BURLINGTON >> Class S No. 1 seed Lewis Mills beat No. 17 Canton 1-0 Tuesday afternoon in a first-round CIAC tournament game that showed how hard it can be to score in field hockey.
The Spartans dominated in all the numbers but one – 16-2 in shots; 17-4 in penalty corners.
Canton goalkeeper Natalie Nardello had 15 saves.
“We didn’t score as many goals as we wanted to. We came in with the mindset that we were the underdogs,” said senior midfielder Sadie Robinson. “They played tough.”
“We played as hard as we could,” said left wing Karlie Neuhauser, who teamed with Ally Jackson for the game’s only goal eight minutes from the end of the first half.
“Team dynamics are always different in the post season,” said Spartan coach Maggie Tieman, blaming nerves for the lack of scoring touches by a team that rang up 54 goals in its 15-0 regular season.
“History doesn’t know the next win,” Tieman said.
“It was a great game,” said Canton coach Margaret Bristol, whose team beat No. 16 Valley Regional 2-0 Monday in a play-in game.
“We played hard; they had a great defense,” said Bristol.
“Our defense was the cornerstone of our win,” said Tieman, citing Kelly Winterbottom, Andie Stone and Emma Kryzanski for their efforts in limiting the Warriors’ trips downfield.
Canton got the game’s first penalty corner a minute into the game. After that, Mills took over.
Eighteen minutes in, the Spartans knocked on the door three times in a row on penalty corners.
Four minutes later, Jackson and Neuhauser connected.
“It was picture perfect,” said Tieman. “It comes from lots and lots of practice in knowing where your teammate is going to be, then making a great shot into the left corner.”
“We don’t work as players but teammates,” said Neuhauser. “It’s not the shot, but what leads up to it.”
Or, in this case, what follows it.
With a 1-0 advantage, Mills defense allowed Canton one more brief foray through 27 minutes of the second half while the offense pounded 10 more shots at Nardello.
Coach Bristol called a time out three minutes from the end. The Warriors charged through to a penalty corner.
Mills’ defense was on hand to make sure the game was over.
The Spartans host Berkshire League rival Thomaston Thursday, 2 p.m. The No. 9 seed Golden Bears (10-5-1-1) beat No. 8 Northwest Catholic 1-0 Tuesday.
Mills beat Thomaston 1-0 in September, then 5-2 two weeks ago.
“My girls are excited about playing Thomaston again,” said Coach Tieman. “We’d rather play someone we know than someone we don’t know.”
No. 1 Lewis Mills 1, No. 17 Canton 0
At Lewis Mills High School
Canton 0 0 – 0
Lewis Mills 1 0 – 1
Goal: LM – Karlie Neuhauser. Assist: LM – Ally Jackson. Shots: 16-2 Lewis Mills. Saves: C – Natalie Nardello 15. LM – Jillian Mazon 2. Penalty corners: 17-4 Lewis Mills.
Records: Canton 7-9-0-1; Lewis Mills 16-0.