Advantage Bow, one more time
The story remains the same. Just like in last year's championship game and in this year's season opener, the Bow High field hockey team was just a little bit better than rival Merrimack Valley yesterday.
The Falcons scored late in the first half and survived a late scare by the Pride to come away with a 1-0 victory in the Division II quarterfinals. Fourth-seeded Bow (13-3) advances to the semifinals, while fifth-seeded MV (10-5-1) comes up a little short of another championship-game run.
The lone goal was simply a matter of tenaciousness on the Falcons' part.
Following a penalty-corner hit, Bow put at least four shots on MV goalie Kerry Fedion without success before a rebound popped out to Bow's Brooke Marshall. The senior center midfielder, standing about two yards away from Fedion, popped the ball with a reverse-stick shot over the goalie with 5:29 left before halftime. It was Marshall's third goal of the season.
"Our goalie went down and made a great save (beforehand)," MV Coach Kim Kenney said, "but when she went down, (Marshall) flipped it over her. It was a great goal. Nothing you could do about it."
After that, Bow dug in defensively and proceeded to not only keep the Pride's attack away from Bow goalie Amy Zahensky, but the Falcons also generated continuous pressure in the MV end.
In all, Bow had a 12-2 advantage in penalty corners and a 5-3 edge in shots on goal. However, according to Bow Coach Lyndsey Cook, the Falcons took 17 shots, with most of them not making it through to the goalie.
"Our defenders meshed really well today," Cook said, noting the play of Suzie Barry, Julianne Mosher and Sarah Davis. "They were really communicating and that was a huge catalyst in keeping the ball on the attack."
That attack, however, didn't equate to any breathing room on the scoreboard.
Finally, MV was the one to put on the pressure. Twice in about the last five minutes, Kenney said, the Pride came close to tying the game, first when Lily Davis dove for the ball and hit the side of the cage, then when the dangerous Bekka Donovan got off a clean shot from about 10 yards away that Zahensky saved.
"We had Bow back on defense for most of the last five minutes," Kenney said, "but they're a great team, and we just didn't get it."
"They kept pushing us," Cook said, "and we tried to keep pushing back."
The Falcons have now won three straight one-goal decisions against the Pride, following last season's 2-1 D-II championship game win and this season's 1-0 win.
"It just means in order to beat a team like that you've got to ... play with intensity the entire time," said Cook, Bow's first-year coach. "You can't let up."
With the victory, the Falcons advance to Wednesday's semifinal and will take on top-seeded Lebanon (13-1-1) at 7 p.m. in Exeter.
MV, which had 16 new players this season, will look ahead to next season with a measure of satisfaction.
"For us to be the No. 5 team in (Division II), it didn't matter who we played today, I can't be disappointed," Kenney said. "I always want to win, the girls always want to win, but sometimes no matter if you play your absolute best, sometimes you just don't come out on top."
DIV. III FIELD HOCKEY
No. 6 Hopkinton 2, No. 3 Gilford 1
Hopkinton (12-4) pulled off the mild upset of Gilford (12-3-1) to reach the final four for the first time since 2009.
The Hawks will take on No. 2 Berlin on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Exeter High School.
After Hopkinton controlled play for the first 15 minutes of the game, Gilford began to take control. But with 2:55 remaining in the first half, Megan Allen converted a feed from Maria Booth to return momentum to the Hawks and send them into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
Then, about 13 minutes into the second half, Brittany Marshall gave Hopkinton a two-goal cushion, rocketing in a goal off a corner. The Golden Eagles came right back less than five minutes later to halve their deficit and continued to pressure goalie Maddy Bergethon (eight saves), but she held strong with defensive support from Caroline Levy, Alexandra Flood, Callie Chase and Emily Bogart.
Pinkerton 42, Concord 21
Concord (4-4 overall, 3-4 Division I) hung around for most of the game, but could never quite catch up to Pinkerton (7-1, 5-1).
The loss puts the Tide on the cusp of playoff elimination, but Concord still has a mathematical chance at the postseason if it wins its final two games and gets some help, namely if Londonderry can upset Nashua South.
Wide receiver Seimou Smith and running back Tolbert Nemo had big games offensively for Concord. Smith scored on a touchdown reception and Nemo scored from roughly 80 yards out on what Coach Eric Brown called "one of the nicest runs I've seen."
Jake Szulc scored Concord's other TD on a pass from Robbie Law.
"It was never a blowout," Brown said. "Defensively we just didn't play well in the first half. . . . Big plays killed us."
