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Canton erases three-goal deficit to beat Ellington to win NCCC Tournament crown

The Warriors celebrate with Mary Deritis after a second period goal in Wednesday’s NCCC Tournament championship game.

SUFFIELD, May 24, 2023 – The opening was there for the Ellington High girl lacrosse team.

The Purple Knights and league champion Canton both had played three consecutive days and when the Purple Knights scored the first two goals of the second half, it gave them a three-goal lead with a little more than 18 minutes remaining in the game.

But the Warriors outscored Ellington 6-1 in the final 18 minutes to erase a three-goal deficit and beat the Purple Knights, 9-6 for their sixth straight NCCC (North Central Connecticut Conference) tournament championship Wednesday night at Suffield High.

Gabby Delsanto led the Warriors (14-4) with three goals and four assists including three goals in the final 16 minutes of the game. Ellie Bahre had three goals and Mary Deritis had two goals as Canton beat Ellington for the second time in three days. The Warriors topped Ellington, 12-8 on Monday in the final regular season game of the year.

“It took a little bit of something to get the juices flowing and the blood pumping,” Canton High coach Sean Cole said.

What helped was facing a three-goal deficit. Ellington (12-6) took a 5-2 lead with 18:43 remaining in the game after Katie Hurlbert’s second goal of the contest. Canton called timeout and began to make plays.

It began with controlling the draw off the faceoff at center field. In the first half, Ellington was quite successful burning minutes off the clock and finding a way to get the ball past Warrior goalie Ava Dakin. The Purple Knights led 3-2 at halftime.

A goal from Bahre cut the Ellington to two goals and a little over a minute later, the lead was reduced to one on a goal from Delsanto. “It’s a game again,” one coach said on the sideline after the score.

Kaitlyn Boone scored her fourth goal of the game to give Ellington a 6-4 lead with 13:36 remaining.

Canton defends against Ellington’s Kaitlyn Boone during Wednesday’s NCCC Tournament final in Suffield.

But Canton kept winning draws to control the ball. Once, they were awarded the draw after Ellington was penalized for a push when the Warriors scored a goal.

Detritis scored with 10:33 to cut the lead to one followed by a pair of goals from Delsanto to give Canton the lead at 7-6. Bahre scored in traffic off a nice feed from Delsanto with 5:53 remaining to extend Canton’s lead to 8-6.

Ellington was bogged down by penalties in the final five minutes of the game while the Warriors expertly passed the ball around the field to run out the clock. Deritis scored with 44.5 seconds left to ice the contest.

“The adrenalin picked up,” Bahre said. “There has been so much excitement with this team. It makes us happy and brings us together.”

Cole praised his defensive corps that gave up six goals to the Knights and just two goals against a solid Somers team in a 12-2 win on Tuesday night in the NCCC Tournament semifinals.

“They’re obviously a skilled team and we had already beaten them twice,” Canton defender Sophia Mates said. “We had to work with what we already know. It meant working together as a unit. That was probably the biggest thing. We really had to dig down deep and do it for the team.”

Heather Delbone scored a goal in the game, the 100th goal of her career.

Canton’s Heather Delbone (21) scored her 100th career goal during Wednsday night’s win over Ellington in the NCCC Tournament fnial

A year ago, the Warriors were in a three-way for the conference title and beat Ellington in overtime to win the conference tournament.

This year, Canton was the regular season champion with a 9-1 record and the league tournament victory was their sixth straight dating back to 2016. There was no tournament in 2021 and no season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We talked about validating the conference (championship) by winning this tournament,” Cole said. “We didn’t want to share. We wanted to win it outright.”

Canton 9, Ellington 6
At Suffield

Ellington (12-6)     3  3   — 6
Canton (14-4)        2  7  — 9
Goals: Gabby Delsanto (C) 3, Heather Delbone (C), Ellie Bahre (C) 3, Mary Deritis (C) 2, Kaitlyn Boone (Ell) 4, Katie Hurlburt (Ell) 2; Assists: Delsanto 4, Kelsey Harnois (Ell), Hurlbert 2; Saves: Ava Dakin (C) 5, Nora Miller (Ell) 6

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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