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Field Hockey postseason starts

Maybe this will be the year.

Maybe this will be the field hockey tourney season when the area finally has a team in the Division II finals.

There hasn’t been one since Souhegan topped Portsmouth for what was then the Class I title back in 2007.

But this year, it will take a lot of doing.

The one local entry in the tournament gets to wait until Sunday, but it may be worth it as in Division II the No. 4 Souhegan Sabers (12-2) host No. 5 Pelham (11-3) in the quarterfinals (they both have byes). Remember, Pelham stunned Souhegan in last year’s quarterfinals.

Preliminary games will be played today around the state as No. 8 Sanborn hosts No. 9 John Stark. No. 7 Goffstown hosts No. 10 Bow, and No. 11 Kingswood heads to No. 6 Merrimack Valley.

Derryfield, Hanover and Kennett, the top three seeds, have byes as well.

The Sabers have to be champing at the bit to face Pelham, which ruined their title chances a year ago. Souhegan did beat the Pythons early in the season at home, 1-0.

The Sabers started the season in great fashion, winning their first 10 games and not allowing a goal until the tourney’s top seed, Derryfield, came to Amherst and left with a decisive 3-0 win two weeks ago, capitalizing on three of their five penalty corners.

And if the Sabers can get past Pelham on Sunday, it’s likely they would face Derryfield in the semis at Exeter’s Bill Ball Stadium on Halloween.

“It’s that mental hurdle for us,” Sabers coach Kelli Braley said back then with regard to the Cougars and their top scorer Lindsey Stagg. “Knowing who they are and knowing what they possess and being able to overcome that.”

Souhegan’s only other loss was 2-0 at Hanover last week in their regular season finale.

Braley said Souhegan likes to move the ball east-west, and has allowed just seven goals all year. Defenders Izzy Aiello, Caroline Mastergeorge and goalie Ellie Byram are huge keys.

Braley says the Sabers love the big games.

“It’s exciting,” she said earlier this season. “It’s what you get out of bed for. It’s the level of compete. It’s the thing athletics teaches our girls better than anything else does – the how to persevere, the grit, the determination it takes, the teamwork it takes to overcome obstacles like this, and the fact you can’t do it on your own.”

Milford High School finished off the season at 2-12 and did not qualify for the postseason.

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