Mission accomplished: After seven-year journey, John Stark field hockey reaches the pinnacle

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  •   John Stark goalie Edie Fischer raises her arm in celebration with her teammates at Bedford High School at the D-II Field Hockey Championship on Sunday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • John Stark midfielder Aubrey Fischer jumps to avoid getting hit by the ball by Souhegan midfielder Chloe Luongo during the second half on Sunday. John Stark won the school’s first field hockey title. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • John Stark midfielder Aubrey Fischer lifts up the D-II Championship trophy as her teammates celebrate after defeating Souhegan at Bedford High School on Sunday. GEOFF FORESTERMonitor staff

  • Souhegan forward Ella Barrett is denied as John Stark goalie Edie Fischer kicks the ball out during the second half at Bedford High School at the D-II Field Hockey Championship on Sunday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Souhegan forward Isabelle Brandt is denied as John Stark goalie Edie Fischer shoves the ball out during the second half at Bedford High School at the D-II Field Hockey Championship on Sunday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • John Stark midfielder Aubrey Fischer lifts up the D-II championship trophy as her teammates celebrate after defeating Souhegan at Bedford High School on Sunday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • John Stark goalie Edie Fischer celebrates after winning the game at Bedford High School at the D-II field hockey championship on Sunday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • John Stark forward Caylin Worthen works between two Souhegan players during the fourth quarter at the D-II field hockey championship on Sunday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 10/30/2022 3:49:04 PM

BEDFORD – It’s a moment Dennis Pelletier and Gretchen Guevin will always remember. The scramble for the ball near the 50-yard line, the clock winding down, the players running onto the field, a very long hug. Seven years after they started a youth field hockey program in Weare, Pelletier and Guevin could finally celebrate. No. 1 John Stark (16-0-1) was Division II field hockey champions.

Courtney Cranshaw’s goal, coming just 2:33 into the game, held up the entire way in the Generals’ 1-0 win. No. 2 Souhegan (15-1-1) didn’t lack opportunities. But bad luck coupled with stalwart goaltending from John Stark’s Edie Fischer kept the Sabers out of the net.

“Our defense really cracked down, and Edie was fabulous in goal today,” Pelletier said. “We pretty much had a goalie rotation going all season, but we got to the playoffs, and we just ran with Edie for that reason.”

Setting the tone with Cranshaw’s early goal was also key because when the Generals played Souhegan in the regular season, the Sabers scored first, requiring John Stark to fight uphill for most of the game. This time, it was the opposite sequence.

“We knew we had to come out hot,” Guevin said. “Both teams are incredibly skilled, and to do that was huge for us.”

Fischer, whose older sisters Aubrey and Reagan are also on the team, was locked in from the opening whistle until the final horn. Her best moments came late in the second quarter and down the stretch in the fourth when Souhegan flooded the front of the net with opportunities.

John Stark’s nucleus — it’s defense — held true.

“Our defense is lights out,” Guevin said. “They are an incredible brick wall to try to get through. We really adjusted well to make sure we were getting back.”

Even in the final 6:10, after Pelletier used his timeout and Souhegan was poised for a final push, the confidence on the field never wavered.

“All year long, we’ve talked about how every game when we cross those white lines, we believe we’re gonna win,” Pelletier said. “They proved that today.”

While a D-II championship is something John Stark has aimed for — and quite frankly, expected — all season, actually experiencing that triumph, with all the work it’s taken over the last seven years, was hard to anticipate.

As the team waited to receive its championship plaque and individual medals, Pelletier stood on the sideline, thinking back to when he met with Guevin at Dunkin’ Donuts in Weare in 2015, trying to figure out how to start a youth field hockey program in town.

Now, John Stark field hockey has reached the mountaintop.

“It’s unbelievable, it really is,” Cranshaw, the lone goal-scorer, said. “I kinda knew we could make it here, but it happening is crazy.”

Added Fischer: “We act like a family when we get out there. If someone’s having a rough day, we cheer them up. If we’re having a great day, we spread that through all of us. It just bounces off each other. It’s a family environment, which I love.”

That togetherness, that unity, was indisputably the DNA of this program, and it all started at the top.

“He’s like a brother to me,” Guevin said of her relationship with Pelletier. “We’ve been by each other’s sides for the first time coaching. … The plan came together.”




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