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NHIAA: Merrimack holds off Exeter field hockey

Special to the Union Leader

September 13. 2017 11:56PM

MERRIMACK — With the clock ticking away, it seemed all but over for Exeter. But on their 12th penalty corner of the contest, a goal cut the Merrimack lead to one.

Despite the goal with 46 seconds left, Exeter’s comeback fell just short in a 3-2 loss to Merrimack Wednesday evening. Merrimack was led by an eight-save effort from Heather Rohr in net.

“I hate to compare to last season, but it was disappointing last year,” said Merrimack head coach Ann MacLean. “This is a really good win against a really good team. I like the consistency.”

The fourth win of the season is the team’s third win in a row overall as the Tomahawks (4-2) continued to find their midseason groove.

“I thought it was a big win,” said junior Brenna Davenport. “It was a team effort. We had good passing and communicated and executed well.”

Before Wednesday’s contest, the Tomahawks had exploded in two games prior, scoring 11 goals.

“I think it’s clicking. We’re getting used to playing with each other,” said MacLean. “It’s awesome, it’s all coming into its own.”

The Tomahawks got on the board first with 11:22 to go in the first half off the stick of Julia Valluzzi. The midfielder broke through the defense and was in alone on the cage. Exeter goalie Laney Hayward was aggressive out of the net, but Valluzzi was able to get the shot through to make it 1-0.

Three minutes later, Hunter Webb found the back of the net on a penalty corner. The Tomahawks had eight penalty corners on the day.

For the Blue Hawks (1-4), it took just four minutes into the second half to make an adjustment when Exeter’s Alyssa Pietz tapped one in.

The Tomahawks answered back with a tally from Marissa Ballard to make it 3-1, and that score held true until there were 46 seconds remaining in the game.

That’s when Teagan Healy cut it to within one goal, but it wasn’t enough. Rohr made another late save to secure victory.

“She was amazing,” said MacLean of her goalie. “High balls, ground balls, everything. I’m proud of her.”

Davenport agreed, Rohr’s performance was a show stopper when they needed her the most.

“She did a really good job,” she said. “She had good saves that were important. She played her butt off.”

The Blue Hawks did have 13 corners in their favor, but couldn’t capitalize. It’s still something for the Tomahawks to improve on.

“We’re making a lot of fouls inside the circle,” said MacLean. “We have to work as a team and work on that.”

Merrimack returns to action on Friday against Londonderry, while Exeter will host Nashua South tonight.

NHIAA Merrimack Exeter