By Kim J. Harmon
By Kim J. Harmon
In the biggest game of her life, Kerrie Canavan had the greatest game of her life.
The junior goaltender made 15 saves, earned Most Valuable Player honors, and guided her team to an 11-8 win over Joel Barlow in the South-West Conference Division I championship game Tuesday night at Pomperaug High School in Southbury.
âI wasnât too nervous and I didnât want to get too hyped up,â said Canavan. âI know Iâm a good goalie and I worked hard for this. It came from the heart.â
It is the second SWC championship for the girlsâ lacrosse team and the first under head coach Maura Fletcher, who took over the reigns this year from departed head coach Sara Strait (who was on hand to watch the game and cheer on her former players).
Casey Frobey scored four goals and Rachel Maley added three more with an assist to lead the offensive charge. The âHawks dropped a 13-12 decision to Barlow last year in the SWC championship and followed up with an 8-5 loss back on April 12.
âEver since we knew we were in the finals with Barlow we were psyched,â said Maley, a sophomore. âI donât think we were ready to play them the first time.â
The Lady Nighthawks were ready this time.
Maley scored the first goal less than four minutes into the game, taking a pass from Frobey and firing a low shot to the opposite post.
The âHawks controlled the flow of the game and dominated possession and while it took them five minutes to score the next goal, the next four followed in rapid succession â at 16:15 (Kate Sudby from Karli Beitel), 14:30 (Frobey), 12:36 (Frobey from Maley) and 10:49 (Maley).
When the Lady Falcons finally called timeout, the âHawks were on top 5-0.
Canavan made such a run possible with a couple of key stops on some tough shots.
âHer greatest asset is her willingness to work and improve,â said assistant coach Mark Feltch, who has worked hard this year in developing the young goaltender. âShe is always looking to get better, her effort is superior and she has a terrific attitude.â
The Falcons finally broke through for their first goal, though, but Canavan â after that goal seemed to perk the Falcons up â made two big saves to keep the Newtown advantage from shrinking. Then with 2:28 left in the first half, Moira Collier grabbed a pass from Maley and flipped a shot into the cage for a 6-1 Newtown lead.
The Falcons trimmed the lead back to four goals, though, with 1:34 left in the half.
Just 1:18 into the second half, Jen Greenwood took a pass on the run and beat the Barlow defense down to the cage for the goal. The Falcons answered back with a pair of quick goals (at 18:16 and 17:58).
âI was a little scared (about the quick rally),â said Maley, âbut we stopped and thought about what we had to do.â
The âHawks recovered and scored three goals of their own at 13:34 (Frobey), 10:24 (Beitel to Libby Feltch) and 8:55 (Frobey) to put Newtown on top 10-4.
Barlow was insistent and kept going after the Newtown defense and even though the Falcons popped in a pair of goals at 8:04 and 6:29 and then again at 4:44 and 4:22, a goal by Maley at 5:35 stemmed the tide while the defensive efforts of players like Erica Vacaro, Tara Gaston and Kim Solheim made a tremendous difference and kept Barlow from taking over the game in the waning moments.
But Canavanâs presence had, perhaps, the biggest impact of all. As the majority of goaltenders around the South-West Conference stay within their circle, Canavan has become adept at ranging from her post and helping to lead the offensive movement down the field.
âShe is a terrific athlete,â said coach Feltch, âand we decided right from the beginning we could have her come out of the goal whenever she could. It wouldnât be 7v7, but 7v8. She is a dedicated player at a dedicated position.â
And she did her part in leading the âHawks to the South-West Conference championship.
Now, with a 12-4 mark, the locals (ranked 11th) will visit Daniel Hand of Madison (ranked 6th) on Saturday, June 4, at 7 pm in the first round of the CIAC Division I state tournament. Should the girls win there, they will meet up with No. 3 Greenwich (or Guilford or New Canaan, should one of those qualifying teams somehow knock off the Cardinals) on Tuesday, June 7.
