Ryan nets late goal, Gilford field hockey captures Division III state title

  • Gilford forward Kellie Ryan lines up her game-winning shot in double overtime to give the Golden Eagles their first state championship in nearly 20 years. Gilford beat Pelham, 1-0, at Bedford High School on Sunday for the title. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Gilford teammates surround goalie Jenna Delucca after the Golden Eagles shut out Pelham 1-0 in overtime Sunday at Bedford high school. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Gilford’s Kellie Ryan (5) and Kaitlyn Vanbennekum (31) look up to the crowd at Bedford High School after Ryan scored the game-winning goal in double overtime against Pelham for the D-III state championship. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Gilford’s defense was outstanding all game long as goalie Jenna Delucca knocks the ball out during the second overtime against Pelham at Beford high school Sunday afternoon. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Gilford forward Kellie Ryan follows through on her goal-winning shot as she catches Pelham goalie Ryan Atkins flat-footed in overtime to score the only goal at Beford high school Sunday. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 10/31/2016 1:05:11 AM

BEDFORD – For three straight seasons she stood on the sideline at the end of a crucial tournament game and watched the other team spill onto the field in celebration. Three seasons of torment, three years of close calls and what ifs and three separate occasions where Gilford High School’s Kellie Ryan was denied a title.

That ended on Sunday.

Behind a dominant defense and a freshman goalie, the Golden Eagles finally ended a near 20-year title drought as Ryan shook free from a Pelham defender and rattled home the game-winning goal in double overtime to propel No. 2 Gilford over the fourth-seeded Pythons in the Division III field hockey state championship game at Bedford High School on Sunday.

It was a fitting end to the senior’s career as her late-game heroics with 4:51 remaining brought a field hockey state championship back to Gilford for the first time since 1998.

“It really means everything,” Ryan said moments after the awards ceremony. “My freshman year we got out in the Final Four. Last year we got to the championship and it was just tough for us to lose last year. Then, getting back here and actually winning and having that final step up to finally get it, it just means everything.”

Ryan and the Golden Eagles have certainly waited their turn. In 2013, Gilford suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to Berlin in the semifinals. The next season, Gilford again reached the semifinals, only to be handed another overtime loss – this time a 2-1 defeat against Hopkinton. Last season was supposed to be the Golden Eagles year with a senior-heavy roster and the young players to match, but Berlin dispatched them in the championship game.

Those players who returned didn’t forget that feeling, and a season later and a year wiser, they delivered on the biggest stage.

“I think this is the one that I never thought was going to happen,” Gilford Coach Dave Rogacki said. “We figured maybe we’re a year away because of the kids new to the experience, but they got the experience as we kept going.”

The title isn’t the first for Rogacki – who served as the longtime assistant coach alongside Len Lavin during Winnisquam Regional’s glory days – but it’s certainly a special one.

“Even though I’ve had other ones, this was one of those ones that’s really sweet,” Rogacki said. “I can still remember that very first one and the ball hitting the back of that net, but this was so sweet for all these young kids because that was a great thing.”

While the Pythons (15-3) did a good job limiting Gilford’s scoring chances for the majority of the game and shutting down sophomore Bri Salanitro, who had been rolling with five goals in the Golden Eagles’ two previous postseason games, Gilford’s defense returned the favor.

Pelham didn’t generate its first penalty corner until the 9:48 mark of the first overtime period and anytime it did manage to get inside the circle, Gilford freshman goalie Jenna Delucca was there to turn the shots away.

Delucca finished with six saves and was a big reason the Golden Eagles only allowed six goals all season en route to a championship.

“She’s a really super hard worker and to have a goalie that’s hard worker is a really good example for the rest of the team,” Rogacki said. “It’s like, hey, if she’s working that hard, then you guys better be working that hard, and we do. She gets beat up every practice and she gets frustrated, but again, for a freshman to have that moment is great.”

After the conclusion of regulation where the teams shifted to seven-on-seven and the field opened up, the Pythons began to gain traction offensively. Four corners in the first overtime resulted in a few scares for the Gilford sideline, but no goals. It was the same story in the early stages of the second overtime with Delucca stopping a flurry of shots – the last with a kick save off the pads – to keep the game scoreless.

It wasn’t until the final five minutes that things began to heat up. Gilford’s Jillian Lachapelle narrowly missed a chance to end the game when she failed to get her stick on a ball dancing across the goal line through a sea of defenders, but Ryan would make up for it a few moments later.

Running down the field towards the Pythons’ net, Ryan took a long pass from Salanitro and sprinted in front of a Pelham defender, who had made a lunge forward for the ball. Once Ryan broke free, there wasn’t a defender in sight as she easily sunk the shot.

“I had the ball and I was just like if I don’t get this, either (Salanitro) has to get it, or it’s one of our only chances to shoot so I just really knew it had to be good,” Ryan said. “I think the girl who was supposed to stay back had gone up to get the ball so since I cut in front of her, I knew that I had no defenders and was able to get a clear shot of the goal.”

