Souhegan pulls off dramatic 1-0 win over Milford in OT

MILFORD – The two regular sea­son matchups between Milford and Souhegan ended in overtime. The field hockey teams followed that script during Saturday’s Division II quarterfinals matchup at Jacques Memorial Elementary School. This time, however, there was a differ­ent outcome.

Souhegan’s Katherine Casey se­cured a rebound in overtime and snuck it past Milford goalie Lilly Erdody, giving the No. 5 Sabers (12- 4) a dramatic 1-0 victory over the No. 4 Spartans (11-4).

They traded penalty corners throughout much of overtime, with neither offense capitalzing. That was until Casey settled a corner shot and managed to score the game’s only goal, resulting in cel­ebration on Souhegan’s bench, and disappointment on Milford’s.

"It was a little slow in the first half, but it was nice that we were able to hold them off," Souhegan coach Kelli Braley said. "I think we came out of halftime and really turned on the pressure. And then in overtime, I just couldn’t be hap­pier with their play. I subbed mini­mally, and they were able to outlast and take it right to the very end."

The game was back-and-forth through the first 60 minutes, with neither squad establishing much offensively. Neither goalie was tested until the second, when both teams started putting shots on goal. There were several opportunities, including golden chances for both Souhegan’s McKenzie Robinson and Milford’s Cora Rogers, but the defenses consistently ended any threats, and Erdody and Souhe­gan’s Madeline Maurais stopped every shot that came their way.

The teams were even during the regular season – their two previous meetings decided by one goal, they finished within one win of each other in the standings, and they scored roughly the same number of goals over the course of those 14 games. Therefore, it was anticipat­ed that the quarterfinals matchup would be close, a sentiment shared by both coaches.

"Both of those games we lost in the regular season were tough battles," Braley said. "But in both of those overtime losses I feel we controlled a fair bit of the play. They were just capitalizing on the chances they had

and that was something we needed to stop. So we changed our defensive plan going in to this game, and those adjustments paid off in a big way."

"I think the score reflects very even play," Milford coach Tracie Ibarra said. "When I look at our scorebook, the num­bers are basically the same. In my heart, I feel like my team was the better team. It comes down to chance. A little bit of luck, and a lot of skill. It just didn’t go our way this time."

Despite having lost twice to the Spartans during the regular season, the Sabers were confident entering their playoff game. The losses had allowed the coaching staff to zero in on some defensive deficiencies, with the game plan helping to contain Milford’s dynamic duo of Rogers and Nicole McMorrow.

"It’s always better to play the teams that you know," Braley said. "In the first round, Merrimack Valley was a bit of a sur­prise because we hadn’t played them, but we felt comfortable with what Milford was going to bring to the table today."

The Sabers were scheduled to take on top-seeded Lebanon (14-1) in Wednesday’s semifinals at Bill Ball Stadium in Ex­eter. The game was not finished at presstime.