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MV field hockey topples Souhegan to reach Final Four

Ten years ago, the Merrimack Valley High field hockey team traveled to Amherst and hung a stunning 2-1 quarterfinal loss on top-ranked and previously undefeated Souhegan.

Flash forward to yesterday, and the Valley was at it again, traveling to Amherst to take on the Sabers in the quarterfinals of the Division II tournament. And though the upset wasn’t quite as shocking, sixth-ranked MV (11-4-1) once again came away with a 2-1 victory over No. 3 Souhegan (11-3-1) to stamp its ticket into the Final Four. The Pride will take on No. 2 Lebanon (12-1-2) in Thursday’s 5 p.m. semifinal at Exeter’s Bill Ball Stadium.

“We have a huge history with Souhegan in the playoffs,” MV Coach Kim Kenney said, “and we have been very lucky with the outcome of those games.”

Though the Sabers were the higher seed, the MV victory wasn’t so shocking, considering the Pride beat Souhegan in overtime during the regular season. And yesterday’s rematch played out much the same, only without the extra time.

Cassidy Huckins got MV on the scoreboard first, converting a corner with an assist from Olivia Thurber 14:29 into the first half. The score stood until 12:22 into the second half, when Souhegan evened things up.

“Sometimes when you’re scored on you notice players’ shoulders going down, but there were no shoulders down. I didn’t notice any air coming out of the bubble,” Kenney said. “It’s 60 minutes. It’s only a tie, it’s not like we went down.”

Indeed, it took the Pride less than three minutes to respond and regain its lead, and again it was thanks to a well-executed corner. This time, Erin Frost found the back of the cage with an assist from Izzy Hoyt.

“We put some time into corners (at practice), but not a lot,” Kenney said. “They’ve worked for us this year, more than any other year that I can remember.”

Meanwhile, MV’s cohesive team defense kept Souhegan at bay, even though the Sabers responded with some urgency in the waning minutes.

“The last 10 seconds I basically had my eyes closed,” Kenney said. “I heard a whistle and said to one of the players, ‘please tell me that’s not a corner.’ When she said it was our ball, I knew we had it then.”

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