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Lakers Head to Championship Game

Laconia, n.h. — One year after losing a penalty-kick tiebreaker to see their season end in the NHIAA Division IV semifinals, the Sunapee Lakers used a similar scenario to reach Saturday’s championship game.

Abby Armstrong, Sydney Clark, Taylor Usko and Rose Webb all struck PKs as the third-seeded Lakers booted No. 2 Derryfield, 2-1, in Wednesday night’s early semifinal at Laconia High School. After a 1-1 draw through 100 minutes of play, Sunapee (16-2-1) won the tiebreaker 4-1 to advance to Saturday’s final with No. 1 Woodsville at Southern New Hampshire University.

“Every single day, all year, in this season we ended practice with penalty kicks,” said Sunapee coach Myles Cooney, whose Lakers were ousted by Newmarket on penalties in last year’s D-IV semifinals. “It’s like free-throw shooting; it’s just execute, pick your sport and execute. A lot of kids try to make it bigger than it really is. You push it to a corner; if the goalie makes a great save, more power to them.”

Armstrong gave the Lakers a 1-0 lead with a long-distance strike in the first half, and it appeared it would be enough to send Sunapee through, thanks to goalkeeper Erica Waterman’s superb second-half work. Waterman stopped four shots in the first 23 minutes after the interval, but a left-side drive from freshman midfielder Gabrielle Brummett at 65:20 finally equalized the match.

The contest went to penalties after 20 minutes of scoreless overtime. Waterman wasn’t required to make a stop in the tiebreaker, with Brummett bid hitting the twine and two other attempts from Derryfield (17-2-0) missing the mark.

The finals visit will be the Lakers’ third in four years. Sunapee lost to Derryfield in the 2010 title game, then beat Littleton 2-1 for the 2011 Division IV championship, the only girls soccer crown in school history.

— Greg Fennell