MANCHESTER, NH – The Derryfield School varsity field hockey team entered Thursday’s contest with a 4-6 record. On the other side of the field stood 8-1 Portsmouth.
Yet when the competition began, anyone watching from the sideline or stands would likely have had difficulty recognizing the record disparity between the two squads.
For three-and-a-half quarters, the Cougars battled and very nearly sunk the Clippers, but an untimely delay and two late goals led to a 3-1 setback despite the season-best effort.
“This was the biggest game for them, that they really worked together and worked as a unit, and that’s something we’ve been trying to accomplish for so long that to see it happen today, against one of the best teams in the league, I couldn’t be happier with what they did today,” said Derryfield head coach Kelsey Federico, in her first full year as head coach after a shortened 2020 fall season. “I’m just happy, as a head coach, that from our first game to this one, we’ve constantly been improving, we haven’t been dipping, and that’s all I can ask for.”
After holding Portsmouth to one goal in the first half Thursday, Derryfield’s Kennedy Overhoff managed to work the ball in on the right side of the net and centered a pass to a wide open Hannah Schwalke who buried the equalizer five minutes into the third quarter.
“That was the highlight of the night, to see what we’ve been working on and to see that they executed it … I’ll take it any day,” said Federico.
Portsmouth head coach Sara Carpenter said that goal, combined with the Cougars’ tireless effort, had her team on the ropes.
“I think they just came out with more aggressiveness than we did, which you never want to see as a coach, that the other team is just outplaying you, and that’s kind of what it was like,” she said. “After the first quarter, they’re outplaying you. At halftime, they’re outplaying you. After the third quarter they’re outplaying you.”
Carpenter said her team was fortunate when the officials blew the whistle due to darkness and called both teams to their respective benches to allow the lights to come on about halfway through the fourth quarter. That, she said, allowed her players to regroup.
The Clippers came out of the timeout and scored two late goals, one with 6:33 left in the contest and another a minute later. They then survived a late push from the Cougars to secure the win.
“I’m expecting that if we compete like we did tonight, we have a shot heading into the playoffs of making a difference there,” said Federico.
Carpenter said she just hopes it’s not her squad that has to face the Cougars in the postseason.
“They really forced us to play hard, which wasn’t necessarily the worst thing for us. Moving forward, we’ll be able to point to this game and say “remember that Derryfield game,” she said, “but yeah it would be a little scary for us to have to play them again.”
Leading the Cougars this season are right midfielder Maddy Brown and center back Anna Induni.
“They bring so much respect to this team. They are two of the best young women that I know, just really good, compassionate, selfless people who are just looking to improve this team and play their part. I couldn’t ask for more,” said Federico. “The amount of work they put in coming into this season, it was nothing I pressured them to do, they did it on their own accord, and people are following suit.”
Also impressing their coach of late are attacking forwards Overhoff, Ann Young and Kira Geddes. Freshman Chloe Bremberg also stepped up to play defensive center midfield Thursday and impressed her coach.
Also contributing this season are Margaret Abate, Kenzie Miller, Elena Moore, Taylor Hardner, Charlotte Smith, Kennedy Amorim, Sarah Stonacker and Jess Avalon.
“Honestly, they all work together,” said Federico. “They’re doing a really good job.”