WORCESTER, Mass. -- The first goal the Canton Bulldogs surrendered in the playoffs was a costly one.
Saturday, the team lost 1-0 to Auburn in the Division 2 State Girls Soccer Championship. With 28 minutes left in the game, Auburn’s Jenna Scanlon received a pass in the right corner. Before she could be buried in the corner by the Canton defense, she sent a crossing pass to the front of the net.
The Canton (19-2-2) goaltender hit the ball up in the air, and Alysha Brunelle crashed the net to put home the rebound for the score.
“It looked like the goalie was coming out, but Jenna and I had been practicing that for a long time,” Brunelle said. “I finally got a foot on it and it went straight in.”
It was the first goal Canton gave up in the past five games.
Canton dominated the possession battle in the first half, spending most of it in its offensive zone. Its best opportunities came from two corner kicks, but the team was unable to convert them.
After going into the half scoreless, the Rockets came out in the second with a renewed energy. They put Canton back on its heels early and often, which lead to the eventual goal.
There was no stirring halftime speech or schematic adjustment that helped propel Auburn (22-0-1), though. Team execution was the difference.
“It was the passing game,” said coach Paul Turner. “I was just trying, as desperately as possible to have them keep the ball on the ground, which created a ton of stuff. It always did all season long. It just created opportunity after opportunity.”
“Canton is a great team,” he added. “We knew we could possess the ball and when we did, that’s basically what happened.”
Canton did not go away quietly however. Six minutes later, the team set up a corner kick to the left of Auburn goalkeeper Jordan Hauge (16 saves). After a short pass, Lauren Berman fired a shot at Hauge, but it went a foot wide of the goal.
Minutes later, Meg Lannon’s shot hit the crossbar, inches away from tying the game.
In the final two minutes, Brianna Duserick lead a late charge from midfield. She sent a crossing pass to Lennon, whose shot missed the far post by a few feet. Hauge sent the free kick down the other end of the field and the horn blew, putting an exclamation point on the Auburn Rockets’ season.
“This feels awesome, this is what we’ve been working for the longest time,” said Scanlon. “We are definitely high on life right now.”
She added, “Our freshman year we got knocked off right away and then in our sophomore year, we got knocked off in the district finals. We wanted to come back and win districts, which we did, and then we made it all the way here and lost in a heartbreaker to Medfield.
"This year, we knew as seniors we were going to give everything we had. We’re seniors now, so there’s nothing left to give. We gave it our all and it finally happened.”