VARDEN — Canaan Christian Academy's girls varsity soccer team celebrated Senior Day in the best way possible...with a win and a league championship.
The Lady Eagles dominated their final regular season game, scoring an early goal and cruising to a 3-0 victory over Twin Tiers. With this triumph, Coach John Ashley's squad closed out the NY/Penn Christian Athletic Association campaign with a 9-0-1 record.
"This year has been such a pleasant surprise," he said with a big smile. "I really didn't know what we had at the beginning. I honestly didn't know if we'd win any games, much less the league title. I'm so happy for these girls. They worked hard and they deserve it."
Canaan is 14-2-1 overall and headed for the playoffs.
The Lady Eagles earned a #1 seed and an opening round bye. They'll open their gold medal quest Thursday afternoon at BC United in Endicott (NY). A victory in that semifinal would propel the local lasses into the title tilt, which is scheduled for Saturday.
On the boys side of the bracket, CCA gave undefeated Twin Tiers all it could handle. This match remained deadlocked 1-1 deep into the second half before the visitors finally tallied the gamewinner.
"It's a tough loss, no doubt about it," Coach Ashley said. "They're a very good team and we hung right with them for most of the game. I'm definitely proud of our boys."
Canaan finished up its NY/Penn regular season slate with a solid 5-4-1 record. The Eagles are also headed for tournament time, but must survive a road play-in match on Tuesday to advance.
Hundreds of fans turned out on a blustery fall afternoon to witness some superior soccer and celebrate Senior Day.
Eight boys and girls played the final home game of their high school careers on Thursday and Coach Ashley didn't hesitate in singing their praises.
"This is a terrific group of seniors," CCA's veteran coach and athletic director said. "They gave us excellent leadership. These kids have been a huge part of our program for the last four years. We're definitely going to miss them."
Senior players who were honored Thursday are: Seth Kilian, Matthew Larosa, Ashlea Swingle, Joe Schweinsburg, Joe Chupick, Travis Hoffman, Katie Krug, Grace VanDeLinde.
The post-game party was even more festive on the heels of Canaan's first-ever NY/Penn title.
Allyson Wittenbrader and Tori Grimm, who closed out the regular season atop the Lady Eagles scoring list, led the CCA assault.
Wittenbrader is a junior striker who piled up a team-high 15 goals. She tallied twice against Twin Tiers, giving the home team much-needed breathing room.
Page 2 of 2 - Wittenbrader's first goal came at the 23:36 mark off a pass from Casey Guiffredo. She added another midway through the second half courtesy of a Brenna McLaughlin assist.
"Ally is all heart and hustle," Coach Ashley said. "She works incredibly hard out there and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. And, once she gets the ball, she knows how to finish."
Grimm is still just a sophomore who bounced back from a knee injury to tally 13 goals of her own. She plays left wing and strikes fear into the hearts of enemy keepers on a regular basis.
"I really thought Tori might be done for the year, but she's a tough kid," Coach Ashley said. "She plays year-round on travel teams. Tori is very quick and knows how to put the ball in he net."
Defensively, Sami Beals was once again strong for CCA. The Lady Eagles' keeper stopped every shot she faced en route to the shutout.
Coach Ashley also handed out high marks to Ashlea Swingle and Corinne VanDeLinde for their relentless play on the back line.
Veronica Oakley and Grace VanDeLinde also dazzled with sideline-to-sideline effort in the midfield and on defense. VanDeLinde rounded out Canaan's scoring with a goal off a pinpoint pass from Wittenbrader.
Score by Half...
CCA (9-0-1) 1 2 — 3
TTC (7-3-0) 0 0 — 0