Grizzlies Growl Loudest: Goffstown Bumps Hanover In First Round
Olivia St. Jean of Goffstown, left, covers Mason McNulty of Hanover, middle, during their field hockey playoff in Hanover Thursday, October 24, 2013. Sofia LaPorta is at right.
(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
Sumner LeBaron-Brien of Hanover, right, tries to advance down field under pressure from Anne Steckowych of Goffstown during their game in Hanover Thursday, October 24, 2013.
(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
Hanover — Aggressive and vocal, one of the major points of emphasis for the Goffstown High field hockey team heading into Thursday’s NHIAA Division II first round game at Hanover was continued communication with one another. With both their shouts and their sticks, the Grizzlies roared loudest.
Goffstown sophomore Sydney Dubois scored once in each half and Anne Steckowych had a pair of assists for No. 10 Goffstown, which talked throughout while staving off a Marauder rally and winning 3-1 win at Merriman-Branch field.
The Grizzlies and seventh-seeded Hanover both moved to 8-6-1, as Goffstown advanced to play at Lebanon in a Sunday quarterfinal. The second-ranked Raiders (11-1-2) had a first-round bye.
In a rematch of a scoreless draw in the regular-season finale in Goffstown on Oct. 17, the Grizzlies emphasized not only talking more, but also playing more vigorously around the net.
It paid off, as their game-winner 4:19 into the second half came on the third chance of a flurry, Dubois knocking in her own rebound off the pad of Hanover keeper B Sachsse after an initial bid from the top of the box by Molly Norton.
“In the first game against them, we had a lot of scoring opportunities that we didn’t finish,” said 10th-year Grizzlies coach Jess Brown, a former Goffstown defender. “It’s hard to have a finishing touch against them because they have a strong defense, so the only way to really beat them is to try to score on second and third rebounds. We were able to do that on that play.”
Down 2-1, Hanover regrouped during a timeout with 16 minutes left and picked up the intensity, challenging the Grizzlies after the visitors controlled much of the middle stages of the period.
Georgina Stern set up a shot by Hannah Seibel with 14:19 to play, and another Hanover flurry eventually resulted in a Marauder foul to bring it back the other way. It was the kind of resilient effort 11th-year Hanover coach Jean Essex said she’s seen all year.
“You can’t fault my players for anything. They played with intensity and they played a great game,” Essex said. “Goffstown took us out of our game a little bit, but they’re a good team and that’s what can happen in the playoffs.”
Play early on resembled last week’s back-and-forth draw in Goffstown before the Grizzlies struck first. Dubois scored on their second shot of the game off of a free-hit feed from Steckowych to make it 1-0 8:06 into the game.
Hanover defenders Emma Butler (back from an illness), Mason McNulty, Charly Voelkel and Sophia Whitcomb helped limit the Grizzlies to just one more shot during the remainder of the half, but the Marauders struggled to generate chances on the other end as well.
Christine Croitoru sent a shot wide of Goffstown keeper Brianna Fournier, and Stern overshot Katie Ryan-O’Flaherty on an attempted pass near the goal following a Hanover timeout with less than 10 minutes left in the half.
Hanover began the second half aggressively and scored the equalizer at the end of an offensive flurry. Seibel and Croituro both took whacks at the goal before Ryan-O’Flaherty zipped in a low-lying shot across the crease that was tipped in by senior Eleanor Patten to make it 1-1 1:24 into the second half.
Goffstown responded less than three minutes later, Dubois concentrating in traffic to beat Sachsse and make it 2-1 after a pair of saves by the keeper.
After several Hanover chances, Goffstown regained control down the stretch. Sachsse had to charge out to thwart a one-on-one breakaway bid, then made another save on a Grizzly chance following a penalty corner. Goffstown wouldn’t be denied on yet another opportunity, as Steckowych’s free hit sent the ball to the left side, and Norton plunked the ball into the net from there. It was 3-1 with 8:48 to play.
Despite the loss, Essex is proud of a team that returned 13 seniors from last year’s four-win squad that failed to make the playoffs.
“I don’t think anyone expected us to host a playoff game this year, but they did it,” the coach said.
The Marauders also dealt with a slew of injuries, including a knee ailment that kept senior Valentina Sedlacek out of the lineup for most of the season. An injury at goalie forced Emily Gougelet to play for Sachsse for four games, while starters Seibel and Grace Croitoru also missed time, the latter playing in a cast with a broken thumb Thursday. Christine Croitoru missed part of the first half with a jammed thumb Thursday and McNulty missed part of the game with a cut on her ring finger.
“They’ve overcome a lot this year,” said Essex. “I’m very proud of them.”
Free Hits: The Marauders graduate 13 seniors as well as manager Jyoti Graber, who kept Hanover’s book for four years. ... The Grizzlies held a 10-4 advantage in shots in the second half after leading just 3-2 in that category in the first. Both teams had just three penalty corners. ... Hanover was whistled for 40 foul infractions, Gofftstown for 35. ... Sunday’s quarterfinal at Lebanon will be a rematch of a 5-0 Raider win Oct. 9. Lebanon is the defending state champion.
Jared Pendak can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3306.