Preview capsule outlook of today’s high school tournament action
High school tournaments today
Division III championship
No. 2 John Stark (14-2) vs. No. 1 Derryfield (17-0), 7 p.m.
Previous tournament games: John Stark stopped No. 7 Kingswood, 11-10, and No. 3 Kearsarge, 9-7. Derryfield eased past No. 8 Plymouth, 15-6, and No. 4 Laconia, 13-6.
head to head: Derryfield beat Stark, 15-4, in the final week of the regular season.
Notes: The Generals’ run has one more stop to go – and it won’t be an easy one. Derryfield blitzed through Division III this year, scoring double-digit goals in each game (and at least 13 in all but one), and it defeated all but two teams during the regular season by at least nine goals. The Cougars are fast, explosive and stifling against the attack.
For that matter, however, so are the Generals. They own a balanced attack that’s filled top to bottom with players who can handle the scoring load when asked. Casey Poirier got the call in the semifinals against Kearsarge, scoring five goals, but Gianna Pezzulo, Danielle Galli, Samantha Valcourt and Lizzie Brandt have all been potent scorers for John Stark throughout the season. They’ll need to be on today to have a shot against the Cougars; they weren’t in the first matchup, and it was costly. Poirier scored twice in the loss but Galli and Emily Edwards were the only others to get on the board, and if Derryfield continues to shut down Stark’s weapons, the hill could be too steep to climb.
Should the Generals have the offense to hang with the top seed, it could come down to goaltending – something the semis suggested could also play into Stark’s hands. Clarissa Foote was terrific against Kearsarge, making 17 saves and saving her best stops for a tension-packed fourth quarter. If she can have her save percentage closer to that game’s 70.8, rather than her 44 percent mark from Stark’s first try against Derryfield, the Generals could be in position to pull off the upset and claim their first title in program history.
Division III semifinals
No. 14 Bow (12-7) vs. No. 2 Somersworth (16-2), 4 p.m.
Previous tournament games: Bow beat No. 19 Belmont, 9-2, upset No. 3 Monadnock, 2-0, and blanked No. 6 Pelham, 7-0. Somersworth downed No. 18 Gilford, 7-1, and No. 10 Hopkinton 16-6.
head to head: The Hilltoppers beat Bow, 9-2, on April 30.
Notes: The Falcons went just 2-4 in their final six games of the regular season, but they have captured some magic in the playoffs. Bow has used all three phases – pitching, hitting and defense – in its three playoff wins. Brendan Winch earned the pitching wins against Belmont and Pelham, and gave up just two hits in a complete-game effort against Pelham. The defense turned three timely double plays in the win against Monadnock. And the offense produced a big, early lead against Belmont with a gang of hits, generated two small-ball runs against Monadnock, and showed some power (three-run home run from Evan Vulgamore) to finish off Pelham. Freshman Connor Lorenz has driven in four runs in the last two games and senior Nate Corriveau has been effective at the plate and in the field.
The Falcons will need all of that working against Somersworth, one of the top programs in D-III. The Hilltoppers have been in three of the last four finals, although they have come up short on each occasion, losing to Winnisquam in 2010, Campbell in 2011 and Conant last year. After dropping the second game of this season to Laconia, Somersworth has gone 15-1, the only loss coming against top-ranked Campbell.