In field hockey playoffs: Raiders trump Falcons 2-1 in DIII semi finals

NCFHsemi BRoyer

North Country’s Brittany Royer (left) challenges Stowe Raider Ginger Turner for control during Wednesday’s DIII semi final at UVM’s Moulton-Winder Field. Photo by Richard Creaser

by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle 11-4-2013

“We stuck right through it and gave it all we got,” Falcon Alexis Bussiere said after the game.  “We never gave up.  That’s how we’ve played all year.”

The character displayed by the 2013 squad is what has impressed North Country Coach Chantelle Bouchard about her team.  While referring to a sporting team as a family is somewhat of a cliché, in this case, it is entirely appropriate, she said.

“They’ve been together, most of them, since they were freshmen,” Coach Bouchard said.  “They’ve grown up together as teammates and they have an incredible bond with each other.  It’s never been about just one player, it’s always been about the team.”

NCFHsemi Buckles

Falcon Jessica Buckles (right) clears the ball as Stowe Raider Hannah Wykoff closes in. Photo by Richard Creaser

The Falcons started off slowly, despite speedy field conditions quite unlike conditions on their own home turf.  The artificial surface of Moulton-Winder Field led to a sprinting match between the Falcons and Raiders as the ball shot through gaps and just kept rolling.  With very little to diminish the ball’s speed, the first touch became more critical than ever.  Through the early goings of the first half, the advantage definitely went Stowe’s way.

Seeing her players struggling to put together an offensive push, Coach Bouchard called a timeout trying to get them to refocus.  Coming out of the timeout the Falcons emerged as a more cohesive squad.

“She told us to step up and play to our ability,” Bussiere said.  “She told us to keep pushing, tough it out and give it all we’ve got.  So we did.”

NCFHsemi Haab

Stowe Raider Ricki Haab (far left) launches a rocket of a shot that would give the Raiders a 1-0 lead in the second half of Wednesday’s DIII semifinal match at UVM’s Moulton-Winder Field. Falcon defenders Brittany Verge (left) and Stephanie Tarryk (far right) flank North Country’s goalie Myrriah Gonyaw. Photo by Richard Creaser

Suddenly the game wasn’t going to be a lopsided romp by the Raiders.  The Falcons came alive and took the ball to Stowe goalie Maddie Schaal creating several good scoring chances.  Despite several solid opportunities by both sides the score remained scoreless at the half.

Stowe would get on the board first as Ricki Haab belted a corner from Colleen McGovern that deflected off a Falcon stick to pop over goalie Myrriah Gonyaw’s head with 22:38 to play in the second half.  While it cannot be said with absolute certainty that Gonyaw would have saved a straight-on shot, the altered trajectory made a save all but impossible for the North Country senior.

The situation grew even more dire as Mariah Barrows knocked in Stowe’s second goal on a feed from Ula Klein with 9:42 to play in the game.  Based on the play of the two teams to that point, a two-goal lead appeared insurmountable.

NCFHsemi last

Fighting to the very end, North Country’s Brittany Fortier (left) fires in what would be the last playable ball in Wednesday’s DIII semifinal against the Stowe Raiders. Lining up for the Raiders are, from left to right: Ginger Truner, Sophie Clymer, goalie Maddie Schaal (obscured), Caitlin Duff and Colleen McGovern. Despite a late goal from the Falcons’ Alexis Bussiere, the Raiders would hang on to win 2-1. Photo by Richard Creaser

That’s when the Falcons’ “never say die” attitude kicked in.  The Falcons pressed the attack with renewed vigor, determined to make a game of it.  North Country’s moment finally came as Bussiere snapped in a feed from Adrianna Fournier to cut Stowe’s lead in half with 2:35 left in regulation.

The Falcons would continue to fight until the very end generating a few more chances even as the clock wound down.  By the time the buzzer sounded, there was little doubt that both teams had given their all.  While it was a disappointing end to a fantastic season, Coach Bouchard had nothing but praise for her girls.

“They played a great game to cap off an amazing season,” Coach Bouchard said.  “I want the girls to remember the experience and the heart that they put into each and every game.  It wasn’t the ending we wanted, but it was a season to remember.”

Contact Richard Creaser at nek_scribbler@hotmail.com.  For more sports stories please see our sports category on this site or subscribe.

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