Sabers edge Bulldogs for D-I title
MANCHESTER – Sometimes team meetings can actually work. Just ask the Souhegan High School girls lacrosse team.
After the Sabers had lost to Londonderry by a goal back on May 9, coach Maren Petropulos got everyone together in a room, closed the door, and they hashed things out.
“We were in there for a good hour, maybe more,” Petropulos said. “Nothing bad came out of it.”
In fact, a state championship came out of it.
The Sabers went 9-0 after that pow-wow, including a thrilling 10-9 Division I title win over Bedford on Wednesday night at Southern New Hampshire University’s Larkin Field. It’s Souhegan’s first
championship since 2008.
It wasn’t easy, though. The No. 2 Sabers (18-2) were trailing the top-seeded Bulldogs 7-5 with 4:37 left in the first half after one of Bedford (17-3) sniper Hannah McCarthy’s four goals.
But then, as streaky teams can do, Souhegan was off and running. The Sabers scored five unanswered into the second half, including two goals in the last 20 seconds of the first half, the final one by senior Emma Estabrook with just four seconds left to give them a lead, 8-7, they would never relinquish.
“We’ve called Emma our X-factor,” Petropulos said. “She’s under the radar.”
“I think it was important we settled the ball down,” Estabrook said. “It was something we struggled with. We just came from behind.”
“I think with the time getting away from us, we lost that momentum a little bit, it got (her players) a little frazzled,” Bedford coach Christine Hodgdon said. “Giving up those late goals kind of put us on our heels.”
“We just went on a roll,” Petropulos said. “The girls just kicked it in. We had gotten a little sloppy in there, we had better shots on goal, and our defense turned some things over.”
Abigail Cranney had three goals while Savannah Behn and Estabrook had two apiece. Single Saber goals were by Samantha Jay, Taylor Clark, and Isabelle Aiello. Jay had three assists while Brigid Casey, Clark and Cranney had single assists. Mackenzie MacEachern chipped in with three goals for Bedford.
Cranney beat Bedford goalie Emily Burton (seven saves) with 17:13 left to give the Sabers a 9-7 lead and Behn tallied to make it 10-7 with 12:38 left. After that, it was just a matter of hanging on and relying also on goalie Meaghan Allard (seven saves). The second half was much more defensive on both sides than the first.
“It appeared to be whoever was getting the draw was scoring,” Petropolus said. “We switched a couple of things up on the draw, and the second half was very defensive. Night and day. We talked to our ‘D’ and we tried to switch that up a little bit.”
Bedford’s Sydney Lynch (assisted by Mackenzie Chou, who had four) then scored with 12:38 left to snap the Saber streak. McCarthy then scored with a free position goal with 1:04 left to increase the drama at 10-9, but the Sabers got draw control and ran out the clock.
“It feels amazing,” Casey said. “Going from the first half when the scoring was so high to the second half when there was such little scoring. It means we were composed.”
A meeting of the minds, more or less. Just like in May.