Previews of local schools’ NHIAA playoff matchups
High school tournaments today
Division III semifinals
At Bill Ball Stadium, Exeter
No. 4 Hopkinton (14-2-0) vs.
No. 1 Derryfield (16-0-0), 7 p.m.
Previous tournament games: Hopkinton posted shutouts over No. 13 Somersworth, 4-0, and No. 5 Newfound, 2-0. Derryfield had shutout wins over No. 16 Mascoma, 6-0, and No. 9 Stevens, 3-0.
Head to head: Derryfield beat Hopkinton, 4-0, in the next-to-last game of the regular season.
Notes: Hopkinton already avenged one of its two losses by beating Newfound in the quarterfinals. Now the Hawks have a chance to avenge the other when it takes on top-ranked and undefeated Derryfield, the three-time defending champion who is on a 29-game winning streak. It won’t be an easy task. Though Hopkinton has posted eight shutouts, including seven in its last eight games, the Cougars have been perfect, not allowing a single goal all season, and Derryfield’s explosive offense averages 4.56 goals per game. The Hawks’ Maddy Bergethon has been impenetrable in the postseason, making 12 saves in the quarterfinal win. She’ll need to be on top of her game again against Derryfield, while offensive catalysts Brittany Marshall, Ireland Tawney and Courtney Crouch – three of the hottest sticks in the postseason – will be called on to try to break the Cougars’ shutout and winning streaks.
Division I first round
No. 12 Concord (7-9-0) at
No. 5 Merrimack (10-4-2), 3 p.m.
Head to head: Concord beat Merrimack, 4-0, on Sept. 19.
Notes: When Concord blanked the Tomahawks in mid-September, it started a stretch of four games in which Merrimack was outscored 16-5 and suffered all of its losses. In its other 12 games, Merrimack allowed just 0.75 goals per game, posting shutouts in four of its last five entering the postseason. Concord is on the cusp of breaking into the top teams in Division I, with five of its losses by a single goal. If the Tide can break through early in the tournament, it could make some noise.
Division II first round
No. 12 Oyster River (7-7-2) at
No. 5 Coe-Brown (10-4-2), 3 p.m.
Head to head: The teams split during the season, with Oyster River winning, 2-1, in early September and Coe-Brown taking the rematch, 1-0, in early October.
Notes: One thing’s for sure: Coe-Brown should be ready for whatever the postseason has in store, after playing to double overtime in each of its first four games of the season and having just two games decided by more than a single goal. The Bears have been fairly stingy defensively, yielding less than a goal per game on average and never allowing more than two goals. The Bobcats take a similar defensive approach, also giving up less than a goal per game while posting eight shutouts. In this battle of wills, an opportune bounce could decide it.
No. 9 Pembroke (10-6-0) at
No. 8 Merrimack Valley (8-3-5), 3 p.m.
Head to head: The teams split during the season, with MV winning on its home turf, 4-0, and Pembroke taking the rematch, 3-2.
Notes: After a slow start out of the gates – Pembroke lost its first three games of the season – the Spartans rattled off seven straight wins, including four straight shutouts, to jump back into contention. Up Route 3, Merrimack Valley has been in plenty of close games, with four of its wins the only games decided by more than a goal. With top-ranked Portsmouth likely awaiting the winner in the quarterfinals, you won’t catch these two looking past this meeting of rivals.
No. 11 John Stark (6-6-4) at
No. 6 Goffstown (10-4-2), 3 p.m.
Head to head: Stark beat Goffstown, 2-1, late in the season.
Notes: The Generals are red hot coming into the postseason, going undefeated (4-0-2) over its final six games, including the win over Goffstown. The Grizzlies started the season hot, going 5-0-1, but have evened off in October. This is shaping up as a matchup of Stark’s stingy defense against Goffstown’s opportunistic offense. The Generals allowed just 1.25 goals per game this season, while the Grizzlies have scored an average of 3.56 goals per game.
Division III first round
No. 16 Kearsarge (3-11-2) at
No. 1 Bow (16-0-0), 3 p.m.
Head to head: Bow swept the season series, winning 8-0 and 9-0.
Notes: By all accounts, this should be a typical 16-vs.-1 matchup, with Bow taking control early. In their two regular-season wins over Kearsarge, the Falcons scored more goals (17) than the Cougars did all season (14). The fact that Bow has allowed just four goals and posted 13 shutouts makes the task all the more daunting for Kearsarge. But the Cougars have shown promise in beating and tying fourth-ranked Stevens during the season.
No. 15 Gilford (5-10-1) at
No. 2 Belmont (13-2-1), 3 p.m.
Head to head: Belmont swept the series, winning 2-0 and 1-0.
Notes: Belmont began the season with nine straight wins and continued its march with only a couple of blemishes on its record. The Raiders lost to No. 3 Hopkinton and No. 14 Somersworth and tied Laconia, which failed to make the tournament. Belmont posted shutouts in nine games, including its final four, to enter the postseason with a 0.625 goals-against average. Gilford won three of its final four to carry some momentum into the postseason.
No. 14 Somersworth (7-9-0) at
No. 3 Hopkinton (12-2-2), 3 p.m.
Head to head: Hopkinton blanked Somersworth, 4-0, in the regular-season finale.
Notes: The defending champs were dominant throughout the season, posting 10 shutouts and allowing more than one goal on just three occasions – the two losses to undefeated Bow and a tie with No. 7 Campbell. And though the Hawks handled the Toppers just a week ago, they know they can’t take them lightly. Somersworth counts among its wins a victory over second-ranked Belmont.
No. 10 Bishop Brady (8-7-1) at
No. 7 Campbell (11-4-1), 3 p.m.
Head to head: Campbell beat Brady, 3-2, two weeks ago.
Notes: The Giants have had a back-and-forth season, never winning more than three games in a row and never losing more than two in a row. Most of the Giants’ wins have come when they’ve put up big offensive numbers, so Brady will hope to get on the scoreboard early to set the tone. Campbell will be a formidable opponent, however. The Cougars reached the Final Four last year and come in having won six of their last seven games.
No. 13 Hillsboro-Deering (7-8-1) at
No. 4 Stevens (9-1-4), 3 p.m.
Head to head: The teams did not meet during the regular season.
Notes: Stevens has a nice record, but it shouldn’t intimidate H-D. Stevens beat only two Division III tournament teams all season and didn’t play anyone in the top seven. The Hillcats, on the other hand, had six games against top-eight teams, playing third-ranked Hopkinton to within a goal. In nine games, H-D allowed no more than one goal, which will be key if they want to advance.
Division IV first round
No. 13 Pittsfield (6-10-0) at
No. 4 Newmarket (12-4-0), 3 p.m.
Head to head: The teams split during the season, with Pittsfield winning, 1-0, at home and losing, 2-0, at Newmarket.
Notes: The Panthers struggled some offensively this season, being shut out seven times. When they’ve scored, they’ve scored in bunches, averaging 3.67 goals in their six wins. Newmarket isn’t easy to score on, having 10 shutouts under its belt, so defense will be key for Pittsfield to keep the game close while it tries to break through offensively.
No. 14 Concord Christian (2-12-2) at
No. 3 Sunapee (13-2-1), 3 p.m.
Head to head: Sunapee won both meetings, 4-0 and 7-0.
Notes: An uphill battle awaits the Lady Kingsmen, who face a Sunapee team that allowed a total of just six goals all season and posted 12 shutouts. Concord Christian began to find its scoring touch with more consistency late in the season, scoring in four of its final six games. It will need to carry that momentum into the postseason to have a chance at the upset.