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Northwest Catholic surges past Canton into the Class S final

Canton’s Ryan Weller gets prepared to score in Wednesday’s Class S semifinal against Northwest Catholic in Tolland. More game photos

TOLLAND, June 8, 2022 – It looked as if the tide had turned.

The Canton High boys lacrosse trailed by two goals at halftime against No. 7 Northwest Catholic but played a solid quarter of shutout lacrosse in the third period to take a one-goal lead. It looked like the Warriors were 10 minutes away from their first-ever appearance in a state championship game.

But the Lions scored the final four goals of the game and shutout No. 5 Canton over the final seven minutes to advance to the finals for the first time ever with a 14-10 win in Wednesday’s Class S semifinal contest at Tolland High.

Canton (14-5) outscored the Lions by a 3-0 score in the third quarter with Weller scoring twice to give the Warriors an 8-7 lead.

But Northwest Catholic (17-4) scored three unanswered goals to grab a 10-8 advantage with 8:35 remaining in regulation. Brady Brennan scored on a one-hop goal into the net and Cameron Barone popped in his only goal of the contest for a two-goal lead.

Again, Canton rallied with two goals in the span of 30 seconds from Weller and Mark Freedenberg in front of the net to tie the game at 10-10 with 7:14 remaining.

Thirty seconds later, the Lions won the faceoff at mid field and Connor Murphy found himself standing in front of the net to give Northwest Catholic the lead for good, 11-10, with 6:42 remaining. Lion teammate Patrick Meuser added in another goal with 5:39 left to increase the lead to two.

Northwest Catholic’s John Staunton (21) puts the pressure on Canton’s Mason Buckley in Wednesday’s Class S semifinal in Tolland. More game photos

Northwest Catholic goalie Hunter Wilcox (12 saves) made some big stops down the stretch to keep his team in control of the contest.

The backbreaker came when Cameron Burke literally ran the length of the field before dishing off to Brennan, who scored with 3:57 remaining to give Northwest Catholic a three-goal lead, 13-10.

“We were fortunate enough to have the last run today,” said Northwest Catholic coach Scott Kossbiel, who coached at Avon High for seven seasons, getting as far as the Class M semifinals in 2012. “It was a team effort. They all did it. They had poise and stuck with it.”

Meuser and John Staunton had three goals each for the Lions while Michael Kuziak and Brennan had two each.

Weller had three goals and four assists for Canton while Mason Buckley had three goals. Freedenberg had three goals and an assist.

“This is a sad moment, but we were all in this together,” Canton High coach Chris Weller said. “In the end, we move on. They played a great game. They had a great season. NCCC champs. They won (14) games in the season. We’ve done a lot of great things that our program has never seen before.”

The Warriors won their first NCCC title this spring and won their first-ever CIAC state tournament game last week.

Added Weller, “It’s a game we could’ve won. It is a a game they did win. Both teams played great. They had a better fourth quarter than we did.”

Northwest Catholic will face No. 5 Weston in Sunday’s Class S championship game at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield beginning at 10 a.m.

Canton’s Mark Freedenberg celebrates after scoring a goal during Wednesday’s Class S semifinal in Tolland. More game photos

Northwest Catholic 14, Canton 10
At Tolland
NW Catholic (17-4)    3  4  0  7  — 14
Canton (14-5)              2  3  3  2  — 10
Goals: NWC –  Patrick Meuser 3, John Staunton 3, Michael Kuziak 2, Brady Brennan 2, James Hurley, Connor Murphy, Elliot Halpern, Cameron Barone; Canton – Ryan Weller 3, Mason Buckley 3, Mark Freedenberg 3, Ryker Bahre; Assists: NWC — Hunter Wilcox 2, Cameron Barone; Canton – Weller 4, Jake Bunnell 2, Freedenberg; Saves – Niko Giotsas (C) 10, Hunter Wilcox (NWC) 12

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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