MANCHESTER - Windham or Bedford. Either way it will be the first Division II girls' lacrosse state championship for one program.
Top-ranked Windham (15-2) edged a scrappy No. 4 Winnacunnet of Hampton team by an 11-10 score, and Bedford senior Drew Shapiro scored six goals, including the final two of the game, to help the No. 3 Bulldogs (16-3) overcome No. 2 seed Hanover 14-13 in semifinal playoff action at Southern New Hampshire University Saturday.
The Division II state championship game will be held at SNHU Tuesday night at 7. Bedford has never won a lacrosse championship and Windham will seek its first title in DII after winning the past two Division III state championships.
Bedford won the regular season meeting, 16-14 last month.Windham 11, Winnacunnet 10: Winnacunnet (13-4) came out strong, leading 4-1 early and 7-5 at halftime. But Windham began to turn it up in the second half and a key play turned the tide. With just over 11 minutes remaining, Winnacunnet's Kelly Dolan scored to give the Warriors a would-be 9-7 lead. But the goal was waived off and Dolan was given a yellow card and sent off for two minutes.
During that span, Windham scored three goals to take a 10-8 lead and eventually extended that to 11-9 after the teams traded goals.
"Those goals on the yellow card we're critical. We had a yellow card earlier and we didn't capitalize on it," said Windham head coach Jill Bartlett. "We straightened up our defense (at halftime). They were a little out of sorts at first. I think it was really a mental adjustment for them more so than playing (different). They were a little more determined to want it and play for it."
Winnacunnet got a goal from Meg Dzialo with 22 seconds remaining in the game to cut the lead to 11-10, but Windham won the ensuing faceoff and closed out the win to secure a date in Tuesday's final.
It was a much closer contest Saturday than when the teams met to open the season. Back on April 16 it was all Windham in an 18-8 win. A lot changed since then as the Warriors won seven games to close the regular season and then beat a good Bishop Guertin of Nashua squad in the quarterfinals.
"The girls have progressed so much the last couple weeks. They played together as a team. Going into the tournament we're a much different team than when we played them (to open the season)," said Winnacunnet head coach Michaela Hardy. "It was a great matchup for us and we were excited. It turned a little bit on that yellow card. They scored three goals off that and the momentum changed in Windham's favor. But our team battled to the very end."
Courtney Sweeny and Melissa Cino scored four goals each for Windham and Ali Connors added three tallies. Hope Curtis recorded two assists and goalkeeper Vittoria Cipollone made four saves. Winnacunnet was led by Dolan (four goals, assist), Megan Chase (two goals), Dzialo (two goals), Shauna Morrison (goal, assist) and Alia Strukel (goal).
Keeper Cierra Dumont made seven saves. Bedford 14, Hanover 13: The score was the same two weeks ago when the teams met in the regular season, but it was Hanover (16-4) winning that game. Saturday, Bedford turned the tables to fight its way into the state title game.
The game was back and forth for the entire 50 minutes with neither team taking more than a two-goal lead at any time and both squads going on three or four goal runs to reclaim the lead after falling behind.
Bedford led 8-6 at halftime, but Hanover scored the first three of the second half to take a brief 9-8 lead. Overall, the game was tied nine times.
"It was exactly what we expected. One of the things we worked on is either our high-pressure defense if that happens or stalling the ball (on offense)," said Bedford head coach Christine Hodgdon. "Get a turnover and stall the ball the last 30 seconds, that was what we wanted if we were up."
Hannah Seibel scored with 4:04 remaining in the game to give Hanover a 13-12 lead. Shapiro tied the game with 2:04 remaining and then netted the game-winner on a spin shot from the left side with 38 seconds to go.
"I think that last bit of adrenaline kicked in when we started to lose a lot of draws in a row," Shapiro said. "Sawyer (Biron) came up really big on the draws. I don't think we would have won that game without Sawyer in the draw circle. She's been amazing."
Bedford was able to control the ball off the faceoff and run down the clock to put the game away.
"It was a well-played game. Bedford was better conditioned than we were," said Hanover head coach Chris Seibel. "Bedford's a really good team. They pressured really well and we couldn't get into that set that we wanted to (to stall with the lead)."
Shapiro's six goals led the way for Bedford while Makayla Sterling added three, Kristen Barnett had two and Kelsey Linehan (goal, assist), Kennedy Boyle and Biron each had a single tally. Bulldogs goalie Ashley Maddox made seven saves.
Seibel led Hanover with four goals and an assist. Rachel Boghosian (three goals), J.J. Daniell (three goals), Sophie Lubranon (goal, assist), Johanna Copeland (goal), Christine Croitoru (goal) and Molly Seibel (assist) chipped in for the Marauders. Goalie Emily Gougelet stopped 11 shots.