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Championship dreams fall short

Kingswood lacrosse girls beaten by Plymouth in DIII title game

THE KINGSWOOD girls’ lacrosse team poses with the Division III runner-up plaque after the championship game on June 8 in Manchester. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 13, 2011
MANCHESTER — The Kingswood girls' lacrosse team likely would've liked to have seen the lightning a little earlier.

As the Division III championship game drew to a close on June 8, lightning lit up the sky near Southern New Hampshire University. Had that lightning come a little earlier, the Knights may have been looking at a delay in action, and that very well could've been just the thing they needed.

However, there was no delay and the Kingswood girls didn't play their game, allowing Plymouth to grab the Division III championship.

The Knights struggled from the start in the Division III title tilt and were never able to get their feet under them and Plymouth ran to a 14-9 win, denying the Knights their first girls' lacrosse championship and the school's first championship of any kind since 2000's field hockey team lifted the trophy.

"We didn't play our game," coach Ali Cushing said. "We played, probably one of our worst games."

She noted that the Knights, who had taken advantage of every opportunity throughout the season, failed to do so in the season's final game, which cost them.

"We didn't take advantage of opportunities and we didn't take care of the ball," Cushing said. "We didn't do the things we set up in practice."

It seemed that the Bobcats, who beat Kingswood in the regular season finale, did what they wanted to do from the start.

Plymouth scored less than two minutes in, as they lofted a shot over Kellie Lander and into the net for a 1-0 lead.

Kingswood responded right back, however, as Erin Maguire drilled a free shot to the back of the net with 22:31 on the clock to tie the game at one.

From there, the Bobcats took control.

Plymouth took a 2-1 lead with 20:37 to play and over the next 2:36 scored another three goals to quickly up the lead to 5-1 before Kingswood even had a chance to catch its collective breath.

The Knights finally got the ball up the field, with Maguire feeding Molly Gwizdala for a good look, but Plymouth came right back down the field and netted a power play goal with 14:50 to go for a 6-1 lead.

Kingswood finally answered with 11:50 to go, as Kelsey Rodgers took the ball from midfield and ran it all the way down, depositing it in the back of the net for a goal, cutting the lead to 6-2.

Whatever momentum Kingswood had seemed to disappear with an "officials timeout," which was given to allow teams to hydrate on the very warm evening.

Plymouth came back and scored a shorthanded goal with 9:31 to go for a 7-2 lead and forced Lander to make a couple more big saves, eventually netting a tally with 6:17 to go for an 8-2 lead, chasing Lander from the net, as Sadie Meyer took over.

Rodgers hit Megan Lander with a great pass to set up Kingswood's third goal with 4:44 to go and after good pressure from Caitlyn Brooks, Megan Lander and Amy Thornton, the Knights got on the board again.

With 1:39 to go, Presleigh Skelley took a great pass from Megan Lander and fired it home to make it 8-4.

However, Plymouth scored two goals off the next two faceoffs in a span of 19 seconds, sapping the Knights' momentum and giving them a 10-4 lead. Meyer made a couple big saves before halftime and the teams hit the break with Plymouth up by the 10-4 score.

Meyer did her best to keep the Knights in it with a couple early saves in the second half and Rodgers had a scoring bid rifle off the crossbar.

However, it was Plymouth that scored first, netting two goals in 23 seconds to up the lead to 12-4.

Rodgers came back with a goal on a free shot with 15:22 to go to make it 12-5, but Plymouth scored again with 13:19 on the clock to make it 13-5.

Rodgers took the ensuing faceoff down the field and tickled the twine with a shot to make it 13-6 with 13:07 to play in the game.

Shots from Gwizdala, Brooks and Sarah Lovering didn't find their mark and Meyer made a couple more solid saves, but Plymouth scored with 8:20 to go to make it 14-6.

The two teams went back and forth over the next six minutes or so, with neither team generating solid chances.

With 2:24 on the clock, Rodgers ran all the way down the field and fired a puck home to make it 14-7.

With 57 seconds on the clock, Brooks buried a shot to cut the lead to 14-8.

Kingswood continued to fire on all cylinders in the final minutes, as Gwizdala took a faceoff down to cut the lead to 14-9 with 43 seconds left, but the Knights ran out of time and Plymouth had the win.

"Some people gave it their all, but we did not play to win," Cushing said. "There was 50 minutes of missed opportunities."

The Knight coach saw no signs that things would go awry for her team in the finals, as the girls were pumped and ready to go.

"There was no doubt that they would come out and do their thing and do what they knew how to do," she said. "But they didn't.

"We had the worst game of our season," she added.

The Knights finished at 11-3 in the regular season and beat Oyster River and Kearsarge in the playoffs to reach the finals for the first time.

AJ Coleman
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Varney Smith
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