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Matarozzo's OT strike lifts Knights over Bobcats

Final game of the regular season a barn burner in Plymouth

by Joshua Spaulding
Sports Editor - Granite State News, Carroll County Independent, Meredith News, Gilford Steamer, Winnisquam Echo, Plymouth Record-Enterprise and Baysider

PLYMOUTH’S Cortney Holmes and Kingswood’s Keely Rodgers battle for the ball in action Oct. 11. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 15, 2012
PLYMOUTH — Talk about a swing in emotions.

Just minutes into the seven-on-seven overtime in the Plymouth vs. Kingswood field hockey battle on Thursday, Oct. 11, the Bobcats turned a penalty corner into what appeared to be the game winning goal.

As the Bobcats celebrated, the two officials came together and ruled that the whistle was blown before the ball was struck to the back of the cage, ending Plymouth's victory celebration.

Ten minutes later, Kingswood's Nicole Matarozzo turned the tides, giving the Knights reason to celebrate as she fired a shot past Plymouth keeper Emelia Karntakosol to give the Knights the 1-0 victory in the final game of the regular season for both teams.

For coach Kaitlin Reilly's Knights, it marked the second 1-0 overtime win of the week.

"Apparently we need to go to overtime," she said of the team's strategy heading toward the playoffs. "But it's a testament to the work and the level of fitness and dedication to making the changes and improving and keeping it fresh in our system."

"It's always got to be neck-and-neck with the," Plymouth coach Ashley Laufenburg said of her team's battle with Kingswood. "I think we played a very strong game as a whole."

From the start, the two teams were back and forth, with chances on both sides of the ball, but nothing was getting past Karntakosol and Kingswood keeper Jess Colpoys.

Plymouth's Cortney Holmes had the first chance of the day, only to be denied by Colpoys. Kingswood came back with a couple of looks, but the defense of the Bobcats stopped them short. Both of the teams showed strong defense, with Leah McAuliffe coming up with a steal for the Bobcats and Erinn Vittum stopping her in her tracks at the other end.

Plymouth had a couple good chances, including a penalty corner that saw the ball go wide, while Meghan Coursey put some nice moves on the Knight defense and got through, but couldn't get the ball past Colpoys. Kenady Kelly's shot was also deflected wide of the net.

The two teams exchanged corners, with Colpoys and Karntakosol each recording a save on their respective chances. Kelly Wood and Vittum also had stellar defensive plays for the Knights as Coursey and Angelina Stewart took their hacks for the Bobcats.

Rachel Lapar and Emma Danais shut down another Plymouth corner chances and Lapar immediately brought the ball the other way, with the shot tipped wide of the net. Anneke Huynen and Sydney Kahl turned in strong defensive plays for the Bobcats, as Matarozzo, Danais and Julia St. Germain brought the ball in close.

Matarozzo had a couple of good scoring chances late in the half, with Karntakosol coming up with a big save on one look. Plymouth had the final chance the half, as Kelly ripped off a shot, but it was deflected on net and Colpoys made the stop to send the teams to halftime scoreless.

Coursey had a great cross on a corner early in the second half for the Bobcats and Lapar, Danais and Matarozzo had chances for the Knights, but both goalies stood strong. Kingswood had a couple of corners but couldn't convert.

The two teams exchanged chances, with the Bobcats controlling the play more in their end, earning five corners in the final 15 minutes of the half, but they couldn't score, as Vittum, Lapar and the Kingswood defense stood strong.

Kingswood did have a couple of chances, but Stewart and Sierra James came up with solid defensive stops for the Bobcats and the two teams went to overtime with no score.

After the early goal that wasn't, Plymouth had a couple of chances and the Knights responded with a few chances of their own. Plymouth had a corner where they were close to putting it in the net, but Marisa Nardello came up and filled in the empty net after a Colpoys save, keeping the game scoreless before Matarozzo sent Kingswood home happy.

Reilly was impressed with the way her team stuck with it and didn't get down.

"It was an intense composure definitely," Reilly said. "They just played the calls, played the game and stayed focused."

The Knights were also on the edge of the Division II playoff race and the win gave them a little more security.

"We needed it to be safe," Reilly said. "There's a lot of people with games left."

Laufenburg noted that the Knights coming in gunning for a playoff spot didn't help her team.

"When you get teams with that extra push behind them, it doesn't matter who you are or what the results of the last game was," the Bobcat coach said. "They came in fired up."

However, she also expects that from Kingswood on a regular basis.

"I'd expect nothing less than a battle," she said.

The Bobcats will be heading to the postseason and Laufenburg said it was important to put the loss behind them.

"It's a brand new season," she said. "You learn from these games and build off it. We have to be prepared."

The Bobcats finished the regular season at 8-6 and the Knights finished at 6-6-2.

The Division II playoffs began on Wednesday, Oct. 17. The Knights are the ninth seed and opened at Kennett in the first round. The tournament continues on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m. at Lebanon and the semifinals are Wednesday, Oct. 24, at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter at 7 p.m.

Check our Facebook page (Salmon Press Sports – Wolfeboro) for updates as the playoffs begin.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at sportsgsn@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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