Exeter ends Souhegan girls’ season

Telegraph photo HECTOR LONGOSouhegan's Clare Woodford fires a shot, despite defense from Exeter's Kailyn Michelson. The Blue Hawks prevailed on Tuesday, 4-0.

EXETER – Exeter High set the tone … times three … and that quick jump ended Souhegan High’s season, 4-0, in the Division I girls hockey playoff opener on Tuesday afternoon.

The sixth-seeded Blue Hawks put up goals 85, 83 and 126 seconds into each of the periods and kept the No. 11 Sabers at bay, advancing to Friday’s state quarterfinal at Oyster River-Portsmouth.

“One early in every period. The last couple games we’ve been good at getting going early, too,” said coach Kelli Braley, whose

Sabers finish out at 7-10-1.

“That first goal in the first

period, I would chalk up to nerves and adrenaline and all that. We just came out a little too flat in each period, and they were gunning.”

Caitlyn Knowles scored the first one, and Shauna Vadeboncoeur had the goal in the second.Maddie Ganley made it 3-0 in the third, and with the Sabers pressing to get back into it, Knowles scored late to ice the win.

“We were hemmed in defensively a little bit, especially in that first period,” said Braley. “We were afraid to take the chances we were going to take. In the third, we started taking some chances with Clare (Woodford) who is our top scorer, and we drew some penalties.”

Woodford showed amazing courage, getting physically knocked around by Exeter, and she just kept coming back.

The late 5-on-3 advantage she sparked provided Souhegan’s best chance late, but with a bit of an open net, Alice Serbin was denied on the far side.

“But by the time we started that generation, it was a little too late,” added Braley.

Exeter, which took the regular season meeting between the two teams in overtime.

For Braley, it’s the second straight tough ending to the year. In the fall, her field hockey Sabers fell in the state finals.

One huge link between the two clubs, of course, is goalie Elle Byram, the senior who made 17 saves yesterday.

She was by no means the only one who had Braley emotional


Riley Tobin, Alice Serbin and Julia Ireland are among the dual-hockey Sabers.

“I spend a lot of time with these girls, together every day at school, every chance we get, in the rink, outside of the rink, so these seniors, especially are huge, and there’s a lot of them,” said Braley. “This one definitely stings. It hurts. I have a lot of girls who have been with me two seasons, four years. This one stinks.

“We are who we are. I’m proud of how hard they worked. I back them, We worked hard getting here, and Exeter finished the job.”