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Kennett 4, Hanover 0: Marauders’ reign atop D-II quashed in pivotal period

  • Hanover's Celia Groves takes a shot on goal but is denied by Kennett keeper Madison Wolcott as Hanover teammate Olivia Trummel, right, waits for a rebound during their quarterfinal playoff game in Hanover, N.H., on Oct. 26, 2020. At left is Kennett's Ava Gaudette. Kennett won, 4-0. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover's Mia Edmonds leads the team in a cheer before the start of the fourth quarter in their quarterfinal playoff game against Kennett in Hanover, N.H., on Oct. 26, 2020. Kennett won, 4-0. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover's Natalie Chapman, left, takes possession of the ball away from Kennett's Jaelin Cummings in the fourth quarter of their game in Hanover, N.H., on Oct. 26, 2020. Kennett won, 4-0. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 10/26/2020 8:53:09 PM
Modified: 10/26/2020 8:53:06 PM

HANOVER — The second half of Monday’s NHIAA Division II quarterfinal gave Hanover High field hockey coach Jean Essex hope for the future. The first half took care of the present.

A three-goal Kennett explosion over an eight-minute span of the second quarter ended the Marauders’ reign as D-II champions in a 4-0 quarterfinal loss on Monday at Merriman-Branch Field. MacKenzie Carr and Kathryn Hawkes each struck twice for the Eagles (10-0-0), who if only for bad luck in a blind draw ended up as the fifth seed in five-school Region Three.

Still, their chance of hosting a playoff game in this coronavirus-altered tournament went from zero to 50% with Tuesday’s victory. The Eagles are trying to return to the top of the D-II heap for the first time in 10 years, and they left an impression on Essex.

“If you look at the second half, it was a 0-0 game,” Essex said. “I think it took my girls a little bit of time. I have only three seniors, two seniors that have played varsity before … and I had eight or nine new starters to varsity. I think that it was just a matter of settling into the playoffs.”

Kennett coach Cassie Daley did a good job of shifting the Eagles’ attention as the game progressed. One-goal lead after one quarter? Let’s get more. In control at halftime? Let’s not blow the shutout.

Those things they could control. One they can’t: another blind draw to determine if they or Merrimack Valley will host a semifinal later this week.

“We talked about the fast-game aspect, stick-to-stick, all of that, and meaningful passes,” Daley said. “That’s what the girls did. We really, really emphasized, ‘You need to get it; we can’t wait for the ball.’ ”

After surviving a couple of early Hanover bids, Kennett did just that.

Hanover forward Kate Blaisdell nearly found wing Olivia Trummel for a tip-in at the left post three minutes into the contest. Trummel also pulled a drive wide left from a Hanover penalty corner barely a minute later.

The Eagles had the lead just past the opening quarter’s mid-point. Midfielder Madelyn Stewart drilled a penalty-corner feed from the high circle that Carr tipped home at the right post at 9:37.

Kennett came back with its three-goal burst in the second stanza. Hawkes jammed home a Tessa Capozzoli crease feed at 41 seconds, Carr rebounded a saved Stewart drive at 5:18, and Hawkes added her second goal, unassisted, at 8:52. The Eagles outshot Hanover in the pivotal period, 6-0.

“I have six or seven sophomores on the team, so they’re young and they played like they were young,” Essex noted. “If you can take a timeout and you can sort of settle them down, you can regroup. But given the circumstances, they started to fall apart and the goals went in.”

One two-minute stretch of the third stanza nearly gave Hanover life. The Marauders piled up five corners in short order, forcing four saves from freshman Kennett netminder Madison Walcott on one. The first-time goalie followed that up with a point-blank denial of Hanover’s Natalie Feyrer after tracking a deflected feed through midair.

Essex loses the Northeastern-bound Blaisdell (team-high 15 goals) along with defenders Natalie Chapman and Sophia May to graduation.

“I told them to be proud about playing field hockey and leave it all on the field, and that’s what they did,” Essex said. “You can’t ask for much more than that.”

Stick Checks: A handful of Kennett fans were on hand for their team, the first time this season that visiting supporters have been permitted at Merriman-Branch. Athletic director Megan Sobel said that Hanover joined an agreement with all NHIAA Division I schools prior to the season to home-game limit attendance to two family members per Marauder athlete. The NHIAA has since suggested the school’s relax the policy, and Sobel said about half have done so. Hanover’s girls soccer, boys soccer and golf teams play in Division I in autumn, while all others are D-II. Visiting fans, with the same limit as home fans, will be permitted at Hanover’s remaining home tournament games this postseason. … Olivia Evans and Reilly Loughman split five saves in the Marauders’ goal.

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




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