Milford takes down Goffstown

MILFORD – It was just two years ago that the Milford High School field hockey team struggled to score goals and finished the season without a win.

In Tuesday’s Division II preliminary round game against No. 11 Goffstown, the sixth-seeded Spartans needed a little more than seven minutes to score four of them.

Milford scored twice in the final 5:22 of the first half to take a 2-1 lead into overtime, then scored two more goals in the opening 1:48 of the second and held off the Grizzlies 4-2. The win sends Milford to Friday’s quarterfinals, where the Spartans will face No. 3 Kennett on the road.

Cora Rogers had three goals for the Spartans (10-3-2), who seemed to struggle with some nerves for a large portion of the first half. Milford didn’t record a shot on goal until late in the half and trailed 1-0 after Goffstown’s Tori Florence scored off a penalty corner with 18:04 to go in the first.

“We started off very slow,” Milford coach Tracie Ibarra said. “I’d like to say that I expected otherwise, but sometimes, when we go into a game like this, it takes us time to settle down. When we had the time to communicate, we were able to hash it out and make the adjustments to play more of our game.”

Ibarra called a timeout with about 10 minutes left in the half, and out of the break, the Spartans came to life on offense.

Rogers scored her first goal after the ball was lobbed into the circle by Lauren Dishong, flipping a shot under the arm of Goffstown goalie Kaitlyn Benoit to tie the game with 5:22 remaining in the first.

Nicole McMorrow knocked home a loose ball less than four minutes later to give Milford the lead for good. Rogers had both goals in the second half, as the Spartans got all four goals before getting a penalty corner, something Ibarra believed had never happened to the team before.

“I feel like we were down on ourselves,” Rogers said. “We knew they were a great team, but we knew we could do better than what we were doing. Our momentum went straight up.”

Florence cut the lead to two when she took advantage of a ball misplayed by the Milford defense, and Goffstown (5-10) had another second-half goal waved off on a dangerous ball, but the Spartans were able to limit the Grizzlies chances for most of the final 28 minutes of the game.

“It’s pretty tough because we scored and got high on ourselves and then we had to step back,” Rogers said. “Now we have to play defense and rethink. There was still a lot of time. We mostly focused on the defense in the second half.”

Now Milford will take on a team it hasn’t faced in a long time in Kennett (11-3), which has won five in a row and nine of its last 10 games.

“We played them before, I remember my first year coaching, we went there in the first round,” said Ibarra, who has been at Milford for 13 years.

The quarterfinal is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday in North Conway.

“I think that we just need to focus on their strengths and weaknesses,” Rogers said. “Even though we haven’t played them, we can’t go in soft, because we don’t know what we’re going at. We just have to go and get rid of all the jitters.”