CHAMPIONS: Surreal and sudden repeat for Bishop Brady field hockey

  • Mascoma's Sophia Guziewicz chases down the ball along with Bishop Brady's Laura Yap and Halle Laramie in West Canaan, N.H., on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. At the end of regulation, it was announced the winner of the semifinal game would be declared state champions because Berlin forfeited after their semifinal win. Bishop Brady won in overtime, 2-1. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Mascoma's Brianna Withington reacts after Bishop Brady scores with no time left on the clock to tie the game 1-1 on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020 in West Cannan, N.H. At the end of regulation, it was announced the winner of the semifinal game would be declared state champions because Berlin forfeited after their semifinal win. Bishop Brady won in overtime, 2-1. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Monitor staff
Published: 10/30/2020 10:56:16 AM

Ashlyn Toupin didn’t understand what she was hearing at first, and it’s hard to blame her.

“It was crazy. My coach called me over with like five minutes left in the fourth quarter and she’s like, ‘This is the championship game,’” Toupin said. “I thought she was just trying to tell me to play like it was the championship game, but she was being dead serious.”

Toupin didn’t know why, but before she ran away from the sidelines and back into the muddy game, she understood what Bishop Brady coach Kelly Owen was telling her – Thursday’s Division III field hockey semifinal in Enfield against Mascoma had somehow become, in the middle of the fourth quarter, the final.

Without worrying about the sudden change of circumstances or her team’s one-goal deficit, Toupin scored the equalizer off a penalty corner with no time left on the clock. Halle Laramie then completed the incredible comeback halfway through the 10-minute overtime with a 10-yard blast that gave Brady a 2-1 win and a second straight D-III title, and put a strange end on a strange season.

“It’s not the usual celebration,” Laramie said, “but hasn’t been a lot of normal things this year. Make the best of it.”

The abnormal year took its latest strange turn after Berlin won Thursday’s other D-III field hockey semifinal, 1-0 at home against Gilford. Immediately after that game, Berlin forfeited the final scheduled for Sunday due to a COVID outbreak in its district. The NHIAA quickly sent word to Enfield to let Brady (11-0-1) and Mascoma (6-4-1) know they were playing for the title, just like they did last year in the actual championship game, a 1-0 win for the Giants. Brady athletic director Tony Johnson then told Owen, who then relayed the message to Toupin, but it wasn’t until the break between regulation and overtime that all of the players knew what was at stake.

“I’m very happy they told us it came down to that, because I don’t think we would have played with that much heart,” Laramie said. “This team never gives up. That’s something about us that I’ve loved from the first second I was a freshman.”

It’s a team that also loves the 7-v-7 overtime format.

“Since my sophomore year when I started at Brady we’ve always said that we have the best 7-v-7 team in the state, so we were fully confident going into overtime,” said Toupin, who transferred to Brady after going to Winnisquam as a freshman. “We knew that we had it at that point.”

Libbey Hicks, who scored the only goal in the 2019 final, started the game-winning play when she blocked a free hit from Mascoma. She then sent a pass to Laramie, who got behind the defense, maintained her dribble on the muddy field and beat Mascoma goalie Emilie Conrad (eight saves) with a shot from the right wing.

“It was like, here comes Halle, and I thought, is this the Newfound overtime game all over again?” Owen said, referring to last year’s semifinal game against Newfound where Laramie scored the game-winner in overtime. “And sure enough it was. She put it in and just like that it was over. I just stopped where I was because it was all so sudden. It’s just done.”

The coach didn’t wait too long before she started moving again. She needed to get herself and her players out of the cold, wet and mud that covered the afternoon.

“It was horrible, it was like playing in a mud pile,” Toupin said. “But the whole time when were talking about the cold and rain and the field isn’t good, we were just thinking that the other team is playing in the same exact thing, so we’re going to push through this and we’re going to win.”

The field was especially bad in front of both cages, so no players had it worse than the goalies – Mascoma’s Conrad and Brady’s Julie Blais (four saves).

“It was bad. We were just warming up and Julie was literally skating across the mud,” Owen said. “The game hadn’t even started yet and she was completely covered in mud. Totally brown.”

The Royals beat Blais in the 10th minute off a penalty corner when Morgan Towne tipped a shot from Natalie Poitras to give Mascoma a 1-0 lead. Even though they trailed, the Giants still controlled the majority of the first half and the game and they had the advantage in penalty corners, 18-8, to prove it.

“We had ample, I mean ample, opportunities,” Owen said.

Last year’s title was the first one for the Brady field hockey program, and while the Giants expected to contend for another championship this year, they never expected it to be like this. They played seven of their 12 games against local D-II teams, had to travel for all three playoff games despite being undefeated and then somehow defended their crown in the semifinals.

“This one feels totally different. I mean, to find out like we did, this was surreal,” Owen said. “But every day this season we gave thanks for the opportunity to play, so we’re just grateful we got to finish the season like we did.”




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