NHIAA releases field hockey playoff schedules

  • Bishop Brady’s Libbey Hicks (center) takes a shot on goal against Merrimack Valley.

  • RICH MIYARA / NH Sports PhotographyMerrimack Valley’s Brittney Thoroughgood (right) brings the ball up the field on Tuesday at Bishop Brady High School as masked fans watch from a crowded sideline. Brady, the defending Division III champs, scored three goals in a seven-minute span to beat D-II MV, 3-2.

  • Concord’s Kait McKinnon takes a shot on goal against Goffstown at Rollins Park. RICH MIYARA photographs / NH Sports Photography

Monitor staff
Published: 10/14/2020 12:19:00 PM

The NHIAA released playoff schedules for all three field hockey divisions Tuesday night, the first look at an open high school tournament with random draws and localized brackets.

Every field hockey team was invited to participate in the tournament dependent on their comfort level, and not on their record. And every team that played in the regular season opted in to the tournament – 17 in Division I, 19 in D-II and 18 in D-III.

All high school athletic teams in the state played a schedule based on proximity this fall to help reduce the potential spread, and help necessary tracking, of the coronavirus. The field hockey tournaments will follow this same formula for the first few rounds before teams start traveling greater distances for the semifinals and the finals. The boys’ and girls’ soccer playoffs will use the same format, but football will be different with fewer teams invited to the tournament.

The NHIAA decided to use a random draw to determine seeding/home field instead of records because the localized schedules were not all equal – teams played varying numbers of games against opponents from varying divisions and there were, naturally, no common opponents with teams inside the division but outside the region.

The random draw wasn’t kind to the Concord High field hockey team, which was 7-0-1 headed into it final game of the regular season on Wednesday against Bedford. The 2019 runner-up Crimson Tide wound up with the No. 3 seed in Region 2 of D-I and will travel to face No. 2 Bedford (6-2 heading into Wednesday’s game) for a first-round matchup on Oct. 21 at 3 p.m. Manchester Memorial is 0-7, but the Crusaders got the No. 1 seed in Region 2 and they will host No. 4 Manchester Central-West (4-4) in the first round.

The winners of those two first-round games will meet in the quarterfinals at the home of the higher seed on Oct. 24, and the winner of that game will face the school that makes it out of Region 3 – Winnacunnet (8-0), Timberlane, Dover, Exeter – in the semifinals on Oct. 27 with the home team determined by random draw.

John Stark (5-1 headed into Wednesday’s game against Bishop Brady), Merrimack Valley (2-3-2), Bow (0-5) and Pembroke Academy (0-6) are all in Region 2 of D-II. The two winless teams happened to draw the top two seeds, so No. 4 MV will travel to No. 1 PA for a first-round game on Oct. 22 at 3 p.m., the same time and day that No. 3 John Stark will travel to No. 2 Bow. The winners of those two games will meet at the home of the higher seed on Oct. 26 at 3 p.m. in the quarterfinals, and the winner of that contest will face whatever school makes it out of D-II’s Region 3 – Hanover (7-3), Lebanon (6-1), Plymouth, Kingswood, Kennett – in the semifinals.

Defending D-III champ Bishop Brady and Hopkinton are both in Region 3 of the D-III tournament and both should be more than ready. The Giants went 6-0-1 this year with four wins against D-II teams and a 7-2 win against Conant, which is 5-1 otherwise. Hopkinton has posted a 4-1-1 record playing against all D-II teams.

The Hawks drew the No. 4 seed and will host No. 5 Mascenic (2-3) on Monday at 3 p.m. in a preliminary game. The winner will travel to Jaffrey to face No. 1 Conant on Oct. 23 at 3 p.m. That’s the same time No. 3 Brady will be traveling to Swanzey to take on No. 2 Monadnock, a team that has played only a couple of games this year and will likely have a hard time matching up against the defending champs.

The team that advances from Region 3 will go to the Oct. 28 semifinals to face the winner from Region 2, which includes 2018 champ and 2019 runner-up Mascoma (4-2), Kearsarge, Stevens and Newport.

As far as attending the game, fans should check with their schools. The NHIAA,  “recommended that each rostered student athlete on the varsity team, both home and away, are provided two tickets per game.  Should local school rules mandate a more strict policy regarding visitors and fans to their school campus, such rules will take precedent over the NHIAA’s recommendation.”

All CDC and New Hampshire Department of Health guidelines will be enforced at the tournament games, and all the guidelines set forth in the Governor’s Safer at Home guidance for “Amateur and Youth Sports” and the NHIAA’s “Reopening Sports Guidance” will be followed.

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