Three field hockey finals today
It's tough climbing the mountain - and even tougher staying on top. All three No. 1 seeds face that challenge today in an NHIAA field hockey championship tripleheader at Bedford High.
The action begins with the Division II final between No. 1 Lebanon (14-1-1) and No. 3 Windham (13-2-1) at noon. In Division I, top-ranked Pinkerton of Derry (13-1-2) plays two-time defending champion Winnacunnet of Hampton (14-2) at 2:30 p.m., followed by the Division III final between No. 1 Derryfield (16-1) and No. 2 Berlin (15-2) at 5 p.m.
Pinkerton, seeking to avoid another bridesmaid finish, has yet to allow a goal in the postseason. The Astros have taken runnerup three times since 2008, including a grueling loss to Winnacunnet in 2010. In that final, Pinkerton led 3-1 with 13 minutes to play, but the Warriors rallied for a stunning 4-3 victory.
Pinkerton earned a ticket to the finals with an overtime goal by Julie Saltamartini, who beat Exeter in the 70th minute and scored the only goal of the semifinal battle. Meanwhile, the Warriors, going for their third consecutive title, are working on a field hockey dynasty this decade. Winnacunnet coach Heidi Hand hasn't lost in the postseason, going 8-0, since taking over the program three years ago. Taylor Blood and Grace Primavera (12 goals) are among nine seniors who've taken the program to new heights.
'These seniors are so dedicated. They're passionate about the sport and show a lot of heart. The younger girls just thrive off of it,' said Hand, whose team dismantled Salem, 2-0, in the semifinals. '(The final) is definitely going to be a good game. It will come down to who wants it more. Who'll make that extra sprint?'
In the Division II semis, Bow took a 2-0 lead on Lebanon but couldn't break its spirit. The Raiders built momentum with goals from Shauna Rankin-Byrne, Megan Willeman, Taylor Friedman and eventually won in overtime, 4-3, on sophomore Emily Perryman's game winner. Windham eyes its first field hockey title in the program's short history.
In Division III, Derryfield meets Berlin in the championship for the third time since 2005. Two years ago, Derryfield beat the Mountaineers, 2-0, to capture the first Division III crown. In 2005, Berlin beat Derryfield for the then-Class M-S title.