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Cougars Take Rematch

Kearsarge Edges Lebanon for Second Time in Seven Days

  • Lebanon High’s Emily Perryman (4) drives to the net against a pair of Kearsarge defenders yesterday. The host Raiders suffered their second narrow loss of the season to the Cougars, falling 7-6 in an NHIAA Division III game. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

    Lebanon High’s Emily Perryman (4) drives to the net against a pair of Kearsarge defenders yesterday. The host Raiders suffered their second narrow loss of the season to the Cougars, falling 7-6 in an NHIAA Division III game. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lebanon High lacrosse player Brenna Peterson and her teammates wore purple shirts yesterday to raise awareness of domestic violence victims. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

    Lebanon High lacrosse player Brenna Peterson and her teammates wore purple shirts yesterday to raise awareness of domestic violence victims. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kearsarge High's Anna Stowell, right, leans to avoid Lebanon defender Lindsey Merrill during the teams' NHIAA Division III game yesterday. The visiting Cougars triumphed 7-6 to improve to 11-0 this season. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

    Kearsarge High's Anna Stowell, right, leans to avoid Lebanon defender Lindsey Merrill during the teams' NHIAA Division III game yesterday. The visiting Cougars triumphed 7-6 to improve to 11-0 this season. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lebanon High’s Emily Perryman (4) drives to the net against a pair of Kearsarge defenders yesterday. The host Raiders suffered their second narrow loss of the season to the Cougars, falling 7-6 in an NHIAA Division III game. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)
  • Lebanon High lacrosse player Brenna Peterson and her teammates wore purple shirts yesterday to raise awareness of domestic violence victims. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)
  • Kearsarge High's Anna Stowell, right, leans to avoid Lebanon defender Lindsey Merrill during the teams' NHIAA Division III game yesterday. The visiting Cougars triumphed 7-6 to improve to 11-0 this season. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

Lebanon — The burgeoning rivalry between the Lebanon High and Kearsarge girls lacrosse teams picked up additional steam yesterday when the visiting Cougars escaped with a 7-6 victory to maintain their undefeated record. Kearsarge also won the schools’ first meeting of the season, a 12-10 result last Friday.

As in the initial clash, Kearsarge made an early move to run away with the contest before the Raiders clawed their way back into contention. And once again, there was a sense that had the game lasted a few more minutes, its outcome might have changed.

Adding to the drama this time around was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed on a Cougars assistant coach with two minutes to play. That left the visitors down a player for the remainder of the action and Lebanon got the chance it was looking for 20 seconds later when an unguarded Erika Moffitt received a pass in front of the Kearsarge goal. Moffitt’s shot went wide, however, and the visitors improved to 11-0.

“I feel like if we’d had another 30 seconds, it would have been a different game,” said Raiders attacker Mo Moran, who missed a prime shooting chance of her own with 6:30 remaining before scoring the game’s last goal with 4:35 on the clock. “It (stinks) to lose to them twice, but we put everything we had into this game, so we walked off the field feeling OK.

“I wouldn’t mind playing them again to finish off my senior year, though. I can be patient until the playoffs.”

Lebanon (8-4) is hoping to earn home field advantage for the first round against a lower-seeded team before hitting the road for quarterfinal action. The Raiders had previously petitioned up to play in Division II but dropped to their correct, enrollment-based level this season because of declining participation.

Those who are playing, however, are steadily improving. Kearsarge got attacker Haley Brook back from a family trip for yesterday’s game and played better defense than in the teams’ first meeting, but Lebanon refused to wilt.

“Their defense challenged us and flustered us a bit. It was tough for us to get in there,” said Raiders coach Sara Ecker. “We didn’t take really good care of the ball today and had some turnovers that cost us. Our stickwork wasn’t as strong as it can be.”

Moran, who scored five times against the Cougars last week, was held to a single goal yesterday, as was explosive teammate Emily Perryman. Slogic said his team wasn’t going to let either standout do significant damage.

“Lebanon’s got some weapons but we ganged up on them when they went through in front of the net,” the coach said. “They were going to get double-teamed and were going to have a body on them. I’d rather take a chance on a (free position) shot against Morgan Galluzzo than I would a 4-foot shot during play.”

Kearsarge’s Geneva Heffernan opened the scoring in the second minute before Lebanon’s Moffitt answered 27 seconds later. The Cougars took a 4-1 lead in the ninth minute after goals by Brook, Gemma Bready and Jonalyn Burt during a 90-second span. Two of those tallies came on simple crease rolls, where the attacker started behind the net and curled in front of it before shooting.

Ecker called timeout, and although the Raiders’ Amelia Gage scored two minutes later, her team later surrendered a tally to Anna Stowell and trailed 5-2 at intermission.

“We tried to get each other pumped up during halftime,” Moran said. “We didn’t want to beat ourselves up over the first half and we had to realize that the second half was a new game. We came out with more energy in the second half and were ready for their (offensive) tricks.”

Lebanon pulled within 5-3 when defender Kyra Taylor converted a pass in front of the net three minutes after the break. Kearsarge responded with goals by Bready and Heffernan to lead 7-3 with 16 minutes remaining, but the hosts made it tight down the stretch. Taylor Friedman pulled her squad within 7-4 with 11 minutes to go and Perryman struck three minutes later before Moran closed the scoring.

After Moffitt couldn’t convert her point-blank chance, the Raiders unraveled a bit. Despite being up a player because of the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Lebanon didn’t fully heed Ecker’s shouted pleas to double-team the ball and create a turnover. Led by Bready, Kearsarge maintained possession until time expired.

“The kids are hanging their heads a little bit because it’s tough to lose to (Kearsarge) in such close games, but I’m not disappointed with the way we played,” Ecker said. “We’ve picked up our game during the last half of the season, and that’s what you need going into the playoffs. There’s a good chance we could see them again.”

Said Slogic: “Lebanon’s tough and it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season. It would certainly be a good game.”

Notes: The sale of baked goods and purple shirts and bracelets at yesterday’s game raised money for the home team’s Not in Our House fund. Administered by WISE, a local crisis agency for domestic and sexual abuse victims, it allows affected children to enjoy activities they might not otherwise experience. The fund was started by Ecker and her players after last spring’s murder of Lebanon High teacher Natalie Perriello, allegedly by her husband in their Grantham home. “There was so much crying at practice that day,” Perryman said. “It’s nice to experience something positive together now and to raise awareness in Mrs. Perriello’s memory.”… Among the sartorial notes struck at the game were a woman in bright purple pants and Moran’s purple cleats. … Slogic, the Director of Respiratory Care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, treated a pair of nasty blisters on the feet of Haley Brook after the game. “I’d pop this one right now, but I don’t have a sterile needle,” Slogic mused, while Brook recoiled in mock horror.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.