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Previews of local schools’ NHIAA playoff matchups

High school tournaments today

Field hockey

Division II championship

At Bedford H.S.

No. 6 Merrimack Valley (12-4-1) vs.
No. 1 Windham (14-1-1), 2:30 p.m.

Head to head: Windham beat MV, 4-1, in Penacook.

Previous tournament games: MV blanked No. 11 Milford, 2-0, then upset No. 3 Souhegan, 2-1, and No. 2 Lebanon, 1-0. After receiving a bye, Windham blanked No. 8 Plymouth, 2-0, and escaped No. 5 St. Thomas, 3-2 in overtime.

Notes: The Pride enters this game brimming with confidence after knocking off two higher-seeded teams to make it to Bedford. It wasn’t a fluke; MV went undefeated against Souhegan and Lebanon in three games during the regular season. A win today would complete the hat trick of taking down the teams with the top three records in Division II, but the Jaguars pose a stiffer challenge than MV’s last two victims. Windham crushed the Pride in its third game of the season and has sported an airtight defense all year, one that posted 10 shutouts and allowed more than one goal only once. Against the Raiders, MV’s offense came and went, alternating between controlling the ball and dominating play in the Lebanon end to spending much of the second half trying to fend off the Raiders’ aggressive attack. Such lapses won’t be affordable against the Jaguars, who, with five or more goals in seven games, can rack up the points themselves. The onus to figuring out the Windham defense will fall to playmakers Lily Davis and Erin Frost, while Olivia Thurber (who scored the lone goal), Isabel Hoyt and Autumn Hoyt also had effective games in the semifinal victory.

Boys’ soccer

Division I quarterfinals

No. 5 Exeter (11-4-2) at
No. 4 Concord (13-2-2), 1 p.m.

Head to head: The teams tied, 1-1, early in the season.

Previous tournament games: Exeter blanked No. 12 Bedford, 3-0. Concord edged No. 13 Keene, 1-0.

Notes: The Crimson Tide held a 28-6 advantage in shots during the regular-season meeting with Exeter back on Sept. 3, and held a 1-0 lead until the Blue Hawks scored with six minutes remaining in regulation. Concord also had a penalty kick in the final seconds of overtime, but couldn’t convert. So the Crimson Tide will enter this rematch with plenty of confidence, but also wary of an Exeter team that went 6-2 in the second half of the season with its only losses coming against top-seeded Hanover (1-0) and No. 2 Alvirne (4-1). Those teams happen to be the only two that have blemished Concord’s record (10-1-1) in the last 12 games – the Tide lost to Alvirne (2-1) and tied Hanover (0-0).

Division II quarterfinals

No. 6 Portsmouth (12-2-3) at
No. 3 Pembroke (14-2-1), 2 p.m.

Head to head: The teams tied, 1-1, in Portsmouth.

Previous tournament games: Portsmouth stopped No. 11 Coe-Brown, 4-2. Pembroke rolled past No. 14 Plymouth, 6-1.

Notes: The high-scoring Spartans averaged 3.7 goals per game this season and they showed off their offensive firepower against Plymouth on Thursday as Aaron Locke netted three goals, Parker Heath finished with two and Justus Turk had one, while Jeremy Caruso finished with three assists. Turk was Pembroke’s goal scorer in the regular-season meeting with Portsmouth, which averaged 2.7 goals per game this season. The Clippers posted four straight shutouts to end the season, but then gave up those two goals in their playoff win against Coe-Brown. There’s always a chance for a defensive struggle when two quality soccer teams meet, but it seems like the winner in this one will need to score multiple goals.

Division III quarterfinals

No. 8 Laconia (12-5-0) at
No. 1 Hopkinton (16-0-1), 2 p.m.

Head to head: The teams did not meet during the regular season.

Previous tournament games: Laconia edged No. 9 Kearsarge, 4-3. Hopkinton blanked No. 17 Somersworth, 6-0.

Notes: The Hawks have enough talent and skill to overwhelm opponents, but they’ve also shown a knack for finding goals at crucial moments in tight games, and they did a little bit of both in Thursday’s playoff win against Somersworth. After a scoreless first half, Hopkinton found that critical first goal three minutes into the second half (Zach Rouleau from Riley McNicholas) and then scored three more times in the next 20 minutes to put the game out of reach. Not only has the Hawks offense been on fire recently (30 goals in the last five games), Hopkinton and keeper Rob Ferguson have allowed only two goals in the last 14 games. Laconia has put together a nice season, but the Sachems had all they could handle against Kearsarge, a team Hopkinton beat twice this year, 5-0 both times.

No. 7 White Mountains (13-4-0) at
No. 2 Bow (15-1-1), 2 p.m.

Head to head: The teams did not meet during the regular season.

Previous tournament games: White Mountains nipped No. 10 Berlin, 2-1. Bow shut out No. 18 Campbell, 3-0.

Notes: The big, physical Falcons and keeper Tim Bradley gave up only two goals in October, and one of those was in the last minute of regulation in a 1-1 tie against top-ranked Hopkinton. That defense, also anchored by seniors Mitchell Blair and David Merchan, posted its 10th shutout of the year Thursday against Campbell. The Falcons got two goals from Chris Ketcham in that playoff win, making seven goals in the last six games for the senior forward. But it’s hard to single out any one player on the Bow roster since the Falcons are loaded with quality talent all over the field and on the bench, depth that will likely prove valuable today and for the remainder of the tournament.

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