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Undefeated Canton tops Stonington to earn spot in Class S title game

Canton senior Ellie Bahre, left, battles during Tuesday night’s Class S semifinal game against Stonington. The Warriors won, 1-0.

WETHERSFIELD, Nov. 14, 2023 – The success of the Canton High field hockey program is no secret. Members of the Warriors don’t have to look any farther than the wall of school gym where they can see a banner with the years of the eight Canton field hockey teams that won state championships.

For the players on this team, they are stories they have heard from others. None of those championships occurred in their lifetimes. The last championship for the Warriors came in 1999. The last time Canton played for a state title was in 2007 – 16 years ago.

This fall’s edition of the Warriors are writing their own story and have earned their own opportunity to win a state championship.

Canton, the No. 2 seed, won their 19th straight game Tuesday night with a 1-0 decision over No. 6 Stonington at Wethersfield High to advance to the Class S championship. Canton (19-0) will face two-time defending champion North Branford (21-0) on Saturday at Wethersfield at a time to be announced.

Canton gained a measure of revenge over the Bears, who eliminated the Warriors in last year’s Class S semifinal on this same field on penalty strokes in a snow-covered field.

“We didn’t want (to win in) overtime. We didn’t want (penalty) strokes. We wanted to do it in regulation,” Canton forward Ellie Bahre said. “It’s amazing to be in the final. We’re so excited.”

Bahre, Canton’s leading scorer with 20 goals, was the focus of the Stonington defense for much of the contest. But she broke free in the third quarter to get a crossing pass to sophomore Paige Sidrane, who rapped in the ball at the far post for the game-winner with 11:21 remaining in the third quarter.

“I’ve been working a lot on keeping my stick down and it has been a struggle,“ Sidrane said. “Sometimes I miss the ball. I looked at the ball (coming across the crease) and said this ball is going to go it and I hit it and it went in.”

Canton’s Bridget Sonju (22, left) used her speed to bring the ball up the sideline several times in Tuesday night’s Class S semifinal against Stonington.

Stonington coach Jenna Tucchio said her Bears wanted to keep the ball off Bahre’s stick.

“We knew No. 4 (Bahre) was their go-to girl,” Tucchio said. “For the most part, we contained but once she got the ball, she was off to the races. Once she got the ball, she made something happen.”

Canton’s defense played well, minimizing the opportunities for the Bears. Stonington (16-3-1) had their chances but goalie Lyla O’Connor made two saves to earn her 11th shutout of the season. It was the first time that Stonington had been shutout this season.

“It just didn’t fall for us tonight,” Tucchio said. “What are you going to do? That is the way the ball bounces. Sometimes, you connect and sometimes you don’t.”

Canton coach Margaret Bristol is going to her first state championship as a coach. She won a state title as a player with Farmington in 1995.

“I am so proud of this team,” she said. “They have really given everything they have when they step on this field. They deserve to be in the finals. What an incredible season.”

Canton will be playing in the state championship game for the 14th time. The Warriors improve to 4-1 against Stonington in the CIAC tournament. The Bears won the Eastern Connecticut Conference title and ECC Tournament this season.

The Warriors celebrate their first trip to the state championship game since 2007.

Canton 1, Stonington 0
At Wethersfield

Stonington (16-3-1)     0  0  0  0   – 0
Canton (19-0)               0  0  1  0  — 1
Goal: Paige Sidrane (C); Assist: Ellie Bahre (C); Saves: Lyla O’Connor (C) 2, Emma Plew (S) 4; Penalty corners: Stonington 3, Canton 3

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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