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Goal in final 18 seconds lifts Canton past Wethersfield and into first place – The Collinsville Press
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Goal in final 18 seconds lifts Canton past Wethersfield and into first place

Canton’s Griffin Weller (22) scored with 18.5 seconds left in regulation to lift the Warriors to a 14-13 win over Wethersfield Thursday.

CANTON, May 13, 2021 – Canton senior Griffin Weller called it an ugly win. His father, head coach Chris Weller, said the Warriors were a bit lucky.

Perhaps. But the Canton High boys lacrosse team found a way to win Thursday afternoon to assume sole possession of first place in the Central Connecticut Conference South.

The Warriors erased a two-goal deficit with 5:34 remaining and took the lead on a goal from Griffin Weller with 18.5 seconds remaining to beat Wethersfield, 14-13 at the turf field.

Canton (10-1, 5-0 CCC South) is the only undefeated team left in the conference. By scoring three of the four goals in the final 5:34 of the game, the Warriors handed Wethersfield (9-1, 7-1) their first loss of the season.

“We didn’t play our best game,” Griffin Weller said. “We were a little sloppy passing and catching but we were able to finish it out.” Griffin Weller led the Warriors with seven points in the game thanks to three goals and four assists. His younger brother, Ryan, had a team-leading five goals and one assist.

Canton goalie Niko Giotsas made nine saves in net to earn the win.

“That was a good team (Wethersfield),” Chris Weller said. “They were undefeated and they came in with some confidence. We had a little bit of hangover from beating Somers on Tuesday night and it showed. Our intensity was down a bit.”

Canton beat Somers for the first time in program history on Tuesday night with a 12-10 victory. It was the first win for the Warriors in 17 games against the Spartans, who have won or shared five of the last six NCCC championships.

“We were on a high and sometimes teams coming off a high don’t perform as well as they did in the previous game,” Chris Weller said. “But we put it back together in the fourth quarter.”

Canton’s Braden Humphrey (19) carries the ball upfield in Thursday’s win over Wethersfield.

Canton led throughout most of the game. They had a 4-2 lead after one quarter and a 7-4 lead at the half. After three quarters, the Warriors led 10-9. But the visiting Eagles scored three straight fourth quarter goals to take a 12-10 lead with 5:34 remaining in the game.

Less than 30 seconds after Wethersfield scored, the Warriors won the faceoff, controlled the ball and it was Griffin Weller with a goal with 5:03 left to cut the lead to one, 12-11.

Canton’s Mark Freedenberg tied the game at 12-12, taking a great pass from Griffin Weller, who was behind the net. Freedenberg was wide open in front of the net and scored with 4:42 remaining.

Wethersfield took a 13-12 lead with 3:37 left on a goalie from Ethan Rochelau but it was Freedenberg with his second goal of the quarter that tied the game at 13-13 with 2:54 remaining.

The Eagles won the faceoff and tried to run down the clock. The Eagles were wide on a shot with 1:03 left but retained the ball. However, the Eagles were called for an illegal screen with 48 seconds left to give Canton the ball.

“I was just trying to get a shot off,” Griffin Weller said. “Once I found some open space, I found the back of the net. I don’t really know what happened but it happened.”

Wethersfield’s Ethan Rocheleau (33) celebrates after scoring a fourth quarter goal while Canton defenseman Noah St. Denis lets out some frustration.

Ryker Bahre had two goals for the Warriors along with Freedenberg. Chris Gottlieb and Jake Bonnell also scored for Canton. Wil Bankowski led the Eagles with four goals and an assist while Ethan Rochelau, Aaron Cholewa, Rory Stickley and Kevin Avery had two goals each.

The Warriors return to action on Saturday when they host E.O. Smith in another CCC South contest at 10 a.m. on the turf field. Canton has five games left in the regular season and four more contests in the CCC South.

Canton 14, Wethersfield 13
At Canton
Wethersfield (9-1)            2  2  5  4  — 13
Canton (10-1)                    4  3  3  4  — 14
Goals: Canton – Ryan Weller 5, Griffin Weller 3, Ryker Bahre 2, Mark Freedenberg 2, Chris Gottlieb, Jake Bonnell; Wethersfield – Wil Bankowski 4, Ethan Rocheleau 2, Rory Stickley 2, Aaron Cholewa 2, Kevin Avery 2, Spencer Bartone; Assists: Canton – G. Weller 4, R. Weller, Bahre, Will Walburger, Luke DeRitis; Wethersfield – Bankowski, Stickley, Bartone, Tanner Healy; Saves: Canton – Niko Giotsas 9, Wethersfield – Moreau 8

CCC South boys lacrosse

Team Div. Overall
Canton 5-0 10-1
Wethersfield 7-1 9-1
Lewis Mills 5-1 6-4
Bristol co-op 3-2 4-2
Tolland 2-2 3-3
Enfield 2-3 4-3
Suffield/Windsor Locks 2-5 3-7
Middletown 1-7 1-7
E.O. Smith 0-4 0-4
Rockville/Cov/Stafford 0-7 0-9

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

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