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Eagles win final two to net second seed

SENIORS (back row, l to r) Meghan Feddern, Kelsea Allen, Katie Bishop, Abbey Gutowski, Sam Meader, Michelle Coleman and Karli Olson and (front row, l to r), Emily Leich, Jordan Lemerise, Vicky Weigold, Emily Johnson and Amber McPherson pose for a group photo prior to their final regular season home game Oct. 14. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 18, 2010
NORTH CONWAY — The planned starting time for the Kennett-Laconia field hockey tilt on Thursday, Oct. 14, was 3:45 p.m. That came and went with still no sign of the Sachems, who called ahead noting that their bus had broken down and they would be late.

The Eagles calmly took their time warming up and went through their senior ceremony before the game finally got under way 45 minutes late, with looming clouds and the available daylight shrinking quickly.

Laconia came out strong as the Eagles were unable to move the ball up the field in the first few minutes. Despite good defense from Sam Meader and her teammates, the Sachems got on the board first, netting a goal just 3:14 into the game for a 1-0 lead.

Kennett fought back strong, with Abbey Gutowski and Charlotte Walker making their presence known in front of the Laconia net. The Sachems, however, didn't back down and came right back down the field, forcing Eagle keeper Faye Roberts to make a save to keep it a 1-0 game.

Vicky Weigold tried to get Kennett on the board, but she was met with defensive pressure from the Sachems, who turned the defensive stop into an offensive bid, with Kelsea Allen turning in a solid defensive play for the Eagles and Roberts turning away another Laconia shot.

Weigold, Gutowski and Katie Bishop all tried to get the Eagles on the board, but all three were denied by the Laconia defense.

The Sachems had a great breakaway bid that Roberts turned aside. The Eagle keeper then turned away a second chance and the Eagles tried to capitalize, but were turned away by the Laconia defense.

Laconia came right back with more scoring chances, forcing Roberts to make another save and the defense to pitch in as well.

Kennett finally broke through with 5:32 to play in the first half, as Walker put the ball in the net off a corner and the Eagles had tied the game at one.

Both teams had chances in the final five minutes of the half, with Weigold, Bishop, Walker and Gutowski all making bids in the offensive zone while Laconia's best chances soared wide of the net and the half ended in a 1-1 tie.

After Roberts made an early save in the second half, the Eagles got a couple of quality chances on corners, with Meader and Gutowski getting scoring bids. However, the ball didn't bounce through and the game remained tied.

Laconia took the lead for the second time with 14:24 to play in the game and moments later, Gutowski took a hard shot off the leg, knocking her out of the game, forcing the Eagles to play on without their number one scorer.

The Eagles rallied for their senior leader and with just under 10 minutes to play in the game, Weigold finished off solid Kennett pressure with the Eagles' second goal of the game and a 2-2 tie.

The two teams traded chances down the stretch, with the Eagles getting great bids from Meader, Steph Loynd and Weigold, while the Sachems made numerous bids through the crease that the Eagle defense quickly swiped away and regulation ended with the two teams tied at two.

The Eagles immediately broke in as the seven-on-seven overtime period began and needed just 1:22 to find the net, as Meader rifled a shot home off a corner for the 3-2 win.

"They were excited about today with the senior game and rescheduled Homecoming," coach CJ Lang said. "The extended warm-up wasn't ideal for that."

However, the first-year head coach noted that each game the team has a challenge in front of them and that was the challenge that day.

"We had moments when we were playing our game, but not enough of them," she said.

The Eagles picked up a 2-1 win against Merrimack Valley on Tuesday, Oct. 12.

The Pride scored just before halftime to take a 1-0 lead, marking one of the few times this season that the Eagles had trailed at halftime.

"That doesn't happen a lot," Lang said. "That was the challenge for that day."

Kennett answered the bell, with Gutowski taking a feed from Bishop to tie the game at one 17 minutes into the second half.

With five to go, Gutowski returned the favor, setting up Bishop for the game-winning goal.

"We played really well," Lang said. "The game was excellent. We were pretty evenly matched."

The Eagles finished the regular season at 13-1 and earned the second seed in the Division II playoffs. Kennett was hosting Con-Val after deadline on Wednesday, Oct. 20. If the Eagles won in the first round, they host either Portsmouth (seventh seed) or St. Thomas (10th seed) on Saturday, with a tentative game time set for 2 p.m. The Division II semifinals are set for Exeter High School at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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