By Chuck Frye firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — BEDFORD, N.H. — Windham can be disappointed in the outcome, but the road to its 3-1 state finals loss to Laconia was nothing but positive.
In only three years, the Jaguars made it to the Division 2 finals, and the returning players are treating yesterday’s result as a springboard to even better things to come.
“It’s a tradition that we’re going to follow next year,” said junior goalie Kelsey Federico. “We’re going to do even better, use this to our advantage.”
It’s hard to imagine that Federico could play any better than she did against a speedy, aggressive Raiders team that constantly kept offensive pressure on.
Federico stood on her head to keep Lebanon off the scoreboard, turning aside 23 shots. Particularly impressive was a second-half sequence where she dove Tim Thomas-style to pick Jennifer Laramie’s shot off the right post, then stopped a pair of point-blank rebound attempts.
When asked if Lebanon had the best offense she faced this season, Federico said, “I think I’ve seen better over the course of the year. I thought our defense played extremely hard, and I played the hardest I could and I have no regrets with how things went.”
Nor should she, as Federico definitely kept Windham in the hunt, but Lebanon held the ultimate edge on goals from Emily Perryman and Shauna Rankin-Byrne within 1 1/2 minutes of each other.
Sophomore Justine Levesque got the Jaguars on the board with 2:13 left in the first half, only 55 seconds after Rankin-Byrne’s score.
“We had a quick breakaway downfield and I got a crossover pass (from junior Nicole Croteau),” Levesque said. “I didn’t really think of the shot. I just hit it and it went in.
“I was so happy. It definitely got us pumped up for the rest of the game.”
However, Lebanon was able to condense the midfield with effective long-range passes and control possession near the Windham net. Rankin-Byrne’s second tally 7 1/2 minutes into second-half play restored the two-goal advantage and the Jaguars couldn’t mount enough of an attack to respond.
“We hadn’t played Lebanon and we didn’t know what to expect out of them,” said Windham head coach Amanda Ward. “I think they caught us off guard, but it was a great game, well-fought. We played hard and tough to the very end.”
Levesque added: “Last year, we didn’t make it that far in the playoffs, and this year we took it and brought it all the way to the championship. Even though we didn’t win it, we made it further than any field hockey team did in school history. I’m proud of how we did.”
Lebanon 3, Windham 1
Division 2 state final
at Bedford High School
Goals: W — Justine Levesque; L —
Assists: W — Nicole Croteau; L —
Saves: W — Kelsey Federico 23; L — Emily Foster 3
Penalty corners: W — 7; L — 16
Lebanon (15-1-1): 2 1 — 3
Windham (13-3-1): 1 0 — 1