season, changes had to be made. To help the spread of the contagious COVID 19 virus, teams are limited to nearby rivals and there can be gaps in competitiveness.
The Canton High boys soccer team has played five games this fall. The Warriors, who were the top seed in last fall’s CIAC Class S tournament, were looking forward to 2020 with the return of an experienced team.
In three of the five games, Canton has scored at least six goals. In two games, the Warriors have scored seven times and long-time head coach Bill Phelps has put the brakes on his players to not run up the score.
But there was not the case on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon on the turf field outside Canton High. Canton was challenged by Granby, a team that the Warriors have struggled to beat throughout the years.
Granby put 21 shots on net Saturday but could only get one past Canton keeper Nicholas Morabito. At the other end of the field, Jackson Miner and Spencer Mix were able to score goals to lift the Warriors to a 2-1 win over the Bears in NCCC West group play.
It was the first win by Canton over Granby since 2015 and just the eighth win for the Warriors over the Bears since Canton joined the league in 1984.
“It was great,” Canton coach Bill Phelps said. “I’m glad we play in the NCCC so we have that competition and don’t just blow through teams. I would rather have a game like this – win or lose.”
Canton (4-1) had just seven shots on goal but it was enough.
Senior Jackson Miner scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season just four minutes into the game off an assist from fellow forward Spencer Mix for a 1-0 lead. Granby goalie James DeGray ccame out to challenge Miner, but the Canton forward tapped the ball off DeGray’s foot and got behind the goalie for an easy open net goal.
Granby tied the game at 1-1 when Will Calley’s shot from 20 yards away trickled in off the fingertips of a diving Morabito with 2:12 left in the fist half.
The Warriors grabbed the lead again when Mix scored a pretty goal with 29:17 remaining in the contest off an assist from teammate Loudon Abbott. From about 10 yards away, Mix extended his leg and fired a one-hop shot to the far post and into the net.
“There were two good teams (out there). They have guys who can finish (on the forward line),” Granby coach Michael McDermott said. “We controlled possession. Our completion rate was higher. We just didn’t get the ball into the back of the net. We had more opportunities but they have guys (Miner and Mix) at the top (of the lineup at forward) who can finish.”
Granby (4-1-1) pressured the Warriors throughout the game.
“Granby is a good team,” Phelps said. “For every player I have, they have two players because they are so big (as a school). But we handled them. We played them and under pressure, we stayed with it a lot better. We learned that from (losing to) to Suffield.”
Canton’s first loss of the season a 2-0 loss to Suffield on October 6. The Warriors rebounded with a 6-1 win over SMSA and a 7-0 shutout over HMTCA.
Only in the final two weeks before the season began on October 3 was the team allowed to begin practicing together. Before that, the team was separated into smaller cohort units to keep the COVID-19 coronavirus from spreading.
“Now that we are playing together, we are (beginning) to play a lot better, a lot smarter,” Phelps said. “I have some excellent, excellent people with a good touch on the ball.” It is resulting in some good shots, good scoring opportunities and goals.
The Warriors return to action on Monday when they travel to play East Granby for the first of two games next week. Canton closes out the week with a game at Windsor Locks on Friday.
Granby will challenge Suffield on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. in Granby. The two teams battled to a 0-0 tie on opening day. The game will be broadcast on the GranbyBearsLive You Tube channel unless it is raining.
NOTES: The two programs began playing soccer in 1984 when Canton joined the North Central Connecticut Conference. Before Saturday, Canton’s last win in the series was in 2015 and since then, the Bears had gone 6-0-1 against the Warriors. There was a 2-2 tie in the season opening contest in 2017. Granby owns a 44-8-10 advantage in the series. … The postseason experience will stay within the NCCC West group. The top four teams are scheduled to have a two-game post-season experience. … The game was rescheduled from Friday night due to the heavy rain on Friday.
Click on the following link to see a replay of the game as produced by the Granby Booster Club. https://youtu.be/xBEi9Ag2Xjs
Canton 2, Granby 1
Granby (4-1-1) 1 0 — 1
Canton (4-1) 1 1 — 2
Goals: Jackson Miner (Ca), Spencer Mix (Ca), Will Calley (G); Assists: Mix, Sean Dowd (G), London Abbott (Ca); Saves: Nicholas Morabito (Ca) 20, James DeGray (G) 6; Shots on goal: Granby 21-8
Two points for a win and one point for a tie|
Upcoming Canton games
Monday, Oct. 19: At East Granby, 3:45 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 23: At Windsor Locks
Tuesday, Oct. 27: SUFFIELD, 6 p.m.