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Plymouth lacrosse girls grab Division III title

The Plymouth Regional High School girls’ lacrosse team celebrated its first state title last week, defeating Kingswood 14-9 in the championship game Wednesday at Southern New Hampshire University. Matt Perloff. (click for larger version)
June 13, 2011
MANCHESTER — It was 2008 when the Plymouth Regional High School girls' lacrosse team played its first game as a varsity team, setting out to turn what had been a club sport the year before into a contender among the schools in Division III. After just four seasons, the Bobcats have taken that challenge all the way.

Plymouth's short history reached a major milestone last week, defeating Kingswood 14-9 to win the Division III State Championship, held Wednesday evening at Southern New Hampshire University.

The top-seeded Bobcats struck early and often against the third-ranked Knights in the first half of Wednesday's title game, leaving little doubt as the final minutes ticked away that the four-year-old program would come away with the championship plaque.

Not even two minutes had passed before Plymouth got on the board, as Nika Mosenthal made a leaping shot in front of the net to make it a 1-0 game. Kingswood tied it 40 seconds later, but Ani Swanson scored two minutes afterwards to put Plymouth back in the lead, while Rachel Schwaner picked up the ball off the following face-off and charged straight for the goal, firing it past the Knights goaltender to make it 3-1.

The Bobcats kept up the rally as Ann Furbush scored off a pass from Ani Swanson to make it 4-1, while Schwarner battled through traffic up the middle to add another goal, making it 5-1 just seven minutes into the game. Schwaner scored again three minutes later, giving Plymouth a commanding 6-1 lead through the first quarter of action.

Kingswood finally scored to end a 12-minute scoring drought, but was denied back-to-back goals as Hannah Otto got the ball away during the Knights' next attack. The Bobcats' offense had its own retort two minutes later as Kenady Kelly scored to make it a five-goal game again, then Mosenthal scored three minutes later as she scored from the side of the net, beating several defenders and the goalie to make it 8-2.

Plymouth's offense slowed down heading into halftime, going five minutes without a goal while Kingswood scored twice to make it 8-4. The Bobcats would get them both back before the break though, first as Mosenthal charged all the way from the face-off circle to put one away, then Furbush rebounded her own shot, rounded the net and fired from the side for another goal, giving Plymouth a 10-4 lead at halftime.

Scoring slowed early in the second half, with neither team finding the back of the net in the first nine minutes. Plymouth finally ended the drought as Mosenthal covered more than half the field uncontested to score, but it would take just 23 seconds for the Bobcats to add another as Hannah Kuehl scored to make it a 12-4 game.

Kingswood bounced back with a goal soon after, but Plymouth would get it back as Kelly bounced a shot off the turf in front of the net, putting it past the goalie to make it 13-5. The Knights scored again seconds later, but the Bobcat defense stepped it up down the stretch to keep Kingswood from working their way back into the game. Plymouth added one more goal with just over eight minutes to play, with McAuliffe lobbing a shot into the goal off a pass from Kelly to make it 14-6.

Plymouth's offense maintained possession of the ball over the next several minutes, only conceding control in the final two minutes of play. Kingswood made a valiant effort to battle back with four straight goals, but it was too late to turn thing around, and keeper Elizabeth Gailey stopped the Knights' final shot to give the Bobcats possession as the last seconds ticked away to their victory.

Mosenthal finished with four goals to lead the Plymouth offense, while Schwaner added three goals and Swanson and Kelly netted two. McAuliffe, Furbush and Kuehl each scored one goal, while Brittany Silva provided solid support on the front line as well. Kingswood's offense was kept at bay by Otto, Kuehl and Kayla Sullivan, alongside midfielders Schwaner, Mosenthal and Lucy Tomkiewicz, while Gailey turned away six shots on goal.

Head coach Maureen Wentzell and assistants Tom Cowie and William Wentzell guided their seasoned squad to a 15-2 record in 2011, finishing as the top-ranked team in a very strong Division III field. The Bobcats outscored opponents by 111 goals, while only a single goal made the difference in their two losses, one of which they'd avenge as they defeated Hopkinton in the semifinal.

That experience will be vital to the Bobcats in the coming season, with seven seniors graduating from this year's team. The graduating class includes tri-captains Swanson, Schwaner and Mosenthal, as well as defensive leader Otto, goaltender Gailey, midfielder Tomkiewicz and Amber Nault.

Though that leaves some big shoes to fill, the Bobcats already have a solid core of young starters to lead the way, including attackers McAuliffe, Furbush and Silva, midfielders Kelly and Sullivan and defender Kuehl, along with Christin Badylak-Reals and Cortney Holmes on defense and Angelina Stewart at midfield. The rebuilding effort offers a new challenge to the champion Bobcats, who will look to continue adding to the accomplishments they've already achieved in a brief but decorated history.

AJ Coleman
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Varney Smith
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