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Knight stick girls falter in final two



SKwoodfieldhockey
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SENIORS (l to r), Presleigh Skelley, Gabrielle Horton, Miranda Clark, Erin Maguire and Caitlyn Brooks pose for a photo prior to their final regular season home game on Oct. 13. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 18, 2010
WOLFEBORO — Kingswood field hockey coach Kaitlin Reilly will be the first to say that the regular season is just a warm-up for the playoffs.

If that's the case, then the Kingswood girls didn't have a good final warm-up.

The Knights dropped their final two regular season games, falling to Hanover in Wolfeboro and at Portsmouth to finish the season at 9-5.

Despite the two losses in the final week of the season, the Knights still secured a home playoff berth and opened the tournament after deadline on Wednesday afternoon.

The Knights finished the season on a cold, rainy and windy Friday afternoon in Portsmouth and despite a stingy defense, couldn't get the offense in gear and dropped a 1-0 decision to the Clippers, a win that propelled the Clippers past the Knights in the Division II standings.

The Clippers scored the game's lone goal with less than two minutes remaining in the first half and they made it stand up for the final 31:15.

The Knights were strong in the offensive zone early, getting a couple of corners, but the Clippers came back strong and held control of the ball the rest of the half, eventually putting the ball in the net with 1:45 to play in the half.

Kingswood keeper Hannah Bergeron had a strong game, making seven saves in net for the Knights.

Kingswood played its final regular season home game on Wednesday, Oct. 13, on Alumni Field and dropped a 3-1 decision to visiting Hanover.

The Hanover field hockey team became the second Marauder squad in less than a week and only the second team all season to record a win on the Alumni Field turf, following in the footsteps of the Hanover football team the previous Friday night.

Hanover wasted absolutely no time in setting the tone, as they raced down the field and scored with only 1:02 gone in the first half for a quick 1-0 lead.

Kingswood battled back with some great scoring chances, including a corner that was tipped wide. Sasha McCormack, Leah Kenison and Nikki Matarozzo did their best to put something past the Hanover goalie, but the Knights were unable to break through and the Marauders turned the defensive stands into a couple of good offensive chances, with Bergeron making a couple of big saves and Erin Maguire chipping in with a solid defensive play.

Maguire, Kenison, McCormack and Caitlyn Brooks teamed up for a good scoring bid and Miranda Clark also had a nice chance turned away and the Marauders again turned the defensive stand into an offensive threat.

This time, Hanover found the back of the net, pushing through the defense and slipping one past Bergeron for a 2-0 lead with 10:57 to play in the half.

After a timeout, the Knights came back strong, with Clark, Kenison, Maguire, Gabrielle Horton, Brooks and Matarozzo all pressuring the net. The Knights had a couple of penalty corner chances but they couldn't convert.

Hanover came back with some pressure of its own, but Bergeron was solid in the net and nothing got through.

Clark, Matarozzo, Maguire and the Knights continued their relentless press up the field with a couple of great chance, but perhaps the best chance for the Knights came on a penalty stroke in the final two minutes.

Clark stepped to the line and promptly buried the ball past the Hanover keeper, but the officials ruled that play had never been started with a whistle and the score was waved off, keeping it a 2-0 lead.

Kingswood's best pressure came in the final minutes and the Knights had three corners in the final seconds, including two that they earned after the clock had run out on the half.

The Knights answered the bell to open the second half, as they ran right down the field and scored in the first 38 seconds, with Kenison pushing the ball in to cut the lead to 2-1.

The Knights kept pushing for the tying goal, with Clark, Kenison, McCormack and Maguire all in the offensive zone battling for the ball, but the Marauders held strong and didn't allow the Knights to put anything on net.

Hanover finally got the ball back up the field and they were able to get some scoring chances, including a couple of corners, one of which went wide and another of which Bergeron saved.

However, the visitors hit the jackpot on their third corner of the half and drilled the ball past the Knight keeper for a 3-1 lead with 12 minutes to play in the game.

The Knights dominated the pressure in the final 12 minutes, but despite everything that they did, the ball stayed out of the net and the Hanover defense clamped down and kept the Knights from any high-quality scoring chances, allowing them to walk away with the 3-1 win.

"They had a phenomenal defense," Reilly said of the Marauders. "I give them so much credit. They were focused and determined to stop that ball."

At the same time, the Knight coach was not disappointed in her team's effort.

"My girls never gave up," she said. "That was the first game we were really stopped time after time."

She pointed out that the loss was a good eye-opener heading to the postseason, as when the playoffs roll around, any team is capable of an upset, as the Knights proved last year.

"It took them a little off guard," Reilly said.

While the team's seniors were honored prior to the game, the Knight coach also didn't look at the game as the team's senior game, knowing they had a home playoff game in the cards.

"This isn't our senior game, our senior game is next week," she said. "I told them, you've got another home game. Take this as a learning opportunity for us to come back to practice a little harder.

"At this point, they expect better of themselves," she added.

The Knights hosted Goffstown after deadline Wednesday in the first game of the Division II playoffs. The tourney continues with the quarterfinals on Saturday, Oct. 23. Game time is tentatively set for 2 p.m. either at top-seeded Bow or at home against 16th-seeded Hollis-Brookline. The semifinals are at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 27, at Exeter High School.

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