Printed: 11/1/2022 12:01:07 AM
Modified: 11/1/2022 12:07:00 AM
LACONIA, N.H. — The Stevens Excessive women soccer crew had destroyed practically all comers within the common season, the Cardinals’ first yr again in NHIAA Division III after a two-year stint in Division II. Stevens scored 72 objectives and allowed simply 4 in 16 video games, opened the playoffs with a shutout of Belmont, then acquired previous four-time defending champion Hopkinton in a penalty shootout to advance to the ultimate 4.
However towards a Gilford crew that had simply as dominant an everyday season — to not point out one which was enjoying lower than a 10-minute drive from house — the third-seeded Cardinals’ offense by no means broke by. A Golden Eagles nook kick with 5 minutes left within the first half led to the sport’s solely objective as Stevens was eradicated, 1-0, within the semifinals at Laconia Excessive.
“When you have got two groups separated by a half-point enjoying within the semifinals, you count on there are going to be restricted probabilities,” Cardinals coach Tim St. Pierre stated. “Whoever makes probably the most of these goes to win, and that’s type of the way it performed out.”
No. 2 seed Gilford managed the sport early, with the Stevens protection and senior goalkeeper Hailey Knight retaining the Golden Eagles off the board. The primary offensive menace for the Cardinals (16-2-1) got here within the fifteenth minute when junior ahead Maddy Minckler acquired the ball behind the protection, however she was dominated offside. Within the twenty seventh minute, junior midfielder Maya Rice drew a foul within the attacking third, however Gilford goalkeeper Margaret Cummings made the save on the ensuing free kick.
The Golden Eagles acquired the break they wanted within the thirty fifth. Millicent Caldon left the ball off to an open Allison Kenyon to her left, and whereas Knight acquired her hand on Kenyon’s shot, she was solely in a position to deflect it behind the baseline for a nook. Kenyon, who had taken a ball to the mouth early within the recreation, despatched the nook kick straight into the top of Gracey LeBlanc, who did the remainder to offer Gilford the lead.
“We began the primary 20 minutes scared to demise,” St. Pierre stated. “It was an enormous second for us, it was an extended experience. We simply began gradual. It was as a result of we had been tentative, not as a result of the youngsters didn’t wish to win.”
Stevens got here out a lot stronger within the second half, getting an early shot on objective by sophomore midfielder Brianna Marsh. Minckler, who scored 15 objectives within the first seven video games of the season, practically had a shot on an empty internet within the 52nd minute as Cummings got here away from the online, however she gathered it in earlier than Minckler may hearth away.
Eleven minutes later, Minckler had maybe the Cardinals’ finest shot of the evening, however a robust save by Cummings stored the Golden Eagles in entrance.
“We talked at halftime on how we simply needed to make one play,” St. Pierre stated. “I used to be so happy with them as a result of we did tilt the sector, and that’s a very onerous crew to tilt the sector on. Urgency generally results in recklessness, which results in lack of precision, in order that’s not all the time getting you to the top objective. We had been actually good with urgency however not shedding composure, which is a very powerful steadiness.”
Stevens will lose Knight, Aidan Antonivich, Tori Dalke, Stella Lavertue and Alyssa Paquette to commencement. These 5 seniors helped the Cardinals attain the semifinals for the primary time since 2019, their final season in Division III earlier than this yr.
“I’ve coached over 400 varsity video games, and (their class) is the brand new customary,” St. Pierre stated. “We had been by no means an underdog this yr, and to me, that’s the truest signal of greatness. It was a awful strategy to finish a spectacular season.”
Benjamin Rosenberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3302.