Gilford’s incredible ride ends with a state title and a 15-1 overall record, a four-year senior capping off a decorated career and a freshman goalie who’s just getting started leaving her mark.

“With freshmen, you kind of wonder if the moment is going to be bigger than what it really is and I think the seniors helped with that because even in practice these last few days, we just did our regular practice,” Rogacki said. “We didn’t talk anything special about this or that, we just said, hey, we know what kind of team they are and let’s go out and do this.”

The Golden Eagles certainly did.

(Jay McAree can be reached at 369-3340, jmcaree@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JayMcAree.)


No. 6 Belmont 1, No. 3 Gilford 0

Key players: Belmont – Logan Wilder (goal), Doug Price (midfield play), Zach Ennis (midfield), Ryan Gelinas (midfield), Corey Derosier (defense), Tyler Fleming (defense), Chris Marden (defense), Jonny Leclair (eight saves)

Highlights/key moments: Wilder put away the game-winning goal on a free kick from outside the 18 with a laser shot into the net to give No. 6 Belmont the upset victory over No. 3 Gilford in the D-III quarterfinals. Derosier anchored the defense from center and kept the box clear. Leclair controlled every ball that broke through the Belmont defense, and was especially big in quieting the Gilford attack in the second half. The Raiders evened their record to 1-1-1 against Gilford this season. Sixth-seeded Belmont will face No. 2 Stevens on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Laconia High School in the semifinals.

Coach’s quote: “It was a tough battle for 80 minutes and both teams played a hard-fought game.” – Belmont’s Mike Foley

Records: Belmont 14-3-1; Gilford 14-3-1

No. 5 Hopkinton 5, No. 13 Inter-Lakes 0

Key players: Hopkinton – Gerry Donahue (2 goals), Max Rossignol (goal, assist), Dustin Rose (2 goals, assist), Jacob Rockwood (2 assists); Inter-Lakes – Hunter Sanders (11 saves)

Highlights/key moments: The Hawks dominated time of possession and the scoreboard, using three second-half goals to finish off the Lakers in the quarterfinals. Hopkinton takes on top-seeded Derryfield in the semifinals on Wednesday.

Records: Hopkinton 15-3; Inter-Lakes 7-9-2


No. 3 Pinkerton 2, Concord 1, OT

Key players: Concord – Grace Devanny (goal), Stephanie Oberg (15 saves)

Highlights/key moments: Concord opened the scoring in the 20th minute on a goal for Devanny and held that 1-0 edge late into the second half. Pinkerton tied the game in the 72nd minute and notched the winning goal in overtime.

Coach’s quote: “I was extremely pleased with effort our team put forth and the way they competed.” – Concord’s Jeremy Duclos

Records: Concord 12-6; Pinkerton 14-3

No. 2 Bow 2, No. 7 Goffstown 1, OT

Key players: Bow – Malena Lafrenierre (goal), Gianna Celenza (assist), Bridget Ehrenberg (goalkeeper)

Highlights/key moments: Ehrenberg made a diving save to prevent a goal and came up with big saves during penalty kicks to keep the Falcons’ season alive. Bow matches up with No. 3 John Stark in the semifinals on Thursday.

Coach’s quote: “We didn’t start off great, but overall the girls played an outstanding game. It was great to get a lead and even though we gave it up on a 40-yard laser, I am most proud of how the girls did not get down but continued to fight for the win.” – Bow’s Jay Vogt

Records: Bow 15-3; Goffstown 13-5

No. 3 John Stark 2, No. 6 Portsmouth 1, OT

Key players: Stark – Brooke Shatney (goal), Cara Easter (goal), Cady Loos, Jocelyn Dimond

Highlights/key moments: Shatney scored with three minutes left in regulation to tie the game where Easter netted the game-winner to send the Generals into the Final Four. Stark gets No. 2 Bow in the semifinals on Thursday.

Coach’s quote: “The Lady Generals dominated the play against Portsmouth only giving up five shots, yet ended up trailing the entire game ... today the Generals showed their character as a team.” – Stark’s Heather Doucette

Records: Stark 15-3; Portsmouth 13-5

No. 5 Oyster River 3, No. 13 Pembroke 0

Highlights/key moments: Following an upset win over No. 4 Windham in the first round, the Spartans ran out of magic against Oyster River, which blanked Pembroke to advance to the semifinals.

Records: Oyster River 14-3; Pembroke 9-8-1


No. 2 Concord 3, No. 7 Salem 2

Key players: Concord – Caitlyn Shea (49 assists), Lauren Hatch (33 kills, 16 digs), Maria Wimpey (16 digs, 11 kills)

Highlights/key moments: Hatch became the second player in the state to surpass the 1,000 career kills mark in a match that came down to the wire. Concord won the first two sets, 25-12 and 25-12, dropped sets three and four and bounced back for a 15-9 victory in the decisive fifth set. The Crimson Tide take on No. 3 Dover in the semifinals on Wednesday.

Coach’s quote: “Very well fought match. I have nothing but respect for the Salem program and their tenacity.” – Concord’s Jonathan Flower

Records: Concord 17-2; Salem 13-7

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