High schools: Portsmouth hands John Stark its first loss, 10-7

  • John Stark’s Meg Cole (8) drives toward the net to score the team’s fifth goal early in the second half of Tuesday’s contest against Portsmouth at New England College. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

  • John Stark’s Lexi Knapton (2) scores late during Tuesday’s game against Portsmouth at New England College. The goal was called back for a crease violation. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

  • John Stark’s Piper McClean (10) drives across the front of the net and scores against Portsmouth to put the Generals up 2-0 early in Tuesday’s game at New England College. Portsmouth handed Stark its first loss of the season, 10-7. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

Monitor staff
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

HENNIKER – The spring has been full of firsts for the John Stark girls’ lacrosse team. The Generals had never beaten Hollis Brookline … until they did, 13-8, on May 3. They had never beaten Hanover … until they did, 9-6, on May 7.

The final monster to slay was Portsmouth, the defending Division II champs who traveled to New England College’s Don Melander Turf Field on Tuesday to face Stark. The Generals took an early lead, had things tied in the second half and gave the Clippers a run late, but Portsmouth played with champion’s confidence, scored when it mattered most and came away with a 10-7 win.

The Clippers improve to 10-2 with the decision. Their only two losses came against the top two team in D-I – Pinkerton (14-0) and Souhegan (12-1). It was the first loss of the season for Stark (10-1), which came into the game as the undefeated first-place team. But make no mistake, the Clippers were the favorites.

“We’ve never come close to Portsmouth before. They smoked us in the past,” Stark coach John Warner said. “Last year we opened the season with them and it was 19-3, or 17-2, or something like that (it was 16-1). But this year we beat Hollis, we beat Hanover, so Portsmouth is another one we haven’t beaten, but we felt we could be there.”

The players certainly believed.

“We were actually pretty confident because we’ve been playing at such a high level all season,” Stark senior captain Jillian Douzanis said. “I felt like we had a really good chance, and we all felt like it, so having everyone on the team be so confident really helped.”

It may have been great having everyone confident, but it also would have been great just having everyone. The Generals were missing their leading scorer, Rylee Ledoux, who was taking part in the Air Force entrance process.

“That might have changed things a little bit,” Warner said of Ledoux’s absence. “It changes the way you run your offense. We worked yesterday in our game (a 13-1 win against Milford) without her for a while just to try to create something.”

Early on, it looked like they had created something. Stark took a 2-0 lead on goals from Meg Cole (four goals) and Piper MacLean, and it was 3-1 after Lexi Knapton scored on a free position shot with 15:35 left in the first half. But from there Portsmouth went on a 5-1 run, with four of the goals coming from Lily Madden (five goals), to take a 6-4 lead into halftime. 

“It was a really even first half and at that point the game can go either way,” Portsmouth coach Mary Squire said. “And the thing for us was really just to say, okay now you played a half for them, let’s play one for us. Lets settle down and lets get our offense running.”

Squire felt the first half was played at the fast pace the Generals prefer, and she thought her team never truly found its composed offensive rhythm. The Stark defense, led by captain Allie McKean, Autumn Nelson, Olivia Sohl and goalie Sam Porter (six saves), deserves plenty of credit for that. The Generals may have given up more than the 3.3 goals they were allowing per game coming in, but they still made life difficult for the Clippers, who are averaging 14.2 goals per game.

“So the things we generally have done well – good defense and our transition game – we did pretty well today against a team that’s hard to do any of that against,” Warner said.

Stark opened the second half with a 3-1 run, tying things at 7-7 with 21:45 left to play. All three goals belonged to Cole – two on free position shots that she earned with dodges to the cage and the third on a pretty pass from Douzanis.

“Meg Cole, who is just a freshman, she really stood out,” Douzanis said. “I think Rylee being out gave her a chance to shine.”

Portsmouth answered Cole’s third goal almost immediately to make it 8-7, but the scoring halted after that. The Generals even had a two-man advantage for 48 seconds, but they couldn’t find the tying goal before the Clippers scored with 6:19 left to push their lead to two.

It looked like Knapton trimmed the lead back to one with 2:50 left when she put one past Portsmouth goalie Grace Jackson (eight saves), but the official ruled she was in the crease and the goal was disallowed. Stark never had sustained possession after that and Madden finished the scoring with :33 remaining in the game.

The Generals were disappointed to blemish their record with a loss, but they were encouraged by their play.