Newtown 11, Joel Barlow 8
GOALS: Newtown â Casey Frobey 4, Rachel Maley 3, Kate Sudby, Moira Collier, Jen Greenwood, Libby Feltch; Joel Barlow â Brittany Butler 2, Ashley Scavo 2, Emily Ripley 2, Jennifer Grant, Alisen Urquhart. ASSISTS: Newtown â Karli Beitel 3, Frobey 2, Maley, Collier; Joel Barlow â Lindsay Buzaid 2. SAVES: Newtown â Kerrie Canavan 15; Joel Barlow â Shannon Caruso 4.
Newtown 3, Lauralton Hall 0
Masuk 2, Newtown 1
Even though the South-West Conference championship eluded them â and even though the 2005 season itself came to an end in the CIAC Class LL tournament â the Newtown High School softball team can still hang its hat on one of its most significant wins ever.
The Lady Nighthawks vanquished undefeated Lauralton Hall, 3-0, in the SWC semifinals last week at DeLuca Field in Stratford â a Hall team that had allowed only three runs all season and a Hall team that had won 57 consecutive games dating back to June of 2003.
Forty-eight hours later, the âHawks were aiming for their first SWC championship.
âLetâs make (Lauralton Hall) count for something,â said head coach Jay Edwards right before the player introductions.
But the âHawks were stopped, 2-1, by archrival Masuk (also vying for its first SWC championship) and on Tuesday were eliminated from the CIAC Class LL state tournament with a 2-0 loss to Norwalk. The âHawks finished 14-10.
It was a rather abrupt ending, but still â¦
It was the top of the eighth inning and the score was even at 0-0. Kim Ovittore of Lauralton Hall had been mowing down Newtown batters left and right, striking out 16 in the first seven innings while allowing one scratch single to Kelly Tenney and an attempted sacrifice bunt by Lisa Alberico that â thanks her speed and the perfect placement of the bunt â turned into a single.
But in the top of the eighth, Lisa Morgan led off by reaching first on an error. Melissa Fracker â running for Morgan â languished at first, however, as Emily Blewett popped out on an attempted sacrifice bunt and Tenney was fanned by Ovittore.
Then with two outs and a runner idling at first, Joanna Barry blooped a single to leftfield and Meg LaFlamme followed with a lashing double to centerfield that scored Fracker and Barry and allowed her to reach third on the throw home.
Sam Ciaccia followed with a hard single that scored LaFlamme and put the âHawks ahead, 3-0.
âWe wanted to make history,â said LaFlamme. âWhen Joanna got her hit I thought â if she could do it, I could do it. I had a feeling tonight. I tripled off her during the season and I knew I could hit her. I wanted it so much.â
But the âHawks were well aware that Lauralton Hall could still pull off a rally â the Crusaders did exactly that three years ago, scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning in the SWC semifinals and rallying back from a 3-0 deficit.
Morgan â who scattered five hits and whiffed seven batters on the night â walked the leadoff hitter. A fielderâs choice grounder put the âHawks one out closer to the win, but then the Crusaders sent up the meat of their order.
It started with Ovittore (who was 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts), who dropped an infield single to put runners on first and second. A groundout back to the mound got another out, but runners had moved up to second and third with Jessica Horvath (1-for-3 on the night) stepping to the plate.
Yet with a pitch low and away, Morgan whiffed Horvath and gave the âHawks their most dramatic win ever.
âThere was a lot of relief,â said LaFlamme. âIt was amazing.â
And â who knows? â it may have never come to pass had the bottom of the seventh turned out just a little differently.
The Crusaders led off the frame with a single and after a sacrifice bunt pinch runner Lauren Bologna was sitting on second with one out. But Ally Kirk lashed a sinking liner to rightfield that had Bologna â thinking the ball would drop â sprinting off to third. But Alberico charged the ball and made the catch.
That led to a bizarre sequence.
Bologna was already on third and Alberico was still clutching the ball and just about everyone at DeLuca Field was screaming. Alberico tossed the ball into Morgan, who turned and threw the ball to second to try and double off the runner. But â inexplicably â the ball sailed high over the bag and into centerfield.
Instead of heading back to second, Bologna sprinted for home. Blewett retrieved the ball and sent it back to second for the out.
