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Girls’ Varsity Soccer Closes Out 18-1 Season with NEPSAC Class C Championship Win

Kelly Slonaker

It was an excellent end to an excellent season. Girls’ Varsity Soccer won the Class C Title in the New England Private School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Championship Final against St. Luke’s School, CT on November 17. After a 3–2 win against Dexter-Southfield at home the day prior, the first-seeded Saints competed in the tournament final against third-seeded The Storm on neutral turf at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, MA where they won 1–0.

This is the first NEPSAC Championship title win for soccer at Canterbury, for either the girls’ or boys’ teams—the Girls’ Varsity team made it to the tournament last year, but lost in the quarterfinal game. Composed of mostly underformers and guided by powerhouse coaching duo Sam Hargrove (head coach) and Bryce Wallis (assistant coach), the team’s trajectory is only heading upward. In fact, they were ranked fifth amongst all classes in Western New England. Led by captains CC Poli ’20 and Bella Cotier ’20, the team won 18 of their 19 games and boasted 82 goals in the season (lead scorers were Joy Okonye ’23 with 28, Ella Olcese ’21 with 27, and Abi King ’21 with 10). Only 10 goals were scored against them, and they had an amazing 13 shutouts by goalie Peyton DeRouen ’21.

"It's a great feeling to cap off an amazing season with a New England Championship. This group has really come together this year in many ways, including doing an unbelievable job raising money for St. Jude Children's Hospital,” said Coach Hargrove. “This weekend was a testament to their character and grit with two games in two days against tough opponents. Coach Wallis and I are so proud of this team and all that they have been able to accomplish not only this year but in their time at Canterbury."

CC ’20 shared her gratitude for the team and its coaches in her final season as a Saint: “All of it feels so surreal. Just four years ago, I would have never imagined that we would be New England Class C Champions.” She continued, “Our coaches, team, and season were filled with lots of blood, sweat, and tears. We put so much dedication and heart into the game for our coaches, for ourselves, and for each other. This team is forever, and I will always be grateful for that.”

The team presented their trophy to Head of School Rachel Stone during School Meeting on Tuesday, where she noted, “They played with class, they played with strength, and they played with the spirit of the Saints. We are so proud of this team!”