High school field hockey: Concord, Brady, Hopkinton all prepping for semifinals

  • Concord High field hockey players Ella Doherty (right) and Alice Rosenberg (left) react after the Crimson Tide’s 2-0 Division I quarterfinal playoff win in Londonderry on Friday. Doherty scored a goal for No. 5 Concord, which will face No. 8 Merrimack in Tuesday’s semifinals, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. TIM O’SULLIVAN file / Monitor staff

  • Concord’s Erin Doherty (left) and Londonderry’s Tara Wright (right) battle for the ball during Friday’s Division I field hockey quarterfinal in Londonderry. No. 5 Concord won, 2-0, and will face No. 8 Merrimack in Tuesday’s semifinals. TIM O’SULLIVAN file / Monitor staff

  • Hopkinton’s Madeleine Maughan (left) looks up field during Saturday’s Division III field quarterfinal in Contoocook. Maughan had an assist as the Hawks claimed a 3-1 win against No. 8 Mascenic, 3-1. No. 1 Hopkinton (14-1) will now face No. 5 Mascoma (13-3) in Wednesday’s D-III semifinals at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Mascoma beat the Hawks in last year’s final, 1-0. TIM O’SULLIVAN file / Monitor staff

  • Hopkinton’s Julia Baer pushes the ball ahead of Mascenic’s Jade Traffie during Saturday’s Division III field quarterfinal in Contoocook. Hopkinton senior Katie Meserve scored three goals to lead the Hawks to a 3-1 win and a spot in Wednesday’s semifinals, where No. ! Hopkinton (14-1) will meet No. 5 Mascoma (13-3) in Wednesday’s D-III semifinals at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Mascoma beat the Hawks in last year’s final, 1-0. TIM O’SULLIVAN / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 10/28/2019 7:59:27 PM

Last year, the Hopkinton field hockey team reached the Division III final before losing to a buzzsaw from Mascoma, 1-0. On Wednesday, the Hawks will again meet Mascoma with the season on the line, this time in the semifinals at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter.

“Our whole mood for all of the playoffs is we’re in it to win it,” Hopkinton’s Kate Bouchard said. “This is our comeback season. We’re determined.”

The Hawks have looked determined all season, compiling a 14-1 record and earning the top seed in D-III. The No. 5 Royals lost some key pieces from last year’s team, but they’re still 13-3 and riding an 11-game winning streak.

These teams met during the regular season on Sept. 10 in Hopkinton and the Hawks came away with a 2-1 win on goals from sophomore Natalie Allen and senior Katie Meserve, who also scored all three goals in Hopkinton’s 3-1 quarterfinal win against No. 8 Mascenic on Saturday.

That Sept. 10 result began a string of three straight losses for Mascoma, but all three were on the road and against top-notch competition: Hopkinton, Newfound (the No. 2 seed in the D-III tournament) and Hanover (the No. 2 seed in the D-II tournament). Since its 4-3 loss at Hanover on Sept. 18, the Royals have won every time they stepped on the field. During that 11-game stretch, which includes a 6-2 first-round playoff win vs. No. 12 Winnisquam and a 2-1 quarterfinal decision at No. 4 Lebanon, Mascoma is scoring 4.5 goals per game and allowing just 0.5.

The only blemish on Hopkinton’s record this season is a 2-0 loss at Gilford on Sept. 25. The Hawks are averaging 3.5 goals per game for the season and allowing 0.9 per contest.

Wednesday’s semifinal will be played on a turf field, and some of the Royals have experience with the turf field at Colby-Sawyer College. That might be an advantage, but the Hawks are looking forward to playing on the artificial surface at Bill Ball Stadium.

“I like turf, and I really feel like our team will perform even better on turf,” Bouchard said. “We like being a fast-playing team, slight touches, not a lot of dribbling, so I feel like the passes are going to be a lot faster and a lot stronger on turf.”

The two teams will also have to adjust to playing under the lights and a scheduled start time of 7 p.m., much later than regular-season field hockey.

“It’s all going to have to be mind over matter and making sure we are mentally prepared for the later game,” Hopkinton coach Kate Hohenberger said. “We’re not going right after school, so we have to stay connected as a team. We need to make sure that we’re ready to go as soon as the whistle blows at 7 o’clock and sticks are down and we’re going hard.”

That start time will depend on the finish of the first semifinal, which features another local team, No. 3 Bishop Brady (14-2) taking on No. 2 Newfound (13-2).

Brady has already exacted a measure of revenge from last year’s playoffs. The Giants lost to Gilford in the 2018 quarterfinals, but this year they beat Gilford, 1-0, in the quarterfinals.

Brady sophomore Libbey Hicks scored the only goal in that one, and the Giants got solid defensive work from Raelyn Roberts, Samantha Weir, Michaella Savary, Kathryn Weed, Riley Marsh and Ashlyn Toupin, who is a force all over the field for Brady. Toupin, a First Team D-III pick last year as a sophomore, had a goal and two assists in the Giants’ 5-0 first-round playoff win against No. 14 Laconia. Hicks had three goals and an assist in that contest.

Newfound, the 2017 champs, opened this season with a nine-game winning streak that included a 3-1 decision against Brady on Sept. 20 in Bristol. Newfound dropped two of its last five games – 2-1 at Lebanon on Oct. 3 and 3-2 vs. Berlin on Oct. 9 – but still earned the No. 2 seed and the first-round bye that comes with it. And the Bears have already avenged one of those losses by beating No. 7 Berlin, 1-0, in the quarterfinals.

Division I

After the Concord field hockey team ended the month of September with three losses in four games, the Crimson Tide might not have looked like a final four team. But instead of focusing on the losses, the Tide focused on improving, and now No. 5 Concord (11-4) will face No. 8 Merrimack (10-6) in Tuesday’s Division I semifinals, which are also at Bill Ball Stadium.

“People want to win, but I think you just try your best and things happen,” Concord coach Andrew Briers said. “So we just tried to perform every day, day in and day out, practice and games.”

Now that the Tide has reached the final four, the players aren’t changing that approach.

“We still have a long way to go,” Concord junior Maria Armaganian said. “But I think if we just work together it will work out for us.”

One of the teams Concord lost to during its slow stretch in September was Merrimack. Tide goalie Felicity Wheldon made several good saves to keep her team in that game, but the Tomahawks capitalized on their chances in the circle to take a 2-1 win on Sept. 20.

Concord has lost just once in the last month, 2-0 to Londonderry on Oct. 16, and the Tide more than made up for that loss by beating the Lancers, 2-0, in the quarterfinals. Armaganian scored the opening goal in that one and assisted senior captain Ella Doherty on the next goal. Sam Ossoff and Grace Leonard led Concord’s shutout defensive efforts in front of an active Wheldon.

Merrimack lost three of its last five regular-season games, but the Tomahawks have found their groove in the playoffs. They hammered No. 9 Manchester Memorial, 6-0, in the opening round and then upset No. 1 Pinkerton, 2-0, in the quarterfinals.

The winner of the Concord/Merrimack game, which is scheduled to start at 7 p.m., will face the winner of the 5 p.m. semifinal between No. 2 Windham (14-1) and No. 6 Bishop Guertin (11-5).

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