Kicked Out: Marauders Fall to Sabers on PKs
Hanover's Sophia Lubrano tries to box out a Souhegan player during their state playoff match at Exeter High School in Exeter, N.H. on November 6, 2013. Souhegan won the game 3-2 on penalty kicks. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover head coach Doug Kennedy, center, watches with his team as a player kicks a penalty kick on the Souhegan goalie following two overtimes in their state playoff match at Exeter High School in Exeter, N.H. on November 6, 2013. Souhegan won the game 3-2 on penalty kicks. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover's Eliza Laycock, center, tries to outmaneuver a group of Souhegan players during their state playoff match at Exeter High School in Exeter, N.H. on November 6, 2013. Souhegan won the game 3-2 on penalty kicks. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Exeter, n.h. — The Hanover High girls soccer team had endured nine overtime games heading into Wednesday’s NHIAA Division II semifinal against Souhegan. The Marauders had to rally this time to force overtime yet again, but it wasn’t quite enough against the Sabers.
After 100 minutes of play and five rounds of penalty kicks couldn’t decide a winner at Exeter High School’s Bill Ball Stadium, Souhegan’s Rachael Facey beat Marauder keeper Ashley Levesque in the sudden-death sixth round of PKs to break a 2-2 tie and send the third-ranked Sabers to Saturday’s championship game at Southern New Hampshire University. The Sabers won the PK shootout 3-2.
Senior midfielder Peyton Kent scored a pair of goals on unassisted corner kicks for Souhegan (15-3-1), which will play No. 9 Pembroke — a 1-0 winner over fifth-ranked Coe-Brown in Wednesday’s late semi — in its third consecutive final appearance. Souhegan beat Hanover in the 2011 championship game before losing to Milford last year.
It was the second game decided by penalty kicks this postseason for the No. 7 Marauders (10-4-5), who beat Con-Val on PKs after two overtimes in the first round before upsetting second-ranked Windham, 2-1, on the road in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Levesque made a diving save against fellow goalie Mikaela Sullivan to force a sixth round, but Sullivan responded by leaping to rob a mid-range bid by Hanover’s Rachel Boghosian.
Facey then barely snuck in the winner, sticking it on the ground just inside the left post past a sprawling Levesque.
“Penalty kicks are never a pleasurable way to end it,” said Hanover coach Doug Kennedy, whose team narrowly missed a third trip to the final in his six seasons with the Marauders. “Especially when it gets to be sudden death, where an entire game is decided on one (round of kicks). It just seems unfair.”
Hanover started off strong, with Kelly Brigham heading one over the crossbar and Brigham and Julia Krass challenging Sullivan with shots in the first 10 minutes.
Souhegan eventually matched the Marauders’ tempo and scored on its first corner kick of the game on a bending, middle-of-the-cage offering from Kent in the 17th minute.
The Sabers kept up the pressure, forcing five saves from Levesque by the 22:30 mark. “Once they got that goal, they really fed off it,” Kennedy said. “A goal like (Kent’s corner kick) can do a lot to get a team going.”
Hanover applied some pressure near the end of the first half, with Emma Riccardi and Sophie Lubrano both getting shots off in the final six minutes.
The Marauders’ inspired play continued after halftime, but the Sabers got another corner-kick score from Kent 6:44 into the second to go ahead 2-0. This one was more of a dart, curving in about three-fourths of the way across the goalmouth.
“She’s been doing that for us for years,” Souhegan coach Dwayne Andreason said of Kent’s killer services. “The idea is to get it in close so someone can get a head on it, but the way she kicks it, we don’t even need that sometimes.”
Hanover scored on its own corner kick less than six minutes later, junior defender Abby Smith serving it in and Sarah Wagner digging it out of traffic on one hop to plunk past Sullivan and make it 2-1.
Hanover kept momentum in its favor, keeping play largely in Souhegan’s end and occasionally getting a shot off throughout the middle stages of the second half. With 14:45 left in regulation, Kennedy implored, “Come on girls, we can do this!” from the sideline, and his team soon delivered. With 12:19 remaining, Riccardi threaded a through pass on the run to Susanna Penfield, who skidded it past Sullivan for her second goal in two playoff games to tie the score.
In familiar territory in overtime — it was the fifth time in seven games Hanover played in OT — the Marauders kept their energy high. Perhaps the best scoring chance for either team in the first 10-minute extra session never fully got the chance to develop. On a through pass from Penfield, Riccardi stayed onside and appeared on her way to a breakaway, but she was whistled for a foul while splitting a pair of Souhegan defenders.
“I’m not complaining about the officials, but I’d like to have that one back,” Kennedy said.
The Marauders kicked first in the best-of-five penalty kick format, with Sullivan diving to the left post to stop Evie Keating to start out. Alana Barretto beat Levesque to the right to give Souhegan the advantage, but Brigham scored to the left and Levesque dove to stop Shannon Disco to keep it deadlocked through two rounds.
The Sabers went up 2-1 on a strike from Kent in Round 3 before both teams misfired in the fourth. Emily Acker lifted one to the right side for a score in Round 5 before Sullivan and Levesque traded places for a keeper-on-keeper square-off. Levesque dove to her right for the save, prompting a congratulatory hand slap from Sullivan as she got back in the box to face Boghosian. Sullivan timed out the lifted shot perfectly, sending the ball high into the night to set up Facey’s clincher.
Corner Kicks: Hanover finished 3-2-5 in games that went to overtime, including three scoreless ties. ... The Marauders originally had a lower seed but moved to No. 7 after Hollis-Brookline was forced to forfeit its season for fielding an ineligible player. Hanover was also awarded a 1-0 win over the Cavaliers for an Oct. 14 home game against H-B that had been a loss. ... Hanover loses Grave Tecca, Keating, Camille Hankel, Boghosian and Acker to graduation.
Jared Pendak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3306.