Kearsarge 21, Monadnock 7
The Cougars (6-1) had control all game but didn't have the victory locked up until late in the fourth quarter, when Jordan Barthol's interception return for a touchdown sealed it with about a minute remaining in the game.
Kearsarge took a 14-0 lead in the first half, thanks again to its defense. Peter Allen returned an interception 65 yards for a score in the first quarter, and Oliver Gallo scored the lone offensive touchdown in the second quarter on a 48-yard scamper.
Monadnock (5-2) scored with six minutes left and tried for the tie in the closing minutes, but the Cougars held on.
"It was definitely a defensive game," Coach Zach Matthews said. "We just happened to get the two defensive scores."
Lebanon 39, John Stark 16
The Generals (1-7) were at the 4-yard line and aiming to rally back from a 14-0 deficit in the second quarter, but a Lebanon interception was returned 105 yards for a score, putting John Stark in a hole too big to climb out of.
Nic Lloyd had a 2-yard run for the Generals and Tim Barnes scored on a diving catch of a 5-yard pass from Blake Gorski. Adam King played well while filling in for injured halfback Carson Dunn, and Kellan Brien led a solid line at the center and nose tackle spots.
Franklin 28, Newfound 0
Franklin (6-2) put itself in the driver's seat for a Division VI playoff spot, shutting out Newfound (6-2), which came into the game tied atop the standings. No details were reported.
The Golden Tornadoes can assure themselves a postseason appearance with a victory over Bishop Brady on Saturday.
Dover 1, Concord 0
Despite falling victim to upset-minded Dover in the regular-season finale, Concord appears likely to host a Division I tournament game.
Dover (3-10-3) scored the lone goal in the 60th minute.
Concord (7-6-3) got strong play in the defensive midfield from Mary Annon, Eliza Bunnell and Irene Ireme. Goalie Diamond Chaplin made two saves.
The Tide will learn its final playoff seeding after Bishop Guertin (8-6-1) plays Londonderry today. If Concord finishes among the top eight, it will open the tourney at home.
John Stark 3, Con-Val 0
John Stark (10-3-3) picked up another win, ending the regular season on a 12-game unbeaten string. The Generals will likely be the sixth seed for the upcoming Division II tournament.
Jordan Shatney and Rachel Russell scored for Stark, which dominated most of the play against Con-Val (4-11-1).
Becca Titcomb, Kaitlin Landry and Bri LeGrand held down the midfield, while Kelsey Johnstone, Elizabeth Neal and Chloe Loos solidified the defense in front of Madison Janelle, who earned the shutout.
John Stark 2, Con-Val 1, Ot
The Generals (7-9) ruined the Cougars' homecoming and saved their season at the same time, rallying to win in overtime and punch their postseason ticket.
"I'm very proud of them," Coach Jeff Vogt said. "They never quit. They hang around and hang around and wait for that opportunity. They find a way to win."
Stark got the victory on a designed play, as Will Pineault, playing his first game in two weeks, settled the ball 35 yards out and played a diagonal pass to the left. Josh Morin was waiting for the ball, and he turned and found the net with his shot for the winner.
The Cougars (8-6-2) scored 13:40 into the game, but Stark answered less than a minute later when Camden Williams put the ball over the top of the defense and Brandon Dugay beat the keeper and headed it into the open net.
"That was huge for us to respond that quickly," Vogt said.
Hollis-Brookline 5, Mv 1
Merrimack Valley (2-13-1) closed out its season with a loss on the road.
Freshman Tim Bortnick scored his first varsity goal at the end of the first half to keep MV in the game, 2-1, at the break, but the Cavaliers (12-1-3) scored on a free kick and a corner early in the second half to take charge.
Johnathin Bailey made 10 saves in the nets for MV, with Cam Bailey and Cody Nixon leading the defense. Mitch Hemlin and Bibek Thapa were strong in the midfield, and Patrick Zlatunic and Jarrett Davis pressed well as attackers.
Concord Christian 2, Wilton-Lyndeborough 0
The Kingsmen (1-15) ended the season on a strong note, beating Wilton-Lyndeborough (5-11) for their first victory.
Adam Sylvester headed in a cross from Jonathan Taylor in the 26th minute to give Concord Christian the early lead. The Kingsmen continued to apply pressure until James Judd added an insurance marker in the 76th minute on a shot from about 20 yards out.
The Kingsmen defense had an outstanding day, led by Colin Lockwood and Joe Campbell. Nick Peters tallied his first shutout of the season and had another great game in goal. Paul Choi and Payton Schroeder controlled the midfield.