EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 30, 2012

Atkinson's Cannon leads Tufts to national title

Atkinson's Cannon leads Tufts to national title

Our College Stars
Michael Muldoon

---- — National champion. First-team All-American. NESCAC Scholar-Athlete team.

Yes, it was a pretty good fall for Tufts junior field hockey player Emily Cannon of Atkinson.

It might not have been quite like Tuscaloosa after an Alabama football national title, but Cannon was touched by how the team was received.

“When we got back to Tufts (from William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y.), there were 50-60 people welcoming us,” explained Cannon. “That was really, really awesome. It was 10:45 at night because we had hit some traffic.

“The girls we live with, the entire house was decorated inside and outside. They had a banner that said national champions. It was awesome.”

During the title game, coach Tina McDavitt’s heart sank when she saw Cannon writhing in pain.

“She was nailed in the thumb,” said McDavitt, whose team became the first Tufts women’s squad in any sport to win a national title. “I immediately thought it was broken. She looked at me like, ‘I’m not coming out!’ She’s so tough. She’s so determined.”

This isn’t Cannon’s first title. She scored the game-winner in OT as Timberlane beat Pinkerton in the 2009 Class L title game. It was the first title for the Owls, who had been runner-up four times in the previous eight years.

So what was bigger, the historic state title or the historic national title?

“There is nothing better than a national championship,” said Cannon. “Even though I scored the winner and we won at Timberlane, this is so much bigger and better.”

Two days after beating Montclair State for the championship, Cannon got more good news. She was one of 16 players nationally from the 50 Division 3 college field hockey teams named to the Longstreth All-American team.

“I woke up (Nov. 20) and I had a text from Coach Tina and our graduate assistant Taylor Dyer (the former Tufts star from Windham) and our goalie coach.

“One said: ‘Congratulations on being first-team All-American.’ I said, ‘What?!’ I went to the NCAA website. I didn’t think it could get better than a national championship.”

Given that she is an All-American and was Eagle-Tribune MVP at Timberlane, you might think she was always a mega-star.

Hardly.

“In high school, I didn’t do a lot until junior year,” said Cannon, who was the third leading scorer for the 19-2 Jumbos with eight goals and five assists. “I just wanted to make varsity.”

She followed her sister to Tufts, which wasn’t necessarily a given. It isn’t easy try to keep up with Sarah, a former Timberlane valedictorian who was a star for the Jumbos and a Rhodes Scholarship finalist.

“I didn’t want to go to the same school,” admitted Emily, a center-midfielder who is two years younger than her sister. “We went to the same high school and middle school. ... But I’m so glad I chose Tufts.”

So is McDavitt.

“She’s just an all-around player,” said the ninth-year Jumbos coach. “

She’s unbelievable. It comes naturally to her. She knows exactly what she has to do offensively and exactly what she has to do defensively. You tell her once and she does it perfectly.”

The goal next year, of course, is make a run at a repeat. But next fall is a long ways away.

Next semester Cannon, an architecture and art history major whose GPA is in the 3.5-3.6 range, will be studying in Florence, Italy.

“I’m so excited. I can’t wait to travel and explore,” she said.

To contribute information on a college athlete, e-mail mmuldoon@eagletribune.com. Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.