By Gerry deSimas Jr.
CANTON >> Nearly a week had gone by but the buzz and excitement was still making its way through the hallways at Canton High. The source was the victory by the Canton football team on the final play of the game to beat Avon for the first time, 16-13.
First-year field hockey coach Margaret Bristol, a physical education teacher in the school, could see the excitement. “People are still talking about it,” she said a week later.
You can add her field hockey team to the chatter around town. Canton, which won just two of 13 games and scored just nine goals in the entire season, earned its first win of the season about 10 days ago with a stunning 1-0 decision over Avon, the two-time defending NCCC champion.
Senior Kylie Delos scored her third goal of the season on a penalty stroke with 6:56 remaining in the game. Sophomore goalie Natalie Nardello made 10 stops in net to earn the shutout as the Warriors beat Avon for the first time since 2007. The host Falcons had gone 9-0-1 against Canton since that time with five shutout victories.
“We were riding the wave that the football team set the week before,” Bristol said. “I think that set the tone for us.”
Canton played well defensively, limiting Avon’s shots on goals. The Falcons had 15 penalty corners but had a tough time getting shots on the net. Canton’s Deirdre Kronschnabel was excellent on defense breaking up Avon penalty corners. Junior Maggie Bidwell and sophomore Sarah First played well with Kronschnabel.
Since that game, Canton (1-3-1, 1-2-1) dropped a 2-0 decision to Granby under the lights but battled to a 1-1 overtime tie with Enfield. They’ve already scored six goals this season. Delos, the center midfielder for the Warriors, has three goals, including a pair of penalty strokes, while freshman Erika Nedderman and sophomore Kaelyn Oliver have scored the other two goals.
“Their confidence is a little bit better,” Bristol said. “They’re a group of hard working girls.We gave the girls goals to focus on and things they needed to improve on such as marking up in the circle and keeping your sticks down.”
There are just 22 girls in the Canton High program – not enough to field a junior varsity team. The Warriors have fives seniors, three juniors, six sophomores and seven freshman in the program. Two freshmen start.
Canton opened the season with a 4-2 loss to defending Class S champion Haddam Killingworth on the road as Hall of Fame coach Patsy Kamerica won her 400th career game. Nedderman and Delos (stroke) had the goals for Canton. In game two, Canton dropped a 4-2 decision to Suffield on their artificial turf field. Oliver scored in the first 30 seconds and Delos scored off a penalty corner but the Wildcats rallied for the win.
Next Friday, the Warriors will host Westbrook at the school as part of the alumni weekend celebration. The alumni field hockey game is next Saturday, Oct. 5 at 10:30 a.m.