Souhegan field hockey showing its mettle

AMHERST – They didn’t want to stop playing, thinking it was a tournament game.

Souhegan High School coach Kelli Braley had to literally tell her players at the end of last Tuesday’s 1-1 overtime tie with fellow Division II unbeaten John Stark that yes, the game was over and they should go congratulate Saber goalie Annie Randuazzo.

“The intensity was there for sure,” Braley said. “They wanted to keep going. A tie is not fullfilling, I suppose.”

The two teams remained tied, at 11-0-1, to open this week’s action.

Especially when the Sabers probably thought they had a chance to win it when top scorer Ella Barrett got robbed by sprawling Stark goalie Erin Fischer inside of four minutes left in the OT session.

Fischer got up and handled another shot as well.

“It was very frustrating,” Barrett said. “I thought it was going to go in, but she made a great save. It’s fun going into overtime, and having good competition and a good game, but it’s unfortunate and sad when it doesn’t go in.”

Souhegan took the lead right away, just over three minutes in, on a goal by Chloe Longo as she streaked down the left side almost unhibited.

But the Sabers couldn’t muster much offense thereafter, until the OT flurry. In the meantime, Stark got the equalizer just a minute into the second half by Aubrey Fischer.

“The first quarter was by far our best quarter of the game,” Braley said. “I think if we play four quarters like that it’s a different game, different result.

“I really don’t have an answer for what happened after that. Stark definitely turned it up and brought some intensity.”

“It was a fantastic field hockey game,” John Stark head coach Dennis Pelletier said. “Both teams had ample opportunities there at the end to win it.

“It would be beautiful to see us two in the finals. We definitely compete hard against each other.”

Stark has been tough. They’ve only given up four goals all season and just 18 penalty corners coming in, so it was no surprise the Sabers didn’t get a corner until midway through the third quarter.”

These two teams should finish one-two in the final standings, both having beaten another contender, defending champion Portsmouth, by identical 2-1 scores.

The regular season ends in another week, and right now Kennett and Portsmouth would be Nos. 3 and 4, and potential roadblocks to a Souhegan-Stark final.

In the tournament, anything can happen, but the overtimes will be at least 10 more minutes than Tuesday’s.

“I’d like to see them again in the real tournament,” Braley said, “so we see what an extra-extra tournament atmosphere is like.”