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Canton beats Ellington in OT to win NCCC Tournament championship

The Canton High girls lacrosse team celebrates after beating Ellington in overtime to win the NCCC Tournament Thursday. More photos

CANTON, May 26, 2022 – For years, the Canton High girls lacrosse team dominated the North Central Connecticut Conference. From 2016-19, the Warriors won four straight league championships, four consecutive NCCC Tournament titles and 35 straight games against NCCC opponents.

Those days are gone.

This spring, the Warriors won their last five conference games to tie Granby and Ellington for the league championship. All three teams went 8-2 in the league with the first three-way tie in league history for girls lacrosse.

In Thursday night’s NCCC Tournament championship game, Canton found themselves down by two goals on three occasions. They didn’t panic.

Canton didn’t give up a goal in the final 15:41 of the contest, tied the game with 4:18 remaining in regulation and got a goal from Gabby DelSanto with 1.7 seconds left in overtime to beat Ellington, 8-7, Thursday night.

It gave the Warriors a fifth straight NCCC Tournament championship but the first for most of these players. The 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a year ago, Canton played in Central Connecticut Conference along with the rest of the NCCC schools.

“We pushed through and made it work,” DelSanto said. “We worked together. Our goalie saved us (in overtime) when we didn’t win the draw.”

Canton’s Gabby DelSanto had three goals in Thursday’s OT win over Ellington, including the game-winning goal with 1.7 seconds left in OT. More photos

Before DelSanto won it for the Warriors, Canton had to survive an opportunity for Ellington to win the game. The Purple Knights (12-4) won the opening draw in the three-minute overtime period. When a foul was called in the circle surrounding the goal, Ellington was awarded a free position.

The team awarded the free position gets a player about 10 yards away from the goalie. The player gets a running start at the goal. Two defenders can collapse on the shooter but in most cases, the player with the ball takes a step and fires it on net. It is similar as a penalty kick in soccer.

Ellington’s Kaitlyn Boone lined up for the shot but Canton goalie Ava Dakin deflected the ball up and over the net with 2:04 left in overtime. The Warriors got possession and burned off time on the clock, trying for the last shot of the game.

“I was struggling on the high shots but it was great I got on that last one (from Boone),” Dakin said. “I hit it up (and over). It’s a bit of a guessing game and you look for their stick is going.”

DelSanto had the ball in the final 30 seconds, looking for an opening. She heard her teammates imploring her to go to the net with 10 seconds remaining. In traffic, she scored the game-winning goal with 1.7 seconds remaining.

“I faked out a defender and went (into) top right (corner of the net),” DelSanto said. “There was a lot of pressure but ….”

It was the first girls NCCC Tournament championship game to go to overtime.

Canton’s Heather Delbone brings the ball upfield in Thursday’s NCCC Tournament game against Ellington. More photos.

“Games like this help teams,” Canton coach Sean Cole said. “It’s better for the teams to get ready for the state tournament.”

DelSanto and teammate Ellie Bahre had three goals each with Mary DeRitis adding a goal and an assist and Avery Brown popping in a goal for the Warriors (13-5). Megan Johndrow had two goals for Ellington while Taylor Murphy, Katie Hurlbert, Anne Bocchino and Kelsey Harnols had one goal each.

Ellington led 4-2 at halftime before Canton tied the game early in the second half on consecutive goals from Bahre and DelSanto in the span of 43 seconds. But Ellington scored a pair of goals in 59 seconds to push the lead back to two goals, 6-4.

Bahre’s goal cut the lead to one but Hurlbert scored with 12:41 remaining to push Ellington’s lead back to two goals, 7-5. The Purple Knights didn’t score again.

Canton’s Avery Brown scored her only goal of the game off a free position play to cut the Ellington lead to one, 7-6 with 10:14 left in regulation.

With 4:18 remaining, DeRitis scored her first of the game with 4:18 left on a free position play to tie the game at 7-7.

Canton returns to action on Tuesday when they host No. 9 Bacon Academy in first round of the Class S tournament at 5 p.m. The Warriors were seeded eighth. The winner will likely face No. 1 Weston in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Canton 8, Ellington 7, OT
At Canton

Canton (13-5)           2  5  1  — 8
Ellington (12-4)        4  3  0  — 7
Goals: Gabby DelSanto (C) 3, Ellie Bahre (C) 3, Mary DeRitis (C), Avery Brown (C), Taylor Murphy (El), Megan Johndrow (E) 2, Katie Hurlbert (E), Anna Bocchino (E), Kelsey Harnols (E) 2; Assists: DeRitis (C), Hannah Kozik (E); Saves: Ava Dakin (C) 6, Allison Kozik (E) 7

2022 NCCC Tournament
Tuesday, May 24
Canton 10, Granby 2
Thursday, May 26
Canton 8, Ellington 7, OT

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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