Seniors (l to r), Lexy Tomassetti, Kaitlyn Welch, Courtney Douville and Tori Markiewicz pose for a photo prior to their final home game Oct. 12. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 15, 2012BRISTOL — On a blustery afternoon in Bristol, the Newfound field hockey team sent a message to the rest of Division III: The Bears are back.
Newfound scored two goals in the final 7:15 of regulation and then added one less than three minutes into overtime to knock off top-seeded Berlin by a 3-2 score in the final game of the regular season.
After what has been an up and down season, the Bears chose a fine way to end things and head into the playoffs with momentum on their side.
Ironically enough, the Bears had spent very little practice time this season working on the seven-vs.-seven overtime format.
"This year, we had so many things to worry about that we never really practiced it," coach Karri Peterson said.
However, her team showed plenty of confidence in the overtime system.
"The girls said, that if all the games were played seven-vs.-seven, they didn't think we'd lose a game," Peterson added.
Berlin came out with plenty of early chances, but the Bears didn't back down, with Tori Markiewicz getting in on net a couple of times. Amber Plummer and Brittany McArthur turned in solid defensive plays at the other end, while Plummer, Markiewicz and Lexy Tomassetti had offensive bids. Plummer had a shot go wide on a corner. Berlin had a corner chance as well, but Kayla Messersmith's defense held tight, which led to good offensive bids from Allie Symonds and Markiewicz. Karissa Bony also had a couple of good chances close in but couldn't convert.
The Newfound defense was also solid in front of keeper Kaitlyn Welch, who made a number of solid saves to keep her team in the game.
However, with less than 10 minutes to go in the half, the Mountaineers got on the board on a rebound to take the 1-0 lead.
Newfound fought back hard, with two late corner chances, with Plummer, Markiewicz and Symonds getting in close. However, they couldn't convert and Welch made a couple saves down the stretch to send the game to halftime with Berlin up 1-0.
Berlin controlled the play a bit more in the second half, getting six early corners to Newfound's one, but Welch was strong and the defense held tight.
The Bears finally got on the board again with just more than 20 minutes gone in the half, as they scored on a corner for a 2-0 lead.
Peterson called timeout and focused her troops and the message seemed to work.
Just more than two minutes later, Markiewicz struck for the Bears' first goal of the game and just more than two minutes after that, Bony scored on a corner to tie the game at two with 5:03 to go.
Neither team could break the stalemate in the final five minutes, so to overtime it went, where Newfound had a couple of good chances before Markiewicz buried the ball in the cage for the game winner less than three minutes in.
Peterson expected her team to get the win on the penalty corner just before the winning goal, but wasn't complaining when the ball went in a bit later.
"I thought for sure in overtime, when we got the corner, that would be it," she said, touting her team's strong corner work late in the season.
The second half was another story, however, as the Bears struggled a bit.
"We've got to give someone the opportunity to score, but we were losing the ball outside the circle," Peterson said. "But in the first half, we had some great opportunities to score."
However, it was the Mountaineers who took advantage, not the Bears.
"The difference in the first half was they capitalized on one of their chances and we didn't," Peterson said.
Newfound opened the week with a 2-1 win over White Mountains Regional on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
Welch had a great first half in net, stopping five saves to keep the game scoreless heading to the break. She continued her strong play in the second half, including an amazing save to keep the game scoreless. However, with 7:30 gone in the half, a two-on-one from Bony and Symonds resulted in Symonds putting the ball home for a 1-0 lead.
Markiewicz finished off a Bony feed five minutes later for a 2-0 lead and though Newfound dominated play in the second half, the Spartans managed a penalty corner with 1:40 to go and capitalized, cutting the lead to 2-1. The Bears then clamped down and didn't allow the ball out of the offensive zone the rest of the way to hold on for the 2-1 win.
The Bears finished the season at 8-6 and started the Division III tournament after deadline Tuesday. For bracket updates, see our Facebook page (Salmon Press Sports – Wolfeboro).
The tournament continues with games on Friday, Oct. 19, at 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 5 and 7 p.m. at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at email@example.com or 569-3126