Merrimack Valley, Bishop Brady advance to field hockey semifinals

  • Merrimack Valley’s Alexa Prewitt and John Stark’s Regan Fischer battle for possession during Monday’s playoff game. ALLIE ST PETER / Monitor staff

  • John Stark’s Aubrey Fischer defending against Merrimack Valley’s Reilly Swislosky ALLIE ST PETER—Monitor Staff

  • John Stark’s Kacie Weston being defended by Merrimack Valley’s Emily Thomas ALLIE ST PETER—Monitor Staff

Monitor staff
Published: 10/27/2020 3:12:42 PM

They had to overcome deficits, survive shots off iron and play through cold and wet conditions, but the field hockey teams from Merrimack Valley and Bishop Brady both found ways to win playoff games on Monday and both will be returning to a final four.

MV claimed a 2-1 win at John Stark and will now travel to Kennett for a Division II semifinal matchup on Thursday. Brady, the defending D-III champs, came from behind twice to beat Hopkinton, 3-2, and will go to Mascoma on Thursday for a semifinal that’s a rematch of last year’s final.

“I’m really happy with the energy the girls brought to today’s dreary matchup,” Merrimack Valley coach Jen Colgan said, referring to the weather and not her opponents from Stark. “I thought they played hard, and made smart decisions that put us in good situations on both sides of the ball. We’re definitely looking to carry this energy into Thursday’s semifinal.”

The Generals (6-3-0) had a goal called back in the first half, saw another shot hit the post and had to settle for a scoreless tie at halftime against visiting MV (5-3-2).

“Our girls competed hard and I felt like controlled a lot of the play. We just couldn’t find the net enough,” Stark coach Dennis Pelletier said.

The Pride found the net twice in the third quarter with both goals coming off rebounds. Amanda Parrotto scored 5:53 into the third and Alexa Prewitt doubled the lead with 3:50 left in the quarter.

Bella Pelletier, assisted by Meg Girardet, scored for Stark with 9:50 left in the game. The Generals pressured for the equalizer after that, but Emily Thomas, goalie Rosemary Ostrowski and the rest of the MV defense wasn’t having it.

“Emily Thomas made some huge defensive stops for us today,” Colgan said.

The MV coach was also pleased with the two-way efforts from Reilly Swislosky, Caitlyn Fortier and Taylor Bailey.

The Pride will now make a trip it knows all about – going to North Conway for a playoff game at Kennett (10-0-0). Last year, MV upset the Eagles on their home field in the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Hanover in the D-II semifinals.

The Generals won’t be making any more trips this season, but they hosted the first playoff game in program history and set a program record for winning percentage in a season.

“We had a great season and I’m very proud of our team,” said coach Pelletier, who was particularly pleased with the play from Gracie Bolduc, Jackie O’Donnell and Sydnee Pelletier (10 saves) on Monday.

Right around the same time the Pride scored the winning goal in Weare, Brady (10-0-1) was doing the same thing in Concord. Libbey Hicks converted a penalty stroke with 18 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Giants a 3-2 lead they would see to the end of the contest.

Hopkinton (8-2-1) held first-half leads of 1-0 and 2-1 thanks to goals from Charlotte Presti and Natalie Allen (goal, assist), but the Giants tied things up before halftime and played solid defense from there with Michaella Savary and goalie Julie Blais (six saves) leading that effort.

“We played hard tonight and I thought both teams showed great competitiveness,” Hopkinton coach Kate Hohenberger said. “It’s hard to say our season is over, but I am beyond proud of the way my girls played this season.”

Hopkinton’s Presti, assisted by Julia Baer, opened the scoring with 2:20 left in the first quarter, but the Giants answered just 20 seconds later on a nice tip goal from Rebecca Murphy. Allen put the Hawks back on top early in the second after she got behind the Brady back line, but again the Giants responded, this time with a nice pass from Ashlyn Toupin leading to a reverse hit goal from Halle Laramie with 6:30 left in the first half.

Brady controlled the second half and had a massive edge on penalty corners (9-0 after halftime, 11-2 for the game) to prove it.

“I’m very proud of the girls as they continued to work together on both ends of the field,” Brady coach Kelly Owen said. “Team connections on offense and defense are so important to maintain and we did that.”

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