Hanover Shuts Down Undefeated Kennett in D-II Semis

  • Hanover's Ella Edmonds.

Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, October 25, 2018

Exeter, n.h. — Hanover High’s field hockey team officially has its defensive swagger back.

The Marauders, on their heels for much of Wednesday’s game against undefeated and top-seeded Kennett in the NHIAA Division II semifinals, played like the defensive powerhouse they showed they could be early on this fall, topping the Eagles, 1-0, at Exeter High’s Bill Ball Stadium.

“They really pushed us in the first half,” said Lois Schwarz, who plays in the defensive midfield in front of Hanover’s back line. “The ball was in our 50 (-yard line) for the majority of the first half. I think that really got the defense focused.”

Schwarz, a senior, scored the game’s only goal with 17 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the second half, a long-range shot off a penalty corner that wove its way through legs and sticks and hit the back right corner of Kennett’s net. It was only her fifth goal of the season.

“That was fun,” Schwarz said with a smile. “I don’t really score that much, and that was nice. It was a beautiful pass from Macy (Curtis) — that was one our plays, she makes a decision at the top of the circle. ... We’ve been practicing our corners and trying to execute them.”

The victory lifts Hanover (13-2-1) to its second consecutive D-II final, scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday at Bedford High. The Marauders have not won a state title since 2009.

No. 2 Derryfield (14-1-1) defeated No. 6 Pelham, 3-0, in the early semifinal in Exeter to advance to its second state final in three seasons. Derryfield fell to Windham, 1-0, in double overtime in the 2016 title game.

In terms of heartbreak, the Cougars and Hanover share something in common. The Marauders lost in heartbreaking fashion to top-ranked Windham, 1-0, in last year’s championship match.

On Sunday, both teams will be playing for redemption.

“We’re playing a team that we played before, so that’s different from last year,” Schwarz said. “Derryfield — they’re really tough, we tied them in the regular season so it’s going to be a really good game.”

Hanover started the season riding high, stringing together eight consecutive shutouts for a 7-0-1 start. The last game of the streak was a scoreless tie with Derryfield on Sept. 21.

But Hanover’s defensive game broke down the stretch, culminating in back-to-back losses to Plymouth (3-2 on Oct. 5) and Souhegan (3-2 on Oct. 13). The Marauders have outscored opponents, 52-9, in 16 games this season; six of those goals came in the final two games.

“I was happy to have the losses,” Hanover head coach Jean Essex said. “It was a long last two games of the season, it was a game a week so it was kind of touch-and-go for a while. We regrouped and rallied.

“We have a good, strong, solid team,” she added. “We hit a rough patch and we rallied around it, we came back. I can’t say enough about this team. They’ve come back from everything.”

Hanover found its structure in the semifinal against Kennett. Goaltender Ella Edmonds made seven saves for her 11th shutout of the year, while Hanover’s defense turned back the Eagles on every push. Kennett finished the game with a 9-2 advantage in shots and tied, 4-4, on corner opportunities.

The Eagles simply had no answers.

“Unfortunately, it had come during the final four,” Kennett head coach Cassandra Daley said. “I wish we had gotten that (kind of performance) out of the way during the regular season.”

It was the kind of defensive performance, mixed with a little bit of bad luck, that Daley hadn’t seen this season. The Eagles entered the game having allowed only four goals while scoring more than one goal in all 16 of their contests.

Wednesday’s semifinal marked their first meeting with the Marauders.

“They took away our right side — our right side is our strong side,” Daley said. “We feed better on our right ... they stacked up on that side, so we were forced to use our left a little bit more and not get that cross ball, which is where we feed and get those tip balls a lot.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, especially if you’re an undefeated team — you have a target on your back,” she added. “I said at halftime, It’s going to take one shot, one random — in field hockey, it could take one dip of the ball. That’s exactly what happened.”

Derryfield enters Sunday’s championship on a seven-game win streak that include six shutouts. It lost, 2-0, to Kennett on Sept. 18 and tied Hanover, 0-0, three days later — a game in which Edmonds made 10 saves to preserve the tie. The Cougars haven’t lost since.

But Hanover likes its chances.

“The girls said it all: they’re rewriting history,” Essex said. “That’s the goal this year. It started last year at the finals, we’re back to where we were last year.

“Here we go.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.