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Unbeaten Cougars Blank Cardinals

Stevens goalie Cassandra Cutts and teammate Jenna Deschaine (14) watch a rebound carom away during yesterday's Divison III game with visiting Derryfield. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

Stevens goalie Cassandra Cutts and teammate Jenna Deschaine (14) watch a rebound carom away during yesterday's Divison III game with visiting Derryfield. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »

Claremont — Field hockey at the Derryfield School, a parochial institution in Manchester, may be just a little different than at most other schools in New Hampshire. To say they take the sport seriously would be an understatement.

Derryfield has won the NHIAA Division III state title the last three years and four of the last six. Since 1998, the school has compiled a 187-45-10 record and is 54-2-1 since 2010. Lenny McCaigue has been coaching the team since 1997; before that he coached the 1995 Untied States national team to the bronze medal in the Pan American Games.

Derryfield came to Monadnock Park on Monday night undefeated in five game, having outscored the opposition 35-0. The Cougars left with win No. 6, a 1-0 triumph over the host Cardinals, but knew they were in a fight the whole way.

“You know we needed a game like this; we haven’t been challenged much until tonight,” said McCaigue.

The two teams have a history, including the 2011 championship game won by Derryfield in double overtime.

“There’s a nice thing going between the two schools,” said McCaigue. “Patty (Deschaine, 10th-year Stevens coach) has this program in great shape.”

The statistics show that Derryfield had the territorial edge (13-0 in shorts on goal and 9-0 on corners), but putting the ball in the net was another thing.

“Their goalkeeper (Cassandra Cutts) had many (12) great saves,” said McCaigue. “We could have left here with four of five goals.”

Stevens also got a solid game from sweeper Bella McCardle who many times found herself as the only defense between a Derryfield attacker and Cutts.

“Bella has really been playing well,” praised Deschaine.

McCaigue also showed he has been doing his scouting homework, yelling throughout the game, “Keep the ball away from Jenna,” referring to leading scorer Jenna Deschaine, the Cards’ middle link.

One of the reasons Derryfield had such a territorial edge was the ground-hugging long free hits that flew into the attacking zone and forced Stevens to play more of a defensive style of game than the Cardinals would have liked.

“You know, they didn’t have a shot or a corner,” said McCaigue. “I know we didn’t score much, but we just didn’t give them much of a chance to score. Our goalie never touched the ball. We played great defense.”

Derryfield goalie Kate Johnson was only mildly threatened as the game moved into the latter stages of the second half, when Stevens was able to keep the ball in the offensive zone for an extended period of time.

However, no serious threats resulted.

“We just couldn’t seem to connect our passes,” said Deschaine.

The game’s only goal came with 9:59 to play in the first half when Polly Carter slipped the ball under the flashing right pad of Cutts.

“This kind of proves our girls can stay with anyone,” said Deschaine, whose Cards fell to 4-1.

“I’m not disappointed. I know what we were up against. We gave 100 percent.”