MANCHESTER — Minutes after winning the state championship, senior captain Brynn Polgrean had an emotional moment. It wasn’t just the 18-0 final record or the 305 goals the Cougars scored this season that overwhelmed her. She suddenly realized she was part of history.
“We never won a state title before now and it’s just an unreal feeling that I can’t put into words,” said Polgrean, whose game-high eight goals sparked the top-ranked Cougars to a 19-2 NHIAA Division III Girls’ Lacrosse Tournament championship win over second-ranked John Stark of Weare Thursday at Southern New Hampshire University’s Larkin Field.
“This was an amazing team, and they had a magical season,” said Derryfield head coach Melissa Catenza. “Today we played our game. We played great defense and after a slow start, our offense just got a roll and never looked back. If you ask me what the secret to our success was this year, it simply came down to trust. We trusted each other. We had chemistry and we labeled it sisterhood. Together we knew we couldn’t lose.”
One other senior who played an instrumental role for Derryfield was midfielder Hannah Menakaya. “She was an amazing senior, an amazing leader,” said Catenza. “Whether it was Hannah, Brynn, Polly Carter, whoever, I’ve never seen a group of players who played unselfishly all year.”
Derryfield goalie Cat Green had four saves and Polgrean said “she was focused right down to the final second even though we were ahead by a lot of goals. That tells you right there this team fought to the final second all year.”
No team scored until the 19:37 mark of the first half when Polgrean beat John Stark goalie Clarissa Foote (four saves) with a short, accurate shot in traffic. It seemed that goal set an alarm off because Derryfield’s offense just kept piling on more shots, which led to more goals.
In a minute span, Carter, who finished the game with seven goals, scored two goals, and another one from Madison Kochanek gave the Cougars a 4-0 lead with 13:15 to play in the first half.
John Stark scored its only goal with 12:55 left, by Samantha Valcourt, but Derryfield finished the first half strong for a 9-1 edge. Polgrean and Carter each scored twice more and Alex Campbell-Diehl completed the five-goal run before intermission.
The lead went to 10-1 in the second half on a goal from Emma Garfield, before Stark tallied its last goal from standout Casey Poirier, who scored five goals in the semifinals against Kearsarge. But Derryfield’s offense was just too tough and fast to contain. The Cougars ended the game with a 9-0 run. Polgrean had five of those goals, Carter tallied three more and Garfield got one more for good measure. The game ended with the clock running without stoppage after Derryfield took a 10-goal lead with 18 minutes to play.
“Derryfield held possession for the majority of this game and that was the key,” said John Stark coach John Warner. “They have skill, quickness and depth and that’s a tough combination to beat. Still this was our first appearance in the championship finals and I’m very proud of our girls. Finishing runner-up is a wonderful achievement.”