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Lebanon Pulls Together For Its 2nd State Crown

  • Lebanon seniors Shauna Rankin-Byrne (3), Megan Willeman (9), Taylor Friedman (10) and Amelia Gage (18) celebrate after defeating Windham 3-1 to take the New Hampshire Division II field hockey state championship in Bedford, N.H. in October. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

    Lebanon seniors Shauna Rankin-Byrne (3), Megan Willeman (9), Taylor Friedman (10) and Amelia Gage (18) celebrate after defeating Windham 3-1 to take the New Hampshire Division II field hockey state championship in Bedford, N.H. in October. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lebanon players rush the field as the game clock winds down in their championship win.<br/><br/>(Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

    Lebanon players rush the field as the game clock winds down in their championship win.

    (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Shauna Rankin-Byrne crosses sticks with Windham's Taylor Powell.<br/><br/>(Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

    Shauna Rankin-Byrne crosses sticks with Windham's Taylor Powell.

    (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jennifer Laramie celebrates with her team after defeating Windham, Lebanon's first title since 2006.<br/><br/>(Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

    Jennifer Laramie celebrates with her team after defeating Windham, Lebanon's first title since 2006.

    (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lebanon seniors Shauna Rankin-Byrne (3), Megan Willeman (9), Taylor Friedman (10) and Amelia Gage (18) celebrate after defeating Windham 3-1 to take the New Hampshire Division II field hockey state championship in Bedford, N.H. in October. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)
  • Lebanon players rush the field as the game clock winds down in their championship win.<br/><br/>(Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)
  • Shauna Rankin-Byrne crosses sticks with Windham's Taylor Powell.<br/><br/>(Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)
  • Jennifer Laramie celebrates with her team after defeating Windham, Lebanon's first title since 2006.<br/><br/>(Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

After 30 years on the sidelines, Deb Beach knew what a championship team looked like. She had one in 2006. Heading into this season, she thought she just might have another.

“I have a very dedicated group of players who are not afraid of hard work,” said Beach prior to the season. “They will do everything possible to contend for the title this season.” How right she was. Opening the season by going unbeaten for 12 straight games before suffering their only defeat, the Raiders dominated Division II. They outscored teams by a 63-17 margin, marching to the school’s second state title.

And they did it as a team. Just like the last time.

“Of all the years I’ve been coaching, those were the two best in terms of playing as a team, in every sense of the word,” Beach said. “It’s no coincidence that those are also the two teams that won state championships. That’s how you win.” Lebanon announced its intentions from the very first game, steamrolling past Hanover in the opener, 7-1. With seniors Shauna Rankin-Byrne, Megan Willeman, Taylor Friedman and Amelia Gage, along with sophomore Emily Perryman, torching the opposing nets, the Raiders raced to an 8-0 start.

Rankin-Byrne had the big individual numbers, tallying 17 points in Lebanon’s first five games, en route to leading the Upper Valley in scoring with 20 goals and 17 assists.

Meanwhile, the defense, anchored by sophomore goalie Emily Foster, was keeping the goalmouth clear and the scoreboard empty. In all, Foster and the defense of Gergana Alteva and Erin McClory recorded seven shutouts to take control of that side of the field.

A 2-2 tie at Goffstown broke the winning streak, but the Raiders went 11-0-1 before suffering their lone defeat, snapping a 31-game regular-season unbeaten streak with a 2-1 loss to Bow.

But instead of letting that defeat knock them off the track, the Raiders used that setback to refocus on their title run.

That started with a 4-2 win over Kennett in the quarterfinals with Rankin-Byrne scoring twice and Friedman and Perryman adding the other scores.

That set up a rematch with Bow in the state semifinals. Not only was the game close, but it turned into a classic. Twice the Raiders had to rally from behind — first erasing a 2-0 deficit, and then scoring late to force a 3-3 tie and send the game into overtime.

“That’s the type of group this is,” said Beach. “When they get down, they get going.

“They believe in themselves, no matter what.” With eight minutes left and trailing, 3-2, Beach took a timeout to settle her team. Moments later, Friedman emerged out of a scramble in front of the net to zip the tying goal into the net.

“For us, if the other team scores, it just give us momentum, not them” Friedman said. “Instead of getting down on ourselves, it puts us in motion.” With just over three minutes gone in the overtime, Perryman picked up a loose ball from her midfield position and planted the game-winner into the net.

It was now down to a one-game season. Only No. 3 Windham stood in their way. But on this day, nothing was going to stop the Raiders.

Windham goalie Kelsey Federico was an immovable force early in the first half before the Raiders were finally able to break through.

Grabbing a 2-0 lead in the first half, Lebanon shrugged off a mild Windham rally to take the title game, 3-1.

Perryman scored off a Gage assist to get Lebanon on top. Then, just 90 seconds, later Rankin-Byrne made it 2-0.

Windham sliced the advantage in half off a penalty corner with 7:13 left in the half, closing to 2-1 heading into the second stanza. But Lebanon quickly responded.

“We got away from our game for a little bit, started playing as individuals a little bit instead of playing together,” said Beach. “But we found our game again.” With 22:32 remaining, Rankin-Byrne closed the scoring. From that point, the Raiders took complete control, as they finished the game with a 24-3 advantage in shots and a 17-7 edge in corners.

The Raiders finished the year at 15-1-1 and will graduate nine seniors from a group that will forever be remembered as a team.

“From day one, these girls never operated as individuals,” praised Beach. “They always had team in mind, and that’s what carried us.”