The threat was over â¦ and that opened the door for the âHawks in the eighth inning.
But the âHawks also benefited from three other tremendous defensive plays in the bottom of the sixth â Ciaccia catching a hard line drive off the bat of Ovittore; Christina Wolf making a putout at second on a throw from third baseman Jenna Van Waalwijk (a throw that was made well before Wolf had gotten in position); and LaFlamme making a great throw from deep in the hole at short to a stretching Ciaccia at first.
Except for the number of strikeouts (18), everything was working for the âHawks.
Not so 48 hours later.
The âHawks allowed a run in the bottom of the first, an unearned run in the bottom of the second, and whiffed 10 times against freshman pitcher Meggie Blozzon and dropped a 2-1 decision to Masuk in the SWC finals.
Blozzon got most of the credit (she was named the MVP of the SWC tournament), but centerfielder Alyssa Pagano and shortstop Brittany Nolan made two tremendous defensive plays â both off the bat of Newtown catcher Ashley Ferris â to preserve the win.
Nolan led off the bottom of the first with a single and eventually scored on a single to right by Kellye Caulfield to put Masuk on top, 1-0. In the bottom of the second, Caitlin Vicari lashed a one-out single to right, moved to third on a throwing error and scored on an infield single by Blozzon.
The Panthers collected just two hits the rest of the way, but didnât need them. The âHawks only scored once on a two-out single by Annie Grills in the top of the fifth.
The âHawks banged out seven hits on the afternoon and appeared to have something going in the top of the seventh, but a controversial call at second base eliminated a potential scoring threat and sent the âHawks home unhappy.
Tenney led off the frame with a hard single. Fracker â running for Tenney â rounded second on a sacrifice bunt by Grills and was caught sliding back to the bag. Coach Edwards was clamoring for an obstruction call, saying Nolanâs foot had prevented Fracker from reaching the bag, but the umpires saw it differently.
And so with two outs and the bases empty, LaFlamme lined out to first to end the game.
It was a disappointing ending to what had been an exciting and oddly disjointed week (the semifinal game was postponed twice and the final was postponed once) for the âHawks, but they still had at least one big, big win to proudly look back upon.
Bounced Out Of LL
Lisa Morgan allowed just two hits and took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, but Norwalk scratched out a couple of runs in the bottom of the sixth without getting the ball out of the infield and sent the âHawks home with a 2-0 loss.
The locals collected five hits, but were unable to reach Norwalk pitcher Alex Aloise and dropped to 14-10 on the season. Morgan â the all time strikeout leader at Newtown High â walked two and struck out 12 to close out her amazing high school career.
Masuk 2, Newtown 1
BATTERIES: Newtown â Lisa Morgan and Ashley Ferris; Masuk â Meggie Blozzon and Caitlyn Vicari. WP: Blozzon (16-6). LP: Morgan (14-9). SO: Morgan 2, Blozzon 10. BB: Morgan 1. 2B: Morgan (N). RBI: Newtown â Annie Grills; Masuk â Kellye Caulfield, Blozzon.
Newtown 3, Lauralton Hall 0
BATTERIES: Newtown â Lisa Morgan and Ashley Ferris; Lauralton Hall â Kim Ovittore and Tory Pennick. WP: Morgan (14-8). LP: Ovittore (21-1). SO: Morgan 8, Ovittore 18. BB: Morgan 3. 2B: Meg LaFlamme (N). RBI: Newtown â LaFlamme 2, Sam Ciaccia.
Norwalk 2, Newtown 0
BATTERIES: Newtown â Lisa Morgan and Ashley Ferris; Norwalk â Alex Aloise and Steph Kurose. WP: Aloise (18-6). LP: Morgan (14-10). SO: Morgan 12, Aloise 6. BB: Morgan 2. RBI: Norwalk â Jessica Bruno.
With Emily Fields and Jill Tanner facing some very tough competition at No. 1 doubles, it was up to Jenna Moser and Katie Serock to put the finishing touches on a wonderful South-West Conference season for the Newtown High School girlsâ tennis team.