“It kind of stinks because we were hoping to keep that undefeated record, but having such a close game against Portsmouth really showed us that we can play with anybody, so it actually helps boost our confidence,” Douzanis said. “I definitely think if we play them again we’ll have a great chance of winning.”

The Clippers certainly won’t be surprised if they see Stark again in the postseason.

“Those girls are scrappy and they battle,” Portsmouth’s Squire said of the Generals. “They gave us a great game, a great competition. Those kids work hard and they are hungry.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341, tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)BASEBALL

Laconia 10, Winnisquam 3

Key players: Laconia – Thomas Turpin (4 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 4 K; double, RBI), Bradley Weeks (2-for-3, 2 RBI), Tyler Richter (double, RBI); Winnisquam – Philip Nichols (2 hits, RBI)

Highlights/key moments: Turpin earned the win in his first career start on the mound for the Sachems.

Coach’s quote: “Eleven walks and seven errors won’t win many. It’s getting late and we have to play better. I believe we will.” – Winnisquam’s Fred Caruso

Records: Laconia 5-7; Winnisquam 4-9


Gilford 13, Laconia 0

Key players: Gilford – Jillian Lachapelle (2 hits), Alexis Lacroix (2 hits), Emily Smith (2 hits), Ella Harris (win, 5 IP, 2 H; hit), Callie McGreevy (hit), Randi Byars (hit)

Highlights/key moments:Colby Butterfield entered in relief in the fifth and recorded four strikeouts without a hit. The Golden Eagles exploded for six runs in the fourth inning for an 8-0 lead, highlighted by Harris’s two-run double.

Records: Gilford 9-3; Laconia 3-9


Bow 9, Gilford 0

Key players: Bow – Gwen Molind (8-1 win at No. 1 singles), Lara Chern (8-0 win at No. 2 singles), Olivia Parzick (8-2 win at No. 3 singles), Emma Conley (8-0 win at No. 4 singles), Miah Munro (8-1 win at No. 5 singles), Lauren Goyette (8-1 win at No. 6 singles)

Highlights/key moments: Molind and Chern won the first doubles match, 8-6; Parzick and Conley won No. 2 doubles, 8-0; and Munro and Goyette took the No. 3 doubles match, 8-0, to complete the sweep.

Records: Bow 11-0; Gilford 1-11

Inter-Lakes 6, White Mountains 2, Match 1

Key players: Inter-Lakes – Alyssa Floyd (8-0 win at No. 1 singles), Ava Duymazlar (8-2 win at No. 2 singles), Gabriele Nedeau (8-1 win at No. 3 singles), Ella St. Cyr (8-1 win at No. 5 singles)

Highlights/key moments: Floyd and Nedeau won their No. 1 doubles match, 8-2. St. Cyr and Phoebe Hoag won the third doubles match, 8-2.

Records: Inter-Lakes 10-3; White Mountains 3-9

Inter-Lakes 5, White Mountains 0, Match 2

Key players: Inter-Lakes – Alyssa Floyd (8-0 win at No. 1 singles), Ava Duymazlar (8-4 win at No. 2 singles), Gabriele Nedeau (8-0 win at No. 3 singles), Ella St. Cyr (8-2 win at No. 4 singles), Phoebe Hoag (8-5 win at No. 5 singles)

Highlights/key moments: The Lakers won both matches in their Monday doubleheader with White Mountains.

Records: Inter-Lakes 10-3; White Mountains 3-9


Concord first

Key players: Concord – Adam Dwight (1st pole vault), Colin Conery (1st 800), Liam Conery (1st 3,200), Manny Feliz (1st 110 hurdles), Jacob Nichol (1st 300 hurdles), Dalton Mutz (1st 400), Nate Hillyer (1st triple jump), Forest MacKenzie (1st 1,600)

Highlights/key moments: The Tide gathered 135 points, easily outscoring Nashua South (46) and Alvirne (31). Concord won the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

Coach’s quote: “We had a very strong meet, but today was about celebrating our seniors. These seniors are very special and many have been on our team for four years. They work hard, are very funny, incredibly smart and passionate. They will truly be missed for many reasons, but we are not done yet.” – Concord’s Hayden Daly


Concord third

Key players: Concord – Grace Devanny (1st 100), Kaitlin Jelley (1st triple jump), Hannah Barton (1st pole vault), Alexis Adams (1st javelin)

Highlights/key moments: Concord’s 4x100 relay team took first as the Tide gathered 63 points for third place behind Nashua South (86) and Alvirne (64) at the tri-meet.