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Golden Eagles knock T-Wolves from tourney

NICK BACHELDER bleeds from a cut above his eye as he waits for the trainer to close it up during action Nov. 3. It was the senior’s second blood-drawing injury of the game. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
November 08, 2010
PENACOOK — It seemed a pretty good bet to everyone in Division III that the road to the boys' soccer title was going to go through Gilford.

The Golden Eagles allowed only three goals all season and marched to an undefeated record.

So, Prospect Mountain coach Bubba Noyes and his squad knew they were in for a tough matchup when they drew the Golden Eagles in the semifinal round Wednesday night at Merrimack Valley High School.

And though the Timber Wolves put up a tough battle, the Gilford boys came out on top with a 2-0 win on their way to an eventual state championship over Bow three days later.

"I couldn't ask for much more than that," Noyes said. "They played their hearts outs, they challenged every ball and they left it on the field today."

Heading into the game, the Timber Wolves knew they would be without Zack Drouin, one of the team's biggest offensive threats. Drouin broke his foot in the team's quarterfinal game against Kearsarge and was on the sideline in a cast as his teammates took on Gilford.

The Golden Eagles wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, as the ball was pushed in toward Prospect keeper Spencer Goossens less than two minutes into the game. The Timber Wolf goalie came out to challenge the ball and Michael Workman poked the ball around him and into the net for a 1-0 lead with 1:48 gone in the contest.

"That tough first goal obviously put us behind a little, but the more they realized we could play with them, the more we pressured," Noyes said.

After the goal, the Timber Wolves stepped up in their offensive end, with Anthony Frangione sending a shot wide of the net and Jake Rochette sending a nice ball in to Frangione, only to meet up with the Gilford defense. Nick Bachelder also sent a great ball in just ahead of the Timber Wolf attackers. Jake Biscoe just missed a nice connecting pass and Jesse Brown sent a shot wide of the net.

Gilford had their chances as well, with a couple of direct kicks sailing high and Goossens making a couple of saves, including one diving save on Gilford star Stefan Defregger that brought a huge cheer from the chilly crowd.

Gilford had a couple of corner kick chances but the Prospect defense stepped up and kept the ball from the net. Jason Houghton and Rochette played solid defense to keep the Eagles off the board. Houghton also had a scoring bid soar wide of the net. Ben Couch had a direct kick sail wide and high as well as the Timber Wolves struggled to put the ball on the net and test Gilford keeper Connor Hillsgrove.

Gilford had one shot sail high and then had a direct kick blocked as they looked to expand the 1-0 lead. Goossens also made a nice save on another Gilford bid.

Couch launched a beautiful shot that sailed just high of the net and then sent another shot on net that was deflected over the crossbar. Frangione had a shot deflected wide as well and Brown sent one wide on a corner kick as the first half ticked down.

Prospect came out with some solid offensive chances in the second half. Scott Kanash just missed connections with Biscoe and Brown had his shot denied by Hillsgrove. Couch sent one ball in just ahead of Houghton as well.

The Golden Eagles forced Goossens to make a couple of solid saves and the defense, led by Greg Tinkham and Rochette, shut down the Gilford attack before other balls could get through to the net.

Gilford continued to pressure, forcing the Timber Wolf defense to step it up, with Andrew Hederman recording a nice block and Kanash making a good clear on a scoring bid.

However, the Gilford boys broke through with another tally with 17:10 to play, sending the ball to the low corner for a 2-0 lead.

Prospect didn't back down, with Houghton immediately bringing the ball back down the field for a scoring chance, only to have Hillsgrove deny him at the net. Biscoe and Brown also had bids that went high.

Gilford continued to pressure as well, looking for a little more insurance, but Goossens and the defense tightened up and kept the Golden Eagles off the board.

Kanash and Jake Troy connected for a scoring bid in the final few minutes, but the ball sailed wide and the Timber Wolves saw their season come to a close with a hard-fought 2-0 loss.

"If one of those could've gone in, it would've been different," Noyes said of his team's scoring chances.

The veteran coach noted his squad basically kept Defregger in check, something the Timber Wolves were unable to do in the regular season matchup between the two teams, in which the Gilford ace struck for four goals.

"As a team, you've got to keep an eye on him, you've got to challenge him all the time," Noyes said. "The first time we played we didn't."

With Drouin on the sidelines, Noyes praised the rest of his lineup for stepping up and helping to fill the void in the front. He also praised Rochette for his inspired play the entire night.

"You've got to be all over the field," Noyes said. "And he was."

Goossens, who came up with 12 saves on the night, also earned his coach's praise for a job well done.

"He came up big a few times for us tonight," the veteran Timber Wolf coach said.

The Prospect boys finished the regular season at 13-2 and beat Belmont and Kearsarge in the first two rounds of the Division III tournament.

Martin Lord Osman
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