Souhegan girls finish undefeated in NH

AMHERST – It may have been the regular-season finale, but it certainly felt like the postseason at Souhegan High School on Friday night.

The fans in the packed bleachers were loud, the players were tense on the sidelines and physical on the field, and coaches were frantically barking out orders during the chaotic final minutes. Multiple people in attendance had their cell phones out trying to capture the end.

When the final horn sounded, a sea of white and gold flooded midfield as the Sabers girls lacrosse team capped an impressive regular season with a 9-8 win over Bishop Guertin.

Souhegan (17-1) clinched the top seed in Division I earlier in the week, but with Friday’s win finished undefeated in the state and were tested by a Cardinals team they could very likely see again in the postseason.

It’s a good position for a team with sights set on nothing short of a championship.

“Even though this game didn’t matter because we already sealed the top spot, it was still important for us to go out and win this game,” Sabers coach Maren Petropulos said. “It was a great way to finish. We absolutely have things to work on. We’re not a flawless team by any means. BG was just relentless.”

Souhegan trailed by as many as three goals in the first half, and had to tie the game on three separate occasions as the Cardinals’ aggressive defense frustrated the Sabers throughout.

Brigid Casey scored the game-winner with 4:11 to play.

The Sabers won the ensuing faceoff and played keep-away for most of the final four minutes. But multiple turnovers and a pair of key saves by BG goalkeeper Lauren Trepaney gave the Cardinals a shot at the equalizer.

Trepaney (11 saves) gained possession with 1:17 left and passed the ball for a long clearing attempt that came up short. Souhegan regained possession and control once again.

Trepaney had the ball once again in the final seconds but the officials missed a timeout call with 2.3 seconds left and BG ran out of time.

“It was intense, but we’ve been in this situation before and we know how to handle it and we know who can carry the ball well,” said Sabers attack Emma Estabrook, who scored two of her three goals in the second half.

Cardinals coach Kerry D’Ambroise was impressed with the overall play of both squads.

“It was back and forth for each team,” she said. “So I think no matter what you’re going to have that with both teams being so poised.”

The loss dropped BG to 14-3 for the season. They enter the tournament as the third seed.

“I think it went down exactly how I predicted,” D’Ambroise said. “These are two of the strongest teams so you’re going to have one heck of a game. I think it could’ve went either way. It’s just we were up and we turned it over and they were able to capitalize on it.”

The Cardinals responded to Souhegan’s opening tally with four consecutive goals to take the largest lead of the game for either side with 10:52 left in the first half.

Estabrook ended BG’s run with a goal at 5:39 and Kate Bermingham scored with 49.1 seconds left to cut the deficit to 4-3 at halftime.

The Sabers took their first lead since their 1-0 advantage on Estabrook’s goal to put them up 7-6 with 15:14 left in the game.

The Cardinals responded less than three minutes later on a free-position goal by Olivia Koutsos. Koutsos scored again 41 seconds later to give BG an 8-7 lead, stepping inside before cutting to the outside and beating Souhegan goalie Meaghan Allard high.

But as the state’s best team, the Sabers had the finishing touch.

Souhegan got multiple fruitless looks at the cage in what was a long possession, but Estabrook buried an unassisted equalizer at 7:57, putting Casey in position for the winner.