No Coach, No Problem: Raiders Cruise Past Bow
Bow High goaltender Lyndsey Wheeler makes one of her 21 saves against Lebanon on Tuesday as Raiders Jennifer Laramie, left, and Kendra MacDonald look on. Host Lebanon won a rematch of the teams' 2012 NHIAA Division II title game by a 3-0 score. Valley News - Tris Wykes
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Lebanon High's Brooke Whitaker (4) works to corral an airborne ball while surrounded by Bow defenders Tuesday. The senior gave her team a 2-0 lead en route to a 3-0 victory that improved the host Raiders to 3-0 this season. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »
Lebanon — The Lebanon High field hockey team walloped visiting Bow, 3-0, in a Tuesday tilt where the score wasn’t indicative of the victors’ domination. The hosts forced Falcons’ freshman goaltender Lyndsey Wheeler to make an astounding 21 saves, 15 of them in the first half, when they took eight penalty corners while allowing none.
Despite Wheeler’s performance and a triumph that pushed the Raiders’ record to 3-0, the game’s primary news was the absence of Lebanon coach Deb Beach, who missed one of her team’s contests for the first time in 37 years.
“It was very weird,” forward Brooke Whitaker said of playing without Beach, a Keene, N.H., resident who’s also a Lebanon High physical education teacher. “I didn’t know about it until the last period (of school). We were concerned, but we just tried to think positive and we wanted to show her we could play well on our own.”
Beach was sidelined by an undisclosed medical condition and jayvee coach Shay Brine took her spot on Tuesday. Beach coached the Raiders’ lower-level squad for three seasons before ascending to the varsity post in 1979. Brine, whose daughter, Elle, is a sophomore on this year’s team, played at the University of Michigan from 1990-93 and is a personal fitness trainer.
“The program is set up in a way that’s very structured,” Brine said. “The girls are so focused and a great group to work with. They made it really easy for me today.”
So did getting to play Bow (0-2). The Falcons pushed Lebanon to overtime before falling in last season’s NHIAA Division II title game, but then lost their coach and graduated 15 seniors, nine of them starters. Four of those players are now competing in college. Lebanon goaltender Emily Foster had to make only one save Tuesday, and the vast majority of the contest was played on the visitors’ side of the field.
“There’s a lot of talent in Lebanon and a lot of it is in our younger players,” Brine said. “We have a lot of girls with heart and who are really committed, but today I think we may have made (Wheeler) look better than she is because we kept shooting into her pads.”
Leading the charge was junior midfielder Emily Perryman, who appears likely to become an NCAA Division I recruit in both field hockey and lacrosse. Despite being the focus of Bow’s defense all afternoon, she finished with six shots and inadvertently knocked a Falcon out of the game when one of her blasts caught the unfortunate player near the knee.
“We tried to shut her down, but she has great determination,” Bow coach Lauren DiRenzo said of Perryman.
Exhibiting a nose for the net was Whitaker, a first-year starter who also had six shots. The senior is a varsity alpine skier and at times Tuesday left defenders looking like stationary gates on a snow-covered mountainside. Her first goal, on an airborne shots, came two minutes before halftime. Her second, two minutes after intermission, was created with a violent, full windup and a low shot that never gave Wheeler a chance.
Whitaker said she thinks Lebanon’s unusual formation of three forwards, two midfielders, three halfbacks and two sweepers in front of Foster causes opponents problems. The Raiders rode such a deployment to a championship last year, but Whitaker thinks the similarities end there.
“We lost some really good players (to graduation) but it doesn’t mean we’re any less of a team,” she said. “There’s a lot of pressure, because people expect the same thing as last year, but we’re a new team and we don’t like being compared to last year’s group.”
Lebanon, which received its third goal from Kara Hemenway off an Elle Brine assist with three minutes remaining, visits Plymouth on Friday. Shay Brine said Beach “has every intention” of returning for that contest.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.