Thomaston advances to first field hockey final
The Thomaston High Field Hockey team is heading to the state championship game for the first time in school history after Tuesday's 3-2 victory over Canton in the semifinals
WATERTOWN - Thomaston High has never had a field hockey team play for a state championship. That's about to change on Saturday as an incredible run of success keeps on going and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Morgan Sanson scored three goals and the defense stiffened when it absolutely had to as the top-seeded Bears earned their first trip to the state finals with a 3-2 victory over No. 12 Canton on Tuesday night in a Class S semifinal matchup at Watertown High.
Thomaston (17-1) advances to play No. 3 Haddam-Killingworth (17-2) in the Class S final on Saturday at Wethersfield High School at a time still to be determined. Haddam-Killingworth knocked off No. 2 Immaculate in the other semifinal on Tuesday night.
We all know about the success of the girls sports teams at Thomaston High, by now the entire state does. It started with back-to-back cross country titles in 2010-11 and picked up some steam when the basketball team made its first Run to the Sun in 2013 before losing to Capital Prep in the Class S finals. Since then the basketball team has won back-to-back titles and the softball team won the title in 2013 and made it all the way to the finals last season. That left field hockey as the outsider looking in as far as state tournament success was concerned.
"This is the final piece of the puzzle, it's the only one we haven't made it to," said senior Nicole Schaefer, who assisted on what turned out to be the game winning goal. "Senior year, it's all anyone could wish for senior year."
Sanson, a fellow senior, scored a pair of goals in the first half to give the Bears a 2-1 lead at the break. She added her third with 22:14 to play to extend the lead to 3-1. Canton cut the deficit to 3-2 a little over five minutes later but Thomaston was able to absorb any attacks Canton mounted in the closing minutes.
"We packed in the defense. We saw that they scored their goals when people we unmarked so we packed it in and were talking and made sure everyone was covered," Schaefer said.
Sanson's first goal came just over eight minutes into the game. Canton responded five and a half minutes later and the action was back and forth throughout much of the first half. Sanson added her second tally of the night with 4:16 left in the first half, redirecting a shot by Schaefer off a penalty corner.
"Those goals came off of good passes from my teammates," Sanson said. "It's really special my senior year. With all the success Thomaston has had in the past, it means a lot my senior year to have it all come together."
Sanson, Schaefer and Gabby Hurlbert will be playing in their sixth state final on Saturday and fellow senior Julia Romaniello has been a key player in Thomaston's softball and field hockey success over the years. The experience of being on the big stage before certainly helps as the Bears never were rattled after the Warriors pulled within a goal down the stretch.
"I think experience was the difference and it starts with our four seniors who have a lot of varsity experience and a lot of tournament experience from many sports," Thomaston coach Brooke Holway said. "They are three sport athletes. They are confident when they go out on the field and all that experience definitely helps them. They are not intimidated and that's huge."
Now the Bears have one more game to go, one more to win and they will add to what is already and impressive resume of success. This core has been a part of so many wins and titles in the past, it's hard to bet against them and it's another source of home town pride for Thomaston.
"It's so exciting. I grew up in Thomaston, I played Thomaston sports," Holway said. "It's such a great town to be in and such a great program to be a part of."