Avon’s great season ends with semis loss

WATERTOWN — It was frigid. It took seven minutes of extra time. And it also nearly resulted in a trip to the Class M finals for the Avon field hockey team. But a few unlucky bounces helped Lauralton Hall to a 1-0 overtime victory, officially ending the Falcons 2013 run in Watertown Tuesday night.

“We went a lot further than most people thought,” Avon head coach Terri Ziemnicki said, recalling her post-game speech to the girls. “The reason it hurts is because it means so much. As time goes on they will know what a great season we had. We worked through a lot of adversity this year we just got stronger and stronger.”

The Falcons fought the Crusaders hard for 60 minutes, forcing overtime with a scoreless tie when regulation ended.

After an equally tough first six-plus minutes, Avon’s Caroline Schaefer had an opportunity at point blank range, right in front of the Lauralton Hall goal. Unfortunately, the shot went just wide, and less than a minute later, Laurelton’s Maureen Connolly set up Elizabeth Lamonte at the 2:29 mark and the ball hit the back of the net. And as quickly as that, Avon’s season was over.

“I think at the very end there we got unlucky when [Shaefer] shot it,” the coach said. “I thought our defense played incredible. And my goalie was outstanding. I don’t know how many corners they had but we stopped them, but in the end we got unlucky and they got lucky. We could have scored just as easily as they did.”

Avon’s keeper, junior Natalie Sawicki had five saves in the game, many of them in key spots.

The first half had very few chances for either team, but Avon knew it would be able to muster scoring chances, and the girls did.

“We’ve been that kind of a team we always play better in the second half,” the coach said. “We didn’t really change anything we just turned it up a notch.”

The Falcons had four big penalty corners down the stretch in the second, but unfortunately, none of them resulted on a shot on goal, though there were several attempts deflected or just wide of the net.

Avon’s appearance in the Class M semifinals is more than a great show of talent and hard work on the field. It is also the coming together of a family to overcome some adversity. And that is what the season will be remembered for by the seniors proudly adorning the blue and white.

“They’re just a classy group of seniors,” Ziemnicki said. “There was no drama ever on this team Not any day. It was really drama free. And we got through the death of a teacher who was also their field hockey coach in middle school, and one of our freshmen, our manager, is battling cancer right now. It was that kind of stuff. They are genuinely good people and they treat each other with respect. It was a group of nice girls trying to do it together.”

The eight departing seniors were a big part of the community, and were able to lift the spirits of family members, fans and fellow hockey players with their dedication and good sportsmanship. And their 13 wins didn’t hurt either.

“Sometimes when you have to really dig deep it makes you stronger,” Ziemnicki said.

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