Canastota tops S-E in CSC West tilt
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.