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Zoned Out: Portsmouth’s Defense Shuts Down Hanover in D-II Lacrosse Final

  • Hanover players, left to right, Suriya Lacy, Sarah Gallimore, and Claudia Noonan hold back tears in an after-game huddle after their loss to Portsmouth in the New Hampshire Division II girls lacrosse championship in Manchester yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Hanover players, left to right, Suriya Lacy, Sarah Gallimore, and Claudia Noonan hold back tears in an after-game huddle after their loss to Portsmouth in the New Hampshire Division II girls lacrosse championship in Manchester yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hanover's Grace Croitoru attempts to keep the ball in Marauder posession during the Hanover vs. Portsmouth Division II girls lacrosse championship in Manchester, N.H., on June 3, 2013. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Hanover's Grace Croitoru attempts to keep the ball in Marauder posession during the Hanover vs. Portsmouth Division II girls lacrosse championship in Manchester, N.H., on June 3, 2013. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hanover players, left to right, Suriya Lacy, Sarah Gallimore, and Claudia Noonan hold back tears in an after-game huddle after their loss to Portsmouth in the New Hampshire Division II girls lacrosse championship in Manchester yesterday. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Hanover's Grace Croitoru attempts to keep the ball in Marauder posession during the Hanover vs. Portsmouth Division II girls lacrosse championship in Manchester, N.H., on June 3, 2013. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

Manchester — Thanks to Portsmouth’s blanketing zone defense, the Hanover High girls lacrosse team could never “get in the zone” collectively during yesterday’s NHIAA Division II championship game.

Stymieing a normally high-octane Marauder offense with a defensive zone pressure it employed throughout the game, the second-seeded Clippers befuddled No. 1 Hanover, 14-8, at Southern New Hampshire University’s Larkin Field.

Hanover’s only two losses of the year came against Portsmouth as the Clippers (19-2) bettered the Marauders for the second time in four weeks. Portsmouth barely avoided overtime in a 14-13 win over Hanover (17-2) on the Seacoast May 10, but they were never in doubt yesterday after jumping ahead 5-1 early and leading by at least five from the 9-minute mark of the first half.

Syracuse University-bound midfielder Devon Parker scored six goals with an assist and Emily Whitney, slated to play at Endicott College, added four goals and three assists, yet it was Clippers’ defense, led by senior Allie McDevitt and sophomore Kori Shaw, that was the game’s most imposing factor.

Hanover leading scorer, Hannah Seibel, was held to a single goal, in part because Portsmouth refused to overcompensate against her. Instead or trying to double- or triple-team the elusive Seibel, the Clippers spread their manpower around and successfully disrupted the passing lanes the Marauders have used all year to dazzle opponents.

Hanover outshot Portsmouth, 25-19, but many of the Marauders’ bids were low-velocity or forced. Clippers goalie Ashley Lilane made 11 saves while needing only a couple of brilliant stops.

“If you ask me, the teams are about even, but the coaching is where they got the best of us,” said first-year Hanover mentor Chris Seibel, Hannah’s dad. “They came in with a great game plan and they executed. The only zone we really faced all year was against each other in practice.”

Clipper fourth-year coach Mary Squire knew to respect more than Hannah Seibel, even though the junior was one of the state’s top scorers this year and notched her 100th career point early in the season.

“We knew from playing them the first time that they have a lot of talent, a lot of weapons,” she said. “We had to be aware of (Seibel), but we did a good job sticking to our schemes.”

The Clippers’ offense did its part, with four different players combining to score on Portsmouth’s first four shots. Parker’s second score, on a top-shelf zinger past Hanover goalie Emily Gougelet (two saves), gave the Clippers a 5-1 lead 11:05 into the game.

Parker added two more in the first half, the latter making it 9-2 with 8:01 left.

Hanover sophomore JJ Daniell (team-high two goals, four assists) scored twice and assisted on Rachel Boghosian’s score in the first half. Daniell’s second strike came with less than five minutes left to pull the Marauders within 9-3 at halftime.

Parker set up Whitney’s goal 1:18 into the second half to match the Clippers’ largest lead, but Hanover sophomore Christine Croitoru scored twice in a span of 1:10 — the first on a penalty shot, the second on a feed from Daniell — to pull the Marauders back within five.

Parker and Whitney both scored again to get the lead back to seven with 17:34 to play.

Hanover senior swing player Sarah Gallimore (two goals) scored from Boghosian before Parker was yellow-carded for hard contact and issued a two-minute penalty. Twenty-one seconds later, Whitney was sent off for a similar infraction, and Hanover cashed in on the two-man advantage when Seibel finally scored on a fine pass from Daniell. That pulled the Marauders back within five, 12-7, with 11:02 remaining.

“It seemed a couple times like we might be getting some momentum, and we had a chance to make it 12-8, but we turned it over,” Chris Seibel said. “It wasn’t our best shooting day.”

Linane turned away Seibel with 8:46 left and, following a Portsmouth timeout a minute later, the Clippers went into keep-away mode and effectively ran out the clock.

Hanover senior attack Claudia Noonan acknowledged that the task of coming from behind proved daunting for her team.

“It was kind of a mental things for us, once we were down by three or four goals,” Noonan said. “The most we’d had to come back from all year was one or two. That combined with the zone defense was tough, and they just played a great game. They outplayed us today.”

In a final for the first time since winning the title in 2008, the Marauders took pride in what was a dominant season against everyone but the Clippers. They beat every other opponent by an average score of 19-7, despite low numbers and attrition that began before the season even started. Combined, Hanover’s varsity and jayvee programs yielded 29 athletes.

“We had 44 girls we thought were playing, and we had a team meeting in January,” Chris Seibel recalled. “I told them what was to be expected of them in terms of physical fitness and commitment, and we lost 15 kids after that. I think it was a pretty good season for a team with 15 players (on the varsity roster) and having to swing players a lot.”

Lax Facts: The Marauders averaged 10.5 goals per game against Portsmouth, but scored at least 15 against all other foes. … The Clippers also won the D-II crown in 2011 and the D-I title in ’08, the same year of Hanover’s last D-II championship. The Marauders also won it all in D-II in 2002. … Olivia Eaton, Julie McNabb, Charley Prevost and Lizzy Rice all scored one goal for the Clippers, all but Rice also registering one assist. … Senior midfielder Evie Keating earned an assist for Hanover. … Seibel received the Marauders’ only yellow card, with 5:58 left in the first half. … The schools also squared off in the D-II boys tennis championship May 28, a 9-0 Marauder win. … Hanover loses Georgia Lubrano, Noonan, Gallimore, Annie Psomas and Suriya Lacy to graduation.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.

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