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Happy to be playing, Avon blanks Canton to advance to CCC Region B final – The Collinsville Press
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Happy to be playing, Avon blanks Canton to advance to CCC Region B final

Canton’s Kylie Wishneski and Avon’s Meg Gilbey try to control the ball during Wednesday’s CCC Region B playoff game in Avon. The Falcons won, 3-0. More game photos

AVON, Nov. 10, 2020 – In a normal scholastic season, high school teams playing on a warm November afternoon would be competing for a state championship in a pressure-filled, single-elimination tournament contest.

But there has been little about 2020 that has been normal thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept across the planet and is currently burning across the United States.

Still, there was a sense of thankfulness after Avon (12-1) moved into the CCC Region B title game with a 3-0 win over Canton in the semifinals Wednesday afternoon on the turf field outside of the high school.

Avon will face Granby (11-2) in the championship game. One school official didn’t call it a final. It’s just a mini tournament.

“We are blessed that we have a season,” Avon High coach Terri Ziemnicki said. “I am blessed in how our team has come together. I am blessed that field hockey is still playing. We’ve endured a lot of adversity as have all of the other schools when it comes to COVID. We’re just grateful.”

Canton coach Margaret Bristol had similar thoughts. “We’re just happy to be here,” she said. “I think they (players) feel fortunate they were able to get the season in. We’re very happy just to be playing.”

Playing sports during a pandemic isn’t easy nor is it a given. Football didn’t get to play at all and volleyball players had to wear masks to play. Soccer, field hockey and cross country played limited schedules against regional competition to minimize travel and the spread of any potential COVID-19 cases.

Canton boys soccer coach Bill Phelps missed Tuesday’s game because he is in quarantine after a positive COVID-19 test by a person at a Canton elementary school and there have been several Avon High athletes who have been forced to quarantine  and miss games due to contact tracing after a positive COVID-19 test by a student or staff member.

Lest we forget the entire spring season was eliminated and the end of last winter’s basketball and hockey tournaments was eliminated due to the pandemic.

Avon’s Haylie Thompson winds up to take a shot on Canton goalie Sadie Barker (00) in Wednesday’s CCC Region B playoff contest in Avon. Barker had a season-high 26 saves. More game photos

With an experienced team of seniors, Avon had dreams of playing for a state championship this season. But they will settle for battling with old NCCC rival Granby, Simsbury, Farmington, Canton and Southington.

The Falcons have won 12 of 13 games and have shut out their opponents eight times.

“I think we have a great passing game and we have great senior leadership,” Ziemnicki said. “We step up when we compete.”

Avon took the lead early in this contest with Kerry Karlin scoring her fourth goal of the season just two minutes into the contes. But while the Falcons peppered Canton goalie Sadie Barker with shots, Barker was able to hold the Falcons at bay through three quarters.

Barker made a season-high 26 saves and Avon led just 1-0 after three quarters.

But a pair of goals in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons some breathing room. “We got a little frustrated at times but we played awesome in the fourth quarter,” Ziemnicki said. “We had so many shots and chances. It’s not like the changes were not there.”

Avon made it 2-0 early in the fourth quarter when Meg Gilbey, Avon’s leading scorer, took the ball down to the end line, turned to her left and moved upfield toward the goal. Just before reaching Barker and the goal, Gilbey fired a pass across the front of the goal mouth that Fontanella tapped in for her 10th  goal of the season.

Canton’s Jess Osmum and Avon’s Olivia Brown bear down on the ball during Wednesday’s CCC Region B contest in Avon. More game photos

Gilbey scored her team-leading 13th goal of the season with 2:57 left in the game from the top of a circle on a penalty corner. She took the pass from Karlin and ripped it through the circle for a 3-0 lead.

Through 13 games, Gilbey has a 13 goals and leads the team in assists with 13.

Avon goalie Katrina Frez made two saves in net to secure the shutout.

Canton (6-7) has now lost to Avon three times this season along with a pair of losses to Simsbury and NCCC rival Granby. The Warriors did beat Southington and Farmington twice.

Bristol said a tougher schedule has forced the team to play better. “We have really risen to the occasion in a lot of games,” she said. “They’ve worked hard in practice and apply what they are learning in practice in the game.”

Canton came into the game on a two-game winning streak with a 4-0 win over Southington and a 3-0 win over Farmington. Leightyn Antarsh, Mary DeRitis and Callie Riley scored against the Indians while Antarsh, Riley and Gabby DelSantos (two goals) had scores against Southington.

Avon 3, Canton 0
At Avon
Canton (6-7)               0  0  0  0  — 0
Avon (12-1)                 1  0  0  2  — 3
Goals: Megan Gilbey (A), Kali Fontanella (A), Kerry Karlin (A); Assists: Gilbey (A) 2, Karlin (A); Saves: Katrina Frez (A) 2, Sadie Barker (Ca) 26; Penalty corners: Avon 4-2

Central Connecticut Conference Region B
Championship pool
Tuesday, Nov. 10
Granby 2, Simsbury 0
Wednesday, Nov. 11
Avon 3, Canton 0
Friday, Nov. 13
 Granby at Avon, 2:30 p.m.
Third place: Canton at Simsbury

Round robin pool
Monday, Nov. 9
Farmington 4, Lewis Mills 0
Wednesday, Nov. 11
Farmington at Southington, cancelled
Friday, Nov. 13
Lewis Mills at Southington, cancelled

2020 CCC Region B field hockey

Team GP W-L-T-OL Pts.
Avon 12 11-1 22
Granby 12 10-2 20
Simsbury 12 8-4 16
Canton 12 6-6 12
Farmington 12 3-8-1-1 8
Lewis Mills 12 2-9-1 5
Southington 12 0-10-2-1 3
Two points for a win and one point for a tie or an overtime loss.

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

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