VARDEN — Canaan Christian Academy's girls varsity soccer team is quickly becoming one of the best stories of the 2018 fall campaign.
Under the watchful eyes of veteran head coach John Ashley, the Lady Eagles are exceeding all expectations and piling up the wins in NY-Penn action.
As of Wednesday, CCA was all alone atop the league standings with a sparkling 6-1-0 record, 1.5 games up on North Rome (5-2-1). The local lasses are 7-1-0 overall.
“I'm almost out of adjectives to describe how proud I am of this team,” said Coach Ashley. “The effort and attitude I'm seeing from these girls is just amazing. They play with a lot of heart.”
While Canaan's boys team isn't putting up the big numbers, the Eagles are making strides with an eye toward the post season.
“They're a great group of guys,” Coach Ashley said. “They're constantly improving as a unit. Coach Swartley should have them ready come tournament time to be a real threat and make some noise.”
CCA's boys are currently 2-3-0 in the league and 3-3-0 overall this fall.Both of Canaan's varsity squads are back on the pitch this weekend.
Weather permitting, the Eagles will host Twin Tiers in a soccer doubleheader. Action gets underway at noon for the girls and at about 2 p.m. for the boys.
The Lady Eagles made Triboro their latest victim, traveling to Old Forge and hammering out an impressive 3-1 victory.
“It was a physical game against a much bigger team,” Coach Ashley said. “Triboro also has two of the fastest strikers in the league. As a team, they are really fast.”
Hannah Chapman turned in one of her best efforts of the season. The senior keeper and tri-captain stopped 11 of the 12 shots she faced on this day.
The highlight of Chapman's match came on a direct kick. Hannah was on her toes at the top of the box when Triboro's Madison Howell fired on net before the defensive wall could be set.
Chapman went full extension to her left and punched the ball just past the post for a highlight reel save.
Heather Lamberson, Celia Sheard, and Kelli Grimm combined for all three goals and three assists for Canaan.
Celia Sheard fired the opening salvo, scoring off a Kelli Grimm assist at the 29:30 mark.
Heather Lamberson made it 2-0 with a goal courtesy of another Grimm assist. This one came just 90 seconds after the first tally.
The Lady Eagles led 2-0 at intermission, but Triboro finally broke through. The home team notched its lone goal of the match 13 minutes into the second half via a quick strike from Katherine Majeski.
But Lamberson retaliated quickly, giving Canaan some much needed insurance only two minutes later.
Celia Sheard earned the assist this time around, making the final score 3-1 in favor of Canaan.
The Lady Eagles their closest pursuer have met twice already this season.
North Rome won the initial encounter back in early September, but the local lasses rebounded with a 4-1 win last week.
“Several fans and even one of the referees remarked on the talent and size of the North Rome squad,” Coach Ashley said. “I’m pleased that our small, scrappy team continues to find ways to compete at such a high level.”
Lamberson once again ignited the CCA offensive assault. The battle-tested veteran gave her team the lead 11 minutes in with an unassisted goal.
North Rome struck back 10 minutes later when Rachel Beers tallied what turned out to be the visitors’ only goal. From that point on, Canaan’s Celia Sheard simply took over.
A sophomore striker with a reputation for fearless, hard-nosed play, Sheard recorded a natural hat trick, scoring three consecutive goals to give CCA all the breathing room it needed.
Celia made it 2-1 at halftime, tallying courtesy of a Grimm assist. She struck twice more after the break, each time courtesy of a pass by Lamberson.
“Celia has so much heart and determination,” Coach Ashley said simply.
Chapman enjoyed yet another stellar afternoon between the posts. Canaan’s veteran keeper stopped eight of the nine shots North Rome unleashed