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Norwalk Falls in State Field Hockey Final

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s field hockey team pressed in vain for the tying goal during the final 45 minutes of Saturday’s Class L championship game against Cheshire.  And though the Bears failed to score, they had the Rams clinging for life as the game drew to a close.

“I’m proud of the way we went after it,’’ Norwalk coach Kyle Seaburg said after the third-seeded Bears fell to top-seeded Cheshire, 1-0, in Wethersfield. “We had our opportunities, right up until the last minute. I know it hurts them right now, and I hate to see that. But I think when they look back, they can be proud of the way they played, not just today, but the whole season. Today was the icing on the cake. I wanted them to go enjoy it.”

Norwalk (15-4-1) fell behind with 18:55 left in the first half on a goal by Cheshire’s Miranda Garcia. Cheshire, which did not allow a goal in four tournament games, dominated the first 15 minutes of the game and had the Bears pinned in their own zone.

When the Bears found their offensive rhythm, they never lost it. Over the final 45 minutes they had more scoring opportunities, an 11-6 advantage in corner hits, and forced Cheshire goalie Maria Blois to make six saves. They did everything right, except put the ball in the cage.

“The word was that she’s a great goalie, very aggressive, and she was that way today,’’ Seaburg said. “We had our opportunities. That’s all you can ask.”

The Bears’ best chance came at 3:38 before halftime. After sustained pressure, a Norwalk shot rolled toward the goal line and was swept away by a defender before it rolled into the cage. Christina Mace took the penalty hit for the Bears, and Blois managed to get a piece of it and deflect it over the cage.

Norwalk kept up the pressure in the second half, when it took eight corners to just one for Cheshire. The Rams (19-1) were on their heels most of the second half. Norwalk played tight defensively, anchored by Kerry McCabe, Victoria Price, Kaitlyn Solano and Kelly McGonigle. Katie Schmidt, Mace, Efthimia Kutrubis and Thenya Taiyanides played well up front, but they couldn’t solve Blois.

Cheshire won its ninth state title, and first since 2001. The Rams certainly gained a lot of respect for Norwalk, which was playing in its first final ever.

“We talk about how wins and losses are not always the most important thing,’’ Seaburg said. “I’d like to walk out of here with a gold medal instead of a silver. I think when we look back on it, what we did was a great accomplishment.”

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