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Bears edged by Newfound, 2-0

Winnisquam’s Erin McNamara reaches out with her stick for a loose ball during the Bears’ 2-0 loss to Newfound on Friday. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
October 10, 2011
TILTON – The chances were there, but the Winnisquam Regional High School field hockey team just couldn't put it together on Friday, as the Lady Bears dropped a 2-0 decision to undefeated Newfound Regional under sunny skies in Tilton.

"(Newfound is) a strong team," said Winnisquam coach Cherie Snow. "We were much stronger than the first time we played them but we just didn't pull it out."

The teams also met in the season-opener on Aug. 30, a game Newfound won by the same 2-0 score in Bristol. Despite the identical scores, there were many differences between the two meetings.

"That was the girls' first game with me as their coach so I think having been with me for three-quarters of a season, they now understand what I'm looking for," said Snow.

Newfound (11-0) controlled play in the game's first 15 minutes on Friday, but the Bears stayed plenty composed. While Newfound spent a good chunk of that time in the offensive third of the field, Winnisquam's defense made sure goalkeeper Kendra Lonergan wasn't too seriously challenged. Led by sweeper Katie Bungay, the Bears kept the ball away from the cage, forcing Newfound to work the ball around in order to attack.

That left Winnisquam (6-4) able to counterattack, something the Bears took advantage of. With forward Taylor O'Connor speeding up the field to pace the attack, Winnisquam put its first shot on net with nine minutes left in the first half, as O'Connor laid a pass off to Erin McNamara, who fired a shot that was tipped by O'Connor and kicked away by the Newfound goalkeeper.

The final 10 minutes of the half featured back-and-forth play as the field started to open up. Newfound countered Winnisquam's pressure with a one-on-one breakaway on Lonergan, though the keeper was more than up for the task. Lonergan came out to meet the challenge, making an outstanding kick save in the process to keep the game scoreless heading into halftime. Olivia Decormier made a nice defensive clearance to assure there would be no rebound.

"Kendra did an excellent job today," said Snow of her keeper.

While the early portions of the second half saw both teams with chances, Newfound established itself midway through the frame. The visitors kept their offensive pressure up with 11 minutes left, earning four consecutive penalty corners when Winnisquam was unable to clear the circle. After killing off the first three, the Bears were unable to take care of the fourth, as a scrum in front of Lonergan saw Newfound find the back of the net to give it a 1-0 lead with 10 minutes left in regulation.

Winnisquam got three corners of its own with a chance to tie the game later in the period, and Bungay, moving up from her sweeper spot on the play, got a clean shot on goal that was kicked away at the last moment. Newfound quickly turned back the other way, catching the Bears off guard with a transition attack that resulted in an insurance goal with just three minutes remaining, putting the game out of reach 2-0.

"We played well but we just made a few mistakes and you can't afford to do that against a team like Newfound," said Snow. "But you learn from a game like this. Hopefully we'll get a chance to see them again (in the playoffs)."

While the loss dropped Winnisquam to 6-4 on the season, Snow has been pleased with her club, as the Bears had won four straight before the Newfound defeat.

"I'm extremely happy with where we're at," the coach said. "We've got quite a few players that are doing a great job for us and we're starting to put some things together."

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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