Canastota tops S-E in CSC West tilt

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Front Page - By John Brewer jbrewer@onei­dadis­ Sports Ed­i­tor

CANASTOTA, N.Y. » The first time the Canastota and Sher­burne-Ear­lville field hockey teams met this sea­son, over­time was needed to set­tle things, and Sher­burne-Ear­lville used a Sa­vanna Niles goal to top the de­fend­ing CSC West cham­pi­ons, 1-0.

Three weeks later, the di­vi­sion ri­vals met again with higher stakes: a CSC West ti­tle.

This time, over­time was not needed.

Canastota se­nior Ju­lia Vac­caro ripped the go-ahead goal with 16:43 left in the se­cond half, and the Raider de­fense and goalie Leanne Han­nan kept S-E off the board the rest of the way for the shutout winand at least a share of the CSC West crown for the third con­sec­u­tive sea­son.

De­spite con­trol­ling pos­ses­sion through­out large por­tions of the first half, Canastota en­tered the half­time break tied 0-0, though not for a lack of op­por­tu­nity.

With un­der ten min­utes to play in the first, Canastota’s Jes­sica Evans redi­rected a rolling loose ball into the near side of the cage, just miss­ing. Min­utes later, S-E keeper Alyssa Canarelli came up with a kick save on a Vac­caro of­fer­ing from deep, de­flect­ing the ball away.

With three min­utes to go in the first, Emily Lasalle thwarted a Canastota penalty cor­ner, hus­tling in to in­ter­cept and clear a pass in­tended for Evans near the top of the shoot­ing cir­cle as the two teams hit the in­ter­mis­sion tied.

“We need to clean it up of­fen­sively. We weren’t mov­ing in the cir­cle at all. We were just hop­ing the ball would make it through their de­fense, and it was mag­i­cally go­ing to go in the goal,” Canastota coach Danielle Bir­ck­head, the re­cip­i­ent of a wa­ter cooler

dous­ing, said of her half­time mes­sage. “I told the girls that we had to start mov­ing and take some quicker shots in the cir­cle and not play around with it.”

In the se­cond half, the Raiders were able to cap­i­tal­ize on a penalty cor­ner at the 16:19 mark, but not be­fore sur­viv­ing a scare from S-E’s Re­becca Turner. The se­nior Ma­rauder had a nice run down the left side­line, send­ing a dan­ger­ous ball to­ward the cage. Canastota goalie Leanne Han­nan sprawled out to de­fend the en­try, and Vac­caro caught a piece of Niles’ re­bound try to keep the score at 0- 0.

“She is es­sen­tial to our de­fense. She talks to her sweep, her half­backs, the wings that come down and help her. She is al­ways com­mu­ni­cat­ing with them. She keeps them to­gether. She is phe­nom­e­nal in the goal,” Bir­ck­head said of Han­nan. “She has come so far the last three years. She put in the work, and it’s very ev­i­dent. She had a goal when she started play­ing to be a great goalie, and I think she has ac­com­plished that.”

Af­ter help­ing out on de­fense, Vac­caro was piv­otal in spark­ing the of­fense on the other end. The Canastota se­nior drew a foul at the top of the cir­cle for the penalty cor­ner. Off the set piece, Re­becca Pop­ple went right back to Vac­caro at the top of the scor­ing peo­ple, who ripped a rolling shot past the keeper for a 1- 0 Raider lead.

“She has great, great ball skills,” Bir­ck­head said of Vac­caro. “She helps bring the team to the of­fen­sive level that we need to be at. If we need to get the ball down the field, she is the girl who I want to get that ball to be­cause she can hit it down the field and has the stick skills to move it down there, too. She is a big part of team, espe­cially be­ing at the mid­field po­si­tion.”

The Canastota de­fense con­tin­ued to pitch a shutout in the clos­ing min­utes of the con­test; how­ever, S-E nearly found the equal­izer with un­der a minute to go in the con­test. Af­ter draw­ing a penalty cor­ner, S-E rock­eted a shot to­ward the Canastota cage, but Han­nan came up with a huge kick-save, de­flect­ing the ball away for her de­fense to clear.

“We do have good de­fense. In all re­al­ity, we are a young team. A lot of girls have not been in th­ese sit­u­a­tions. That’s where some of our ex­pe­ri­ence with the other girls comes into play,” Bir­ck­head said of Canastota’s car­diac ten­den­cies - the Raiders have won four of their last five games in 1- 0 fash­ion. “All 14 of my girls, they do not want lose. They know they have to do what­ever they have to do to win.”


Canastota’s Pey­ton Shirley (2) and Sher­burne-Ear­lville’s Sarah Rod­man (6) vie for pos­ses­sion dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s Cen­ter State Con­fer­ence West tilt.


Canastota goalie Leanne Han­nan (38) makes a kick save on a shot from Sher­burne-Ear­lville’s Re­becca Turner (4).


Canastota cap­tain Ju­lia Vac­caro fires the game-win­ning shot in a 1-0vic­tory over Sher­burne-Ear­lville on Wed­nes­day, Oct. 10.

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