A few minutes takes Mascoma field hockey from semifinal lead to championship loss

  • Mascoma's Brianna Withington reacts after Bishop Brady scores with no time left on the clock to tie the game 1-1 on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020 in West Cannan, N.H. At the end of regulation, it was announced the winner of the semifinal game would be declared state champions because Berlin forfeited after their semifinal win. Bishop Brady won in overtime, 2-1. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Jennifer Hauck

  • Mascoma teammates Chloe Crate, left, and Carmen Zani console one another after their 2-1 overtime loss to Bishop Brady in West Canaan, N.H., on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. At the end of regulation, it was announced the winner of the semifinal game would be declared state champions because Berlin forfeited after their semifinal win. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Mascoma's Sophia Guziewicz chases down the ball along with Bishop Brady's Laura Yap and Halle Laramie in West Canaan, N.H., on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. At the end of regulation, it was announced the winner of the semifinal game would be declared state champions because Berlin forfeited after their semifinal win. Bishop Brady won in overtime, 2-1. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Mascoma's Paige Jette,left, Lillian Bennett and Morgan Towne (not seen) hug after their 2-1 overtime loss to Bishop Brady on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020 in West Canaan, N.H. At the end of regulation, it was announced the winner of the semifinal game would be declared state champions because Berlin forfeited after their semifinal win. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photos — Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 10/29/2020 10:23:58 PM
Modified: 10/29/2020 10:23:51 PM

WEST CANAAN — The Mascoma High field hockey team’s season turned on two hard thwacks of a ball sandwiched around the sound of a man’s voice on a rainy Thursday afternoon.

Down to its last chance to survive its NHIAA Division III semifinal, Bishop Brady forced overtime on the final touch of regulation play. Then, following a plot twist that only COVID-19 could deliver, the Green Giants used Halle Laramie’s extra-time goal for a 2-1 win over the Royals for their second straight D-III championship.

Confused? Sometime during fourth quarter, while Brady (11-0-1) was desperately trying to erase a 1-0 deficit, Mascoma athletic director Rodney Brown received word from the NHIAA that Berlin High, the school Thursday’s winner was to play in Sunday’s title tilt, would be forfeiting the final because of a COVID-19 outbreak. Brown used the five-minute pause between regulation and the 10-minute seven-on-seven period to announce the upping of the stakes to the two combatants and a rain-soaked crowd.

Brady responded. And the Royals’ joy turned suddenly to sodden disappointment.

“You almost don’t have time to process it,” Mascoma coach Jenn Hammond said. “It’s like, wow, we go from playing in the semifinals to being told that whoever wins is the state champion. Oh my god, that completely changes it. ...

“We were thankful that we got a season in. We told the girls to play every game like it’s your last, because we just don’t what’s going to happen with the season.”

Brady has done this comeback thing before, and the experience showed.

Last year’s run to the program’s first D-III state crown came with a come-from-behind semifinal boost when a rally from a two-goal second-half deficit against Newfound won on a Laramie overtime strike. The senior forward had seen this movie before, and she penned the ending the second time around, too.

“I’m very happy they told us it came down to that, because I don’t think we would have played with that much heart,” Laramie said. “This team never gives up. That’s something about us that I’ve loved from the first second I was a freshman.”

Mascoma (6-4-1), playing in its fourth straight D-III championship contest, drew first blood in the game’s 10th minute. On the Royals’ first penalty corner of the afternoon, Lillian Bennett inserted to Natalie Poitras at the top of the scoring circle, and Morgan Towne redirected Poitras’ drive past Brady goaltender Julie Blais (four saves).

The Mascoma defense stood out on a dismal day. Junior goaltender Emilie Conrad made four of her eight saves on a concerted second-period Brady push, getting additional help when senior defender Paige Jette denied a Giants bid with a goal-line block.

The visitors racked up 18 corners on the afternoon but never converted, their plans often diverted by the charge of Mascoma freshman flyer Zoe Barrett. Conrad confidently kicked clear the Bishop Brady shots that dared test her.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a strength of ours,” Green Giants coach Kelly Owen said of her team’s penalty corner difficulties. “We have had, and I told them yesterday at practice, 54 corners in our last three games, and we’re struggling a little bit to capitalize. We’re better in the open aspect of the game.”

With the middle of the field slick — Laramie nearly pulled off a full split on one slip — and the goal areas muddy, the contest occasionally turned into an end-to-end romp. That favored the visitors, with Laramie, senior Ashlyn Toupin and junior Libbey Hicks all finding ways through Mascoma defenders only to meet frustration.

The payoff finally came on an untimed corner with the scoreboard clock reading zeroes. Riley Marsh located Toupin high, and the forward lined a 15-yard drive through traffic into the low right corner of the goal to beckon overtime.

Seven-on-seven play favors a team that can dribble, even in mud, and Brady made it count. Laramie notched the championship-winner at 5:56 into OT, firing a 10-yard laser from the right wing that Conrad had little chance of stopping.

“It’s not the usual celebration,” Laramie said, “but hasn’t been a lot of normal things this year. Make the best of it.”

Not unaccustomed. Certainly unexpected.

“Now we’ve been here four times,” Hammond said. “We were hoping everything was going to fall our way but, unfortunately, it didn’t.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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