Souhegan advances to semifinals
Sabers eliminate Knights 2-1 in D-II field hockey tourney
AMHERST – The Souhegan field hockey team is going to have one more crack at solving Windham.
This time, there’s a trip to the Division II championship on the line.
Erica Cheries set up Abbey Cranney for the game-winning goal with 11:26 to play and the No. 3 Sabers moved on to the semifinals with a 2-1 victory over No. 6 Kingswood on Sunday afternoon at Calvetti Family Field.
Souhegan (13-2) will square off with No. 2 Windham – a 1-0 winner over No. 7 Kennett Sunday – 5 p.m. Thursday at Exeter’s Bill Ball Stadium. The survivor will play the winner of No. 1 Derryfield and No. 5 Lebanon for the title on Sunday at Bedford High School starting at 2:30 p.m.
"I expect a high-energy, high-intensity, really great game. I have a lot of respect for Windham and the way they play," Souhegan coach Kelli Braley said. "That’s the matchup honestly I want. It’s always nice to go and play the teams at the top to get to that championship game."
The opportunity was made possible when Cranney buried the second of her two goals. Cheries, a captain, kept the play alive and Cranney capitalized with the game-winner to the back of the cage.
"(Cheries) saved the ball right there on the end line and I just tapped it in," Cranney said. "It felt great. … I’m just happy we won."
"Erica Cheries had unbelievable hustle down the field to make that a goal," Braley said. "Abbey has always been a really great finisher for us and that goal doesn’t happen without Erica’s hustle."
Cranney opened the scoring with 17:13 remaining in the first half when pressure from a penalty corner resulted in a McKenzie Robinson cross into traffic, where Cranney put a stick on it and beat the goalie.
Kingswood, which finished the season at 10-5-1, responded three minutes and 55 seconds later with a goal off an elevated shot from Ali House to knot the game.
"My players played hard and they didn’t give up," Kingswood coach Kaitlin Reilly said. "They fought hard for every minute of that game and I’m proud of them for that."
Souhegan goalie Maddie Maurais only needed to make two stops to earn the victory, but one was of the highlight variety – a kick save to keep the game tied going into halftime. The Sabers led 10-3 in shots on goal and held a 12-5 advantage in penalty corners.
"I would follow my goalie to the end of the earth," Braley said. "Our backs are all really well equipped to handle any situation, too, so I think we played an all-around great game."