These teams want to avoid more tourney heartbreak
The high school post season is almost fully here. It has come and gone for golf, and field hockey’s state tourney begins on Tuesday. Most other sports will join in in a week, but the football playoffs still nearly three weeks away.
Where has the time gone? The fall tournament season from a year ago is still fresh in this mind, and there are some teams that had a rough exit last late October/early November that should have a chance at changing that result in the 2019 tourney season.
Let’s take a look at some teams that had tough 2019 memories and are pushing to make 2020 offer a different script:
NASHUA SOUTH BOYS SOCCER
Oh, so we ever remember the frustration of giving up the game-tying goal with just a few seconds left vs. Salem in last year’s preliminary round at Stellos Stadium, and then seeing the Blue Devils win in penalty kicks. It was one of the toughest local losses these eyes have ever seen.
The Panthers have a talented, deep team, and new coach Tom Bellen has felt all season his players, many of whom are back from last year, can make a deep run. The Panthers may finish in the top four in Division I, which would give them home field for the first two rounds.
SOUHEGAN FIELD HOCKEY
The Sabers finished the season at 12-2 and certainly have the talent to push into at least the semifinals.
There’s always that one team that keeps them from the trophy. It used to be Windham annually in the semis, but then the Jaguars moved up to Division I and it looked like the coast was clear for Coach Kelli Braley’s crew. Oops, along came Pelham and stunned them in last year’s quarterfinals. It might be just as tough this year, with Derryfield, Hanover and Pelham all difficult opponents, but let’s have fun finding out.
MILFORD GIRLS SOCCER
Remember last year’s Spartan pain of losing in penalty kicks in the finals at Stellos?
It’s a tough road to get all the way back there in Division II this year. The Spartans are 10-3-1, their losses to local rivals Hollis Brookline and Bow. There are a ton of good teams outside a loaded Division II, such as Bow, Hanover (both unbeaten) and Pembroke, not to mention Souhegan and HB. The toughest road is here for all three. You might want to put the Cavaliers into that heartbreak category. They lost a hard-fought quarterfinal to Milford last year.
This will be one heckuva tournament.
NASHUA SOUTH GIRLS VOLLEYBALL
One of the best stories of the last two falls with their transformation from good team to title contender. This is the team that for two years has salivated at a chance to face perrenial Divsision I dynasty Hollis Brookline, whom they don’t play in this current two year (this is the second year) scheduling cycle in Division I.
The Panthers certainly are primed. They have one of the best offensive players around in Kara Kelliher. They are unbeaten (15-0) going into this final regular season week, were the No. 2 seed when they were stunned by Bedford in the semis last year, spoiling what would have been a super final. Ironically, they visit the Bulldogs (9-6) on Monday night. We may get that big final this year.
CAMPBELL GIRLS SOCCER
The Cougars have suffered some tough Division III semifinal defeats, none tougher than last year’s 2-1 loss at the hands of Stevens at Bank of New Hampshire Stadium in Laconia. They fell behind 2-0 then put on a charge that just came short by a few bounces.
This year the Cougars are contenders again at 12-2 and primed for a return to Laconia. Let’s see if they can make the extra push.
The Cougars were broken hearted at icy Wildcat Stadium at the University of New Hampshire last November, when they had watch Monadnock drive down the field for a Division III championship game winning field goal. It’s rare in high school football and the toughest way to go at any level.
Can Campbell get back there? Last year the Cougars and Huskies were the division’s dominant teams, but this year the compeititon is much more spread out. Incidentally, this Saturday, guess who comes to Litchfield? Yup, you guessed it, the big M.
NASHUA NORTH FOOTBALL
One local team’s thrill is another’s agony. Who can forget when Merrimack’s Ben Eichman sloshed his way through the Student Memorial Field mud at MHS into the end zone in overtime last year for a 6-0 win in a classic weather impact Division I quarterfinal.
The Titans and Curtis Harris have bounced back nicely to go 7-0, and ironically play those same Tomahawks – who had their own tough ending last November to Bedford in the semis – this Friday night in a key West Conference game at Stellos. And who knows, there could be a playoff rematch. The point is, there’s a lot more important football to be played.
And plenty of tournament games in the other sports, too. The season is just about here.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,firstname.lastname@example.org, or@Telegraph _TomK.