Aldridge nets game-winner for Unified Bears

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Winnisquam's Jonathan Allard dribbles past a Gilford defender during the Bears' 3-2 season-opening win on Sept. 22. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 29, 2014
GILFORD Not much separated the Gilford High School and Winnisquam Regional High School unified soccer teams in the season opener last week.

After a defensive battle played out for three quarters with the visiting Bears clinging to a 1-0 lead, the teams combined for four tallies in the final frame with wild play going up and down the field. In the end, Winnisquam was able to hold on, as a goal from DJ Aldridge proved to be the game-winner in a 3-2 victory in Division I action on Sept. 22.

After a scoreless first quarter (12 minute periods), Aldridge nearly put the Bears on top early in the second, as his rocket of a shot clanked off the post. Moments later, Gilford had a good early chance when a Sisi Remick breakaway was saved at the last moment by Winnisquam goalkeeper Amanda Blier.

But the Bears would get on the board with the only tally before halftime, as Richard Estes finally broke through with 5:40 left in the second quarter to put the visitors on top 1-0.

Gilford battled in the third, using the play of Danielle Cote to move down the field and put some shots on net. Cote was her usual active self on the field, creating havoc for the Bears on multiple occasions.

The Eagles would eventually tie the game with 11:28 left in the fourth quarter, as Max Sawyer tucked in the first goal of the season for Gilford to tie the game at 1-1.

The goal was just the beginning of an active final quarter however, as Estes would pot his second of the afternoon less than three minutes later to reestablish the Winnisquam lead at 2-1.

But Sawyer wouldn't let his team falter, and he buried his second tally of the day with 6:53 left in regulation to draw the Eagles even once again at 2-2.

That set the stage for Aldridge, whose initial shot was saved before his second effort netted the game-winner with 5:12 remaining. Despite a late Gilford flurry from several players up front, Winnisquam was able to hold on for dear life and grab the road victory, 3-2.

The game was the first on the schedule for both teams, and each will play a five-game docket this fall leading up to the Division I playoffs. Both schools have had success with the unified programs, as Gilford won the soccer state championship in 2012 while Winnisquam was the state champion in volleyball this past spring. The teams will meet again in the regular season finale on Oct. 20 in Tilton.

Winnisquam 3, Gilford 2

WINNI 0 1 0 2 — 3

GILFORD 0 0 0 2 — 2

Goals: (W) Estes 2, Aldridge. (G) Sawyer 2.

Assists: (W) Allard. (G) Cote.

Shots: Winnisquam 11. Gilford 8.

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