Seniors finish up with another title

Every time Mikaela Sullivan walks through the Souhegan High School gym, her eyes fall on the girls soccer championship banners.

The senior goalkeeper sees the nine consecutive championships the school won from 1992-2000. She sees the year 2011 up there as well, a championship that she helped bring back to Souhegan as a sophomore.

There’s room up there for one more, she thinks every time she’s in the gym. And thanks to Saturday’s 2-0 win over Pembroke Academy in the Division II championship game, the Sabers will fill that empty hole.

“There’s a blank spot on the banner right now,” Sullivan said. “I’ve looked at it day in, and day out, and I’ve talked to everyone about it. I’ve pointed it at it and told people to look at it. The other ones are up there, all I can dream of is getting 2013.”

The win caps an incredible run for the senior class – four trips to the semifinals, three straight championship games, and two titles. The only thing keeping Souhegan from three straight was a title game loss in 2012 to rival Milford and Morgan Andrews, who has been starting at Notre Dame and was recently named the ACC Freshman of the Year.

“You don’t see a player like Morgan Andrews every year and (the Sabers) still thought they did everything they could (in 2012),” Souhegan coach Dwayne Andreasen said. “You step into the ring with a heavyweight fighter as a middleweight, and you’re going to get beat up. They were disappointed, and maybe it gave them more, that they weren’t going to let anybody take it away from them again.

Andreasen knew about all of the seniors – Sullivan, Peyton Kent, Taylor Behn, Caroline Schagrin, Shannon Disco, Korina Hahn and Lauren Ostrowski – before they got to the high school, not because any of them stood out on the field, but because of relationships with their parents.

“I was friendly with a lot of their parents, so I was excited to see them come into high school because I knew they were great kids,” he said. “I think they won every state championship in club soccer and club lacrosse. They were just that athletic, and they knew how to win and work hard. When they came in as freshmen, five of them made varsity and started.”

As freshmen, those five helped Souhegan reach the semifinals for the first time since its last championship in 2003. The Sabers lost that game on a controversial call with six seconds left in double overtime that gave Lebanon the game’s only goal and the win.

“The next year, we played that Lebanon clip at least three times,” Sullivan said. “When we got to the championship (in 2011), it was constantly playing and we were talking about it. It can’t haunt us.”

It didn’t haunt the Sabers, thanks to how close they are on and off the field.

“I think it’s very rare that the seven of us have been playing together since we were six or seven,” Kent said. “We have awesome chemistry, not only with our seniors, but through our whole team. The seniors, we work for each other, we know how each other play. We want to have each other to have that amazing, fairy tale ending.”

Kent gave them one as sophomores, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime of the championship game against Hanover.

She’s doing it again in these playoffs. After recording an assist in Souhegan’s 2-1 win over Lebanon in the first round, Kent scored both goals in a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Goffstown, had both scores in regulation in Wednesday’s semifinal win over Hanover and scored a pair in the championship.

That makes six goals and one assist in the 2013 postseason for Kent.

“Seven of our eight goals, you can’t say enough about a girl who does that,” Andreasen said. “She is unbelievable.

“Since her freshman year, she’s been a key part to this team. In the last three (years), she’s been the go-to girl for us, whether it’s scoring, assisting, motivating her teammates.”

That desire to win is what Sullivan believes separates this year’s seniors from some of the other classes that came before them.

“The opponents haven’t gotten weaker, we haven’t gotten stronger, but I would say this team, as a unit, mentally and with heart, we’ve worked together to get the job done,” she said. “That’s what you need to win in the end.”

With the season, and their high school careers done, this senior class has finished its chapter in the history of Souhegan girls soccer.

“They’re all a great bunch of kids,” Andreasen said. “It’s kids that we saw grow up and couldn’t wait until they got to high school. They have exceeded any expectations that we have ever had, but this is the pure storybook ending. All the dreams came true, but they worked hard for them. There is nothing that you can say that doesn’t sound very cliche about these kids and what they’ve done on the soccer field.”