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Littleton celebrates its Division IV girls' soccer title on Saturday. (Bruce Taylor/Union Leader)

NHIAA D-IV Girls' Soccer Championship: Littleton shuts down Newmarket to win crown

MANCHESTER - After Littleton High School won the NHIAA Division IV girls' soccer title Saturday, Littleton forward Allison Horne called her squad a dream team.

Runners-up in Division IV last year, the third-seeded Crusaders fulfilled their title aspirations with a 1-0 victory over No. 4 Newmarket Junior-Senior High School at Southern New Hampshire University.

Littleton (18-2) applied offensive pressure early, keeping the ball in Newmarket's end for much of the first half. The Crusaders scored what turned out to be the game winner with 5:41 left in the opening frame when Horne retrieved a loose ball in front of the Mule net and poked it past goalkeeper Annaliese Schmidt.

"It hit off a few of our players and a couple defensemen, and I guess I was just in the right place at the right time," said Horne, a freshman who also scored both goals in Littleton's 2-1 semifinal victory over No. 2 Woodsville.

The Crusaders' swarming defense held Newmarket to only two shots and continually frustrated attempts by Mule forwards Bridgette Dubois and Hannah Wood to make things happen.

"We kept it out of our goalie's hands, that was the key," said Littleton coach Kory Pinard. "You just don't want them to have all the opportunities to take a bunch of shots, and we did hold them from taking a bunch of shots today."

Newmarket's best scoring opportunity came three minutes into the second half, when Dubois took a feed from Jessica Whitman on a break but missed the net wide right. With about 10 minutes left, Horne missed a chance to pad Littleton's slim lead, cutting to the middle after taking a feed from Madison McNamara and firing point blank on Schmidt, who made the save.

Newmarket coach Andrew Dawson, whose team upended defending Division IV champion Sunapee High School in the semifinals and finished the season with a 16-4 mark, said there's a reason Littleton has emerged as a force among the state's small schools.

"They're well coached, they hold the ball well and they like to score early and hold onto a lead," he said. "That's their game plan, and they do it very well."

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