Tim Canty took a bleacher seat alongside his wife Karen about halfway through Schenectady’s varsity girls’ soccer game with Niskayuna Tuesday afternoon at Larry Mulvaney Field.
“The nice thing is my husband and I can be in the same place,” Karen Canty said as she watched her daughters compete for the Patriots. “Usually, that doesn’t happen. They’ve been in sports since they were four.”
Grace, Audrey and Caroline Canty have played in a lot of games, but never on the same team like they are this fall season. They all start on defense, too, making this rare three-sister act even more so.
“The older two played CYO basketball and our youngest came and practiced, but didn’t suit up,” Tim Canty said. “That’s the closest to being on the same team.”
Eighth-grader Caroline Canty is new to the varsity, while Grace Canty, a senior, is a captain in her fourth season. Audrey Canty, a sophomore, is a second-year player with the team.
“They’re sisters, but they’re different in their own little ways,” Schenectady coach Duane Wood said.
Grace Canty is the grinder who leads the young, rebuilding Schenectady team by both action and words. Audrey Canty is the wise tactician, always looking and playing the angles. Caroline Canty is the young, wide-eyed prodigy with abounding energy — and maybe one of the Suburban Council’s next star players.
“I definitely wanted her on the team,” Grace Canty said. “I thought it would be fun with all of us together. It’s been great.”
Caroline was hesitant about trying out for the varsity.
“I was nervous about that,” the shy 13-year-old said. “Everyone was older than me.”
Wood was thinking the same thing before relenting.
“I was going to have her on the JV,” Wood said. “As soon as I saw her play, I had to put her on the varsity. She belongs.”
That move to unite the siblings took this all in the family thing to a second level. Turns out when Tim Canty was playing freshman football for Linton High School in 1979, his brothers, senior Jim and twin juniors Jack and Bill, were teammates on the Blue Devils’ varsity. Another brother, Tom, was on the junior varsity.
The girls have heard the story of their uncles before. They just roll their eyes.
“My goal for us was to not fight on the field,” Grace said with a laugh. “You see some sisters do that, and it’s never pretty. Let’s keep it professional.”
Karen Canty can tell the girls are enjoying the experience.
“They like to be together. They like doing things together,” she said. “They’ll come home and they’ll all be talking a mile a minute about what happened that day. I have to give them five minutes each or they’ll talk over each other.”
Wood said the sisters, all tall and lean, are a joy.
“Their work ethic is unbelievable,” he said. “They are very coachable and want to learn. They’re all good students. They’ve got great parents supporting them.”
The Canty’s eldest, Kevin, competed in soccer, golf, hockey and lacrosse while at Schenectady, and is currently a freshman at the University at Rochester. He plans to play club hockey at the collegiate level.
“I’m always trying to be as good as him,” Audrey said of her brother. “He pushes me.”
Audrey said she is going to try to earn a defensive position with the Niskayuna/Schenectady hockey team this winter. Hockey is her favorite sport, while Grace and Caroline said soccer is theirs.
“The two older girls played youth hockey together and all the boys wanted to be forwards,” Tim Canty said. “So they ended up playing defense. Those two, and two other boys. That’s where they got the defensive mindset.”
Schoharie has its own trio of sisters — junior Carrie, eighth-grader Megan and seventh-grader Katie Krohn — and their role with the Indians’ varsity soccer team is to generate offense.
“My girls have always played defense,” Karen Canty said. “They know their position. They have speed.”
“I like that we all play defense together,” Audrey said. “I feel like we have a connection.”
While defense is among the many bonds between the sisters, they are sisters with different tastes and likes, as well. They like the colors green, turquoise and red, and their television favorites vary between “Project Runway” to “Dance Moms” and “South Park.” Grace likes the move “Big Hero 6,”’ while Audrey and Caroline are “Zootopia’ fans. Caroline is a big rooter of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team, while Grace and Audrey can’t get enough of the Buffalo Sabres.
“It’s great. It’s a lot of fun watching them do something together,” Tim Canty said. “As long as they’re playing and having fun, that’s what it’s about.”
Karen Canty said every game they play together is special.
“I’m really enjoying it,” she said. “It’s going by so fast. It’s not going to last. I try to take pictures and they never come out, but I keep taking them. It’s something we’ll all want to look back on and remember.”
The sisters, fans of the Harry Potter books and movies, will join together again in the spring on Schenectady’s quidditch team that Grace started when she was a junior.
“It’s another team we’re on together,” Grace said.