By Tris Wykes
Copyright Octopus Athletics 2021
HANOVER – The Hanover High field hockey team’s undefeated season came crashing down Friday, the top-seeded Marauders losing, 2-1, to visiting and ninth-seeded Goffstown in the NHIAA Division II quarterfinals.
“Goffstown played a great game and they were certainly the better team today,” said 19th-year Hanover coach Jean Essex, whose 2020 team was 8-4-1 and also lost in the quarterfinals. “I can’t say enough about my players and my (eight) seniors. They’re sad because they lost a game and unfortunately, it happened in playoffs.
“They should be proud of everything they’ve done. Nobody expected or anticipated they would go this far.”
Grizzlies senior Makayla Strickulis was the game’s best player and said her team thought it could sneak up on the Marauders (13-1-1) after losing to them, 3-1, at Goffstown on Oct. 1.
“We felt we would be underestimated, for sure,” she said. “We grew a lot in the three weeks since we played them and we wanted it bad and I think that showed on the field today.”
Ava Jones tallied twice for the Grizzlies. She pounced on a Hanover turnover deep in the home end and drove directly at goalkeeper Reilly Loughman, shooting and scoring on the run with 20 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Hanover equalized four minutes after halftime, Mia Edmonds firing a shot into a crowd in front of the Goffstown goal and watching it deflect inside the left post.
There was a sense that the Marauders’ comeback had begun, but the Grizzlies (11-6) struck for what proved to be the winning goal seven minutes later. On Goffstown’s third penalty-corner opportunity in as many minutes, a shot was blocked and the ball caromed wide to Jones, who scored from the right side.
“The first time we played them, our passes were not connecting,” said Strickulis, noting that contest was contested on natural grass. “We were really in sync with each other today and playing on turf really helped.”
Hanover repeatedly tried to force the ball up the right side, despite Strickulis’ presence. The Marauders rarely tried the opposite flank, which puzzled the Grizzlies, but also aided the upset.
“It came to me a lot and I was picking off a lot of their passes and waiting for them to switch the field,” said Strickulis, who has committed to the NCAA Division III program at Stonehill (Mass.) University. “I don’t know why they didn’t, but I’m glad it played out that way.
“This might be the biggest upset in the tournament this season. We came in wanting to give them their only loss and it’s an amazing feeling.”
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