And they did â defeating Kristin Hanczor and Sara Beitman of Joel Barlow 6-3, 6-4 to earn the third doubles championship at the South-West Conference Individual Tournament.
Moser and Serock suffered a three-set tiebreak loss to Hanczor and Randa Dreznick on May 11 but then defeated Hanczor and Sarah Sproviero in straight sets in the SWC team championship match on May 23.
And against another Joel Barlowâs third doubles iteration, Moser and Serock captured a title.
The locals cruised to a 6-3 first-set win and were on the verge of making it a quick match with a 5-2 lead in the second set, but Hanczor and Beitman rallied to win two straight games before Moser and Serock settled down.
âWe had a couple of bad games,â said Moser, âbut we were able to get it back together. We needed to focus on being more consistent and hitting the cross court shots.â
Down 40-30 in the 10th game of the second set, Serock made a ripped a nice volley to the back line to force deuce. Moser popped over a nice shot at the net to give the locals the ad and moments later put the match away with a cross-court shot off the edge of her racket.
It was not one of those shots heard âround the world, but it was effective.
On Court 1 at Joel Barlow, Fields and Tanner saw their dreams of an SWC title come to an end in a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Julia and Marta Jachowicz of Bethel. The duos met just once during the regular season with Fields and Tanner dropping a 6-0, 6-4 straight set decision.
The Lady Nighthawks finished the regular season at 15-1 overall, 13-1 in the SWC and defeated Lauralton Hall, 4-3, in the SWC team semi-finals. The No. 3 seeded Nighthawks opened the CIAC Class L team tournament on Tuesday with a 4-3 win over No. 14 seeded Mercy of Middletown and went on to face No. 6 seeded Greenwich on Wednesday afternoon.
SWC Championship Matches
SINGLES: 1. Lauren Holzberg (JB) def. Lauren Mackay (Immaculate) 6-0, 6-1; 2. Jennifer Holzberg (JB) def. Kaitlynn Cates (Pomperaug) 6-4, 6-3; 3. Meredith Earley (JB) def. Julienne Fenn (Masuk) 6-1, 6-1; 4. Jill Mackey (JB) def. Emily Broderick (Pomperaug) 6-2, 6-4. DOUBLES: 1. Julia Jachowicz/Marta Jachowicz (Bethel) def. Emily Fields/Jill Tanner (Newtown) 6-2, 6-1; 2. Christine Shawah/Sara Russo (JB) def. Jen Schrader/Lindsay Trapp (Lauralton Hall) 4-6, 6-4, 6-2; 3. Jenna Moser/Katie Serock (Newtown) def. Kristin Hanczor/Sara Beitman (JB) 6-3, 6-4.
The Newtown High School boysâ tennis team sent three singles players and one doubles tandem to the South-West Conference individual tournament last week, but first round losses by each prevented anyone from advancing to the second day.
Drew Adamek dropped an 8-1 decision to Chuck Feldman of Joel Barlow and at No. 3 singles Max Margulies dropped an 8-3 decision to Emmett Garber of Bunnell â¦ a player Margulies had beaten in straight sets during a regular season meeting.
The No. 1 doubles tandem of Mike Coster and Jim Wilkins put up the best fight. Playing against Burak Buyuksolak and Brendan Neaton of Masuk, whom Coster and Wilkins had beaten in three sets during the regular season, the locals lost the first set, 6-2, and were down 5-2 in the second before saving a number of match points and running off five straight games to win the second set, 7-5.
In the third set, Coster and Wilkins were again down 5-2, but once more saved several match points to narrow the gap to 5-4 before losing 6-4.
Chris Meier qualified to play in the third singles bracket, had to withdraw because of a scheduling conflict when the starting date was postponed.
All that remains for the Nighthawks â who finished the regular season at 7-7 â is the CIAC state tournament, which opens
All that remains for us this season is the state tournament at Cheshire, which begins on Thursday June 2. The âHawks will be sending a full complement of nine players: Drew Adamek, Chris Martin, Chris Meier, Max Margulies and Mario Roehrs in singles and Mike Coster/Jim Wilkins and Dave Wilkins/Ben Wicki in doubles.