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Gilford caps off perfect season with a title



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Gilford players and coaches pose for a photo with the fruits of their labor, the Division III championship trophy. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
November 10, 2010
The ending may not have been as perfect as the season, but when all was said and done, the Gilford boys' soccer team closed out its perfect season with a 1-0 double overtime win over Bow in the Division III finals on Saturday at Southern New Hampshire University.

Junior Nick Riendeau tapped home the game's only goal with 7:55 left in the second 20-minute overtime, finishing off a shot from teammate Stefan Defregger that had been punched off the crossbar by the Bow keeper. As the ball bounced into the net, the Eagles leaped into a pile to celebrate their championship, the first for a group of seniors that coach Dave Pinkham said had worked harder than just about anybody to reach the pinnacle on Saturday.

"I have a group of seniors who have worked so hard for it," Pinkham said. "This group is so special."

The first half of Saturday's title tilt didn't quite go the way the Eagles would've wanted, as Bow put lots of pressure on the Gilford defense and made a bid for an early upset.

"We were making too many mistakes in the first half," Pinkham noted. "We couldn't make two passes, they were really nervous."

The veteran coach told his boys at halftime that they would have to start playing if they wanted the chance to lift the championship trophy.

"I told them, now you're going to star playing the game," he said. "And I thought in the second half and the overtime we really picked it up."

Gilford had a couple of early chances, with Vinnie Sisti, Defregger and Michael Workman making solid bids in the offensive end, but the Bow defense didn't bend and turned them away.

Bow turned things right back at the Golden Eagles with numerous chances on net. The Gilford defense also held tight and Bow's shots sailed wide of the net and keeper Connor Hillsgrove.

Tyler Grant had a shot deflected wide of the net and Bow used the miss to generate offense going the other way, but the Gilford defense, led by Connor Sanborn, stepped up and turned the bids away. Hillsgrove also made a good save on another chance as Bow continued to pressure.

The Falcons had a corner kick but couldn't generate a shot, as the Gilford defense stood its ground.

Garrett Workman, Michael Workman and Chris Dormody kept the offensive chances going for Gilford, but they were unable to penetrate the Bow defense and the balls stayed away from the net.

Bow forced Hillsgrove to make a save on one shot and moments later sent a ball through the crease that nobody was able to get a foot on.

Defregger headed a shot in on net that was saved as Gilford turned the ball the other way and the senior then fed Dormody with a nice pass, only to have the Bow defense step up and clear it out. Michael Workman also sent in a good pass to Henry Allen that was cleared out by the defense.

The two teams battled to the final whistle, but went to halftime tied at zero.

Gilford turned on the pressure early in the second half, as Defregger, Sisti and Guy Rice turned in solid offensive moves, but the Golden Eagles couldn't turn those moves into goals. Andrew Kwist stepped up on defense and Hillsgrove also made a couple of saves as Bow tried to turn the ball back up the field.

Defregger and Sisti teamed up on a good bid for the first goal, but again, the Bow defense didn't bend. Michael Workman's shot also sailed wide of the net, keeping things scoreless. Garrett Workman and Kwist turned in strong defensive moves as the Falcons moved the ball back. Kwist saved the day on a shot that scooted by Hillsgrove as he came out for the save. The senior defender swept in and booted the ball away from the open goal mouth.

The two teams exchanged chances down the stretch, with Defregger just missing connections with Allen, Bryce Quigley and Michael Workman getting stuffed by the defense and Benton Mitchell sending a shot wide for Gilford. Sanborn, Mitchell and the defense also held tough, with Hillsgrove making a couple of saves as the half came to a close.

Gilford got an early corner kick chance in overtime, but Michael Workman's shot sailed wide. Another corner yielded another chance for Michael Workman, but that ball was headed wide. Grant also had a chance stopped by the Bow keeper. Defregger had a shot go wide and sent another one high on a nice feed from Riendeau.

Bow closed out the overtime with a good scoring bid, but Kwist and Sanborn cleared the ball out and a second overtime was on the way.

Hillsgrove made an early save in the second overtime and Bow kept the ball in the zone, but the Gilford defense eventually cleared the ball out and had a couple of great bids at the other end. Quigley put a nice cross in front of the net but nobody was able to put it home. Sisti headed in a ball on another nice cross and the ball was headed out of harm's way by the Bow defense. Defregger and Mitchell had chances to win it, but the ball stayed out.

That is, until Defregger's shot was punched up off the crossbar by the Bow keeper and Riendeau found the rebound, setting off the celebration.

"Not even once in overtime did I think the game was going to penalty kicks," Pinkham said.

Had the second overtime been completed without a goal, penalty kicks would've decided the championship.

"We weren't worried about our offense; we felt the opportunities would present themselves."

Pinkham also noted that the Eagles' conditioning work throughout the season paid off in the extra frames, particularly the uphill runs.

The veteran Gilford coach also had nothing but praise for the Bow squad, which was coached by his brother, George.

"Bow was outstanding," he said. "The game really could've gone either way. We just got the bounces."

Gilford finished the regular season without a loss and beat Raymond, Berlin and Prospect Mountain to make it to the finals.

PeterCavanagh
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