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Wildcats win "Battle of the Mountains"

Defending champs oust Timber Wolves in Class M semifinals

ERICA CLEMONS, Danielle Tidd and Kim Sykes listen to the officials prior to the start of the Timber Wolves’ semifinal game with Fall Mountain on Nov. 3. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
November 09, 2009
PENACOOK — An interested bystander who happened to be standing on the sidelines at halftime of the Class M girls' semifinal game between Fall Mountain and Prospect Mountain at Merrimack Valley High School on Nov. 3 may not have believed the scoreboard to be correct.

The defending champion Wildcats had a 1-0 lead over the Timber Wolves, but coach Bruce Ferland was obviously upset with their play.

On the other bench, Prospect Mountain coach Matt Locke was relatively calm, praising his girls' play and offering a few suggestions to help get them on the scoreboard. The Timber Wolves, indeed, unlike in their quarterfinal game with Raymond, had played a solid first half, but just had nothing to show for it.

While the Timber Wolves would eventually tie the game and push closer to a Class M finals berth, the experienced Wildcats found a way to win, picking up the 2-1 victory on their way to another championship.

In the early part of the first half, the Timber Wolves found themselves on the defensive a lot, as the Wildcats attacked the net as if they were on a mission to sew up the game early. Prospect defenders Sahara Brown, Kelsey Meyerhoff and Amanda Macaione all did a great job of sealing off the attack in the early going and the Timber Wolf defense also cleared out a Fall Mountain corner kick and the Prospect girls were able to move the ball down the field, with Josie Couch sending a nice crossing pass in front, where it missed connections. Couch also sent a direct kick high over the net for the Timber Wolves.

After solid defensive plays from Meyerhoff, Erica Clemons and Sarah Carpenter on the next drive up the field by Fall Mountain, Kelly Jones moved the ball up the sideline, but had her long shot hauled in by the Wildcat keeper. Meyerhoff also sent a nice ball into the zone, but nobody was able to pick it up. Couch made a great cross in to Clemons and Kirby Beranger, but the Fall Mountain defense turned the shots away. Clemons returned the favor with a great cross to Couch, but her shot was stopped by the Fall Mountain goalie.

Fall Mountain came back up the field and put the pressure on the Prospect end, getting a corner kick that Timber Wolf goalie Danielle Tidd hauled in.

However, the Prospect defense turned the ball over just moments later and the ball was drilled past Tidd for a 1-0 Fall Mountain lead with 17:38 to play in the first half.

Prospect went back on the attack, determined to tie the game, with Carpenter sending a shot in on net that was stopped. Jones had the ball in the zone in a crowd of players, but couldn't get a shot off. However, the Timber Wolves continued to control the ball in the zone. That led to a Couch direct kick from near the sideline that the Wildcat goalie pulled in for another save.

The Timber Wolves controlled the final few minutes of the first half, but they were unable to score a goal and the game went to halftime with the Wildcats holding a 1-0 lead.

Much like they had to open the game, the Wildcats came out with some good pressure to open the second half, as Sarah Clifford and company helped to keep the ball from getting too deep in the zone and that eventually led to some good scoring chances for the Timber Wolves.

Sykes had a shot cleared by the defense, Jones had a shot sail high and Clifford's crossing pass found nobody home. Couch made a great steal in the midfield area, but the defense kept her from making a good shot and Sykes sent in a great ball that was just ahead of Beranger.

However, all the pressure finally paid off with 27:23 to play in the second half. Sykes drilled the ball on net from about 35 yards out and seemingly caught the Wildcat goalie by surprise. She leaped to pull it in, but it clanged off her fingers and bounced into the net, tying the game at one.

Prospect continued pressuring, as Sykes, Couch, Carpenter, Beranger and Jones all tried to get the go-ahead goal. A great give-and-go by Jones and Beranger set up a great shot by Jones that the goalie managed to tip wide of the net with just more than 15 minutes to play.

Jones and Clifford had other scoring chances as well, but the Timber Wolves couldn't capitalize.

With just more than 16 minutes remaining in the game, Wildcat senior Jordan Ferland gave her team the lead, as she challenged an onrushing Tidd, pushed the ball by the Timber Wolf keeper and tapped it into the net for a 2-1 lead.

Tidd came charging up the field just moments later, taking matters into her own hands and catching the Wildcats a bit off guard as she moved the ball to midfield with precision. On the backside, Beranger made a nice play to clear away a ball as Tidd hurried back to the net.

The Timber Wolves did what they could to net the tying goal, but they couldn't come up with what they needed and the 2-1 decision went to the Wildcats, who would go on to beat Campbell for the Class M title three days later in Manchester.

"It comes down to little mistakes here and there," Locke said. "But I thought we played well."

Locke admitted that Sykes' goal had him psyched and possibly looking ahead a bit.

"When we got that goal, I thought we were going to Manchester (for the finals)," he said. "But they're quick, they're rugged and they've been here before. Their experience gave them an edge.

"We've got a lot of youth and that bodes well for the future," he continued. "We're going to be a team to deal with next year."

The second-year Timber Wolf coach noted that he liked the way his team passed the ball and left every thing out on the field when the game was over.

"They played out of their heads and you can't ask for more than that," he said.

"It was nice to be able to come here and compete," said assistant coach Jake Locke.

The Timber Wolves finished the regular season with a 12-3-1 record and bested Raymond in the quarterfinals by a 4-1 score.

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