Field hockey reclaims Davenport Division titleBy Jay Turner
After struggling with inconsistency at various points in the season, the CHS field hockey team was able to find its groove and will head into the south sectional tournament as one of the hottest teams around.
Last week, the Bulldogs reeled off four straight wins in five days — including a huge 2-1 victory over second-place Foxboro on senior night — to capture yet another Davenport Division title and finish at 12-1-4 overall.
In addition to the Foxboro win, the girls also knocked off Stoughton 1-0, Sharon 6-1, and nonleague Westwood 2-1 over three consecutive days last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Head coach Fior Griffin said the Bulldogs played well in all four contests — a remarkable accomplishment considering she mixed and matched lineups all week while also dealing with a variety of injuries and illnesses.
Against the Warriors on Tuesday, Griffin started all nine seniors and the team came out “fired up and ready to play.”
Senior Kellie O’Brien played most of the first half on defense and was recognized as one of the players of the game, while fellow senior Bethany Kelly had one of her best performances of the season, according to Griffin.
Also seeing playing time in the game were seniors Sam Sullivan, Kate O’Brien, Lauren Dipillo, Kelsey Nash, and Rachel McHugh, as well as senior captains Meghan McKenna and Ali Martin.
Canton’s first meeting with Foxboro had ended in a 1-1 draw, and the rematch proved to be another hard-fought battle as the two squads traded shots in a well-played first half.
Junior Kellie Stigas scored first for the Bulldogs, but the Warriors responded with a goal of their own to even the score at one apiece. Canton then stepped up its attack in the second half and eventually seized control on a game-winning goal from junior Katie Kelleher, assisted by McKenna.
“I think mentally they showed up ready to go,” said Griffin. “It was a really good game. Our forwards played great. People we regularly look to — Stigas, McKenna, Casey Considine — all stepped up and had big games. Our goalie, Emily Buckley, also played well and had some really nice saves.”
The next two games — at Stoughton and home versus Sharon — saw Griffin rely heavily on her reserves as she attempted to manage fatigue and avoid further injuries in advance of the tournament.
Sophomore Abby Mitcheroney started both games in net in place of Buckley, while Lindsey Nolte, who had missed some time due to injury, got to play major minutes and responded with a huge game against the Eagles, scoring two goals in a span of four minutes.
Other top performers for the Bulldogs included Kelleher, who scored in both games and also added a pair of assists; Stigas, who netted two goals against Sharon; and freshman Masha Smirnova, who added her first varsity goal. Considine, Mary McNeil, and Shannon Proctor each chipped in with one assist.
Canton then continued its strong play in the regular season finale at Westwood — a playoff-bound team that began the day with just two losses.
The Bulldogs started strong, jumping out to a 2-0 lead after just 10 minutes of play on goals by McNeil and Stigas.
“They came out and set the pace early on in the game,” said Griffin. “They had some really nice passing combinations and just some really smart play overall.”
The Canton defense was also outstanding in the victory, led by Martin, Considine, and Buckley, who made a number of key saves.
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