EMILY SKELLEY charges through Oyster River's defense in action June 4. Kathy Sutherland. (click for larger version)
June 09, 2014WOLFEBORO — The Kingswood girls' lacrosse team was plenty familiar with Oyster River.
The Knights bested the Bobcats 17-7 on the Alumni Field turf in mid-April and in the final week of the regular season defeated the Bobcats 16-7 on UNH's Memorial Field.
But in the playoffs, you never know what might happen, so Ali Cushing noted her team was not going to take the Bobcats lightly.
In fact, she turned to the Al Pacino film Any Given Sunday for a little motivation prior to the game, showing a clip to her team before the Knights took the field.
"The boys losing (the day before) was a reminder that on any given Sunday, anything can happen," Cushing said. "Inch by inch, we're going to fight for every inch."
The Knights then came out and played like Pacino himself was on the sidelines screaming at them, as they broke things open early, taking an 11-2 lead in the first half and never relenting, on the way to a 20-6 win in the first round of the Division III playoffs.
"It was a comfortable position to be in on the sidelines," Cushing said of her team's early lead. "The girls were able to work on things we needed to work on for advancing."
The Knight coach did point out that the second half did feature some back and forth play, with each team answering the other squad's goals, but the lead that the Knights had built up was more than enough to withstand the pressure from the Bobcats.
Additionally, the Knights were able to work well as a team and demonstrated good draw control and passing throughout the game.
"And we worked on things we needed to work on, such as rebounds," Cushing said.
Freshman Haley Bridgeman led the attack for the Kingswood offense, as she poured in nine goals, including a number of tallies where she followed up her own poor angle shots, grabbed the rebound and put it in. Cushing noted the ability to self-correct mistakes is an impressive trait in the first-year star.
Anna Fredrickson, in her final game on the Alumni Field turf, poured in five goals, while Abby Dubel added three goals and an assist and Allie Vontz put in two goals.
Senior Rachel Lapar, also playing in her final home game, had a goal and an assist on the scoresheet, but Cushing noted her contributions went well beyond that.
"Hands down she was my key player," Cushing pointed out. "She was part of every transition."
Micaela Flagg also earned her coach's praise, picking up two assists on the afternoon.
"She had an awesome game," Cushing pointed out.
Laura Blocher also had two assists and earned Cushing's kudos for hustling after rebounds.
"And the defense did a good job with doubles and sliding," Cushing continued. "It was a full team effort."
With the win, the Knights earned a spot in the Division III quarterfinals, where they were matched up with John Stark on Saturday evening in Weare.
In what was a very physical game against the Generals, Kingswood dropped an 11-10 decision.
"It was an awesome game," Cushing said. "They were so poised, they rose way above everything."
Cushing noted that the Generals played a very physical game and received numerous yellow cards, but her girls didn't get involved, instead staying out of the fray.
Kingswood led 8-5 at the half and led late in the second half, but the hosts scored the tying goal with three minutes to go and the game winner with two minutes to play.
"I couldn't ask for more, besides a win," Cushing said. "But we can't control everything. We are only able to control what we can control."
Cushing noted it was a life lesson for her kids.
"Even when you have good sportsmanship and play your heart out, sometimes you don't come out on top," she said.
Bridgeman finished with four goals and an assist, while Lapar had two goals and two assists, Fredrickson had three goals and Emily Skelley had a goal and an assist. Cushing also praised the play of Fredrickson, Flagg and Delaney Hutchins, as the Knights played with just three subs.
"It's better to go out battling than to go out not showing up to play," Cushing said. "It's a good ending to the season and like we told them, we're proud of them."
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org