Derryfield girls stun Gilford in PKs

Cougars advance to semis to face three-time defending champs

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Eryn Richards celebrates a goal.
Eryn Richards reacts her decisive PK gaol as teammates charge to celebrate with her.

GILFORD –  Eryn Richards had never scored a game-winning goal.

That changed Monday when Richards planted her penalty kick in the back of the net to send the fifth-ranked Derryfield School girls soccer team to the state semifinals following a 4-3 (4-1) victory at No. 4 Gilford.

“I was nervous, but I got up there and said to myself, ‘there’s no other option but to get this in,’ and I scored,” said Richards, who followed teammates Emma Losey, Lilly Losey and Hailey Ramundo in aiming low and right to make Derryfield 4-for-4 in PKs.

Standout attacking midfielder Emma Losey, who captains the team with fellow seniors Richards and Jen Sheppard, said the 12-3-2 Cougars were well prepared to win the contest heading into the penalty-kick shootout.

Emma Losey may have inadvertently called her shot as she made the first of 4 Derryfield PKs.
Emma Losey called her shot as she made the first of four Derryfield PKs.

“Everyone was a little nervous at first, including me, but we practice PKs and we know that we can make them once we got past those initial nerves,” said Losey. “We definitely had confidence in ourselves and we knew our goalie Ashley (Hardner) is amazing and we could win it once we got to PKs.”

Hardner, who made nine saves during regulation and overtime, stopped two of Gilford’s three penalty-kick attempts.

Of course, to get to PKs, both teams had to battle through 80 minutes of regulation and two overtime periods full of back-and-forth play.

Though Gilford controlled the ball for much of the game, their head coach, Rob Meyers, credited Derryfield’s ability to score when presented with opportunities

“They had 3 fast breaks and they scored on all three of them,” he said. “It was pretty evenly played otherwise.”

“We tried to possess as much as we could, but (Gilford) played a pretty high line in the back, which Emma Losey was able to exploit because she’s such a quality finisher,” said Derryfield head coach Jim Watt.

Indeed, Losey delivered on all three opportunities and very nearly sent Gilford packing in regulation before setting the tone in penalties with her fourth tally of the day. Sophomore Mia Dudley and junior Christine Nadeau assisted on two of Losey’s goals.

Still, Gilford didn’t make life easy for the Cougars, coming back from a deficits of 2-0 in the first half and 3-1 in the second half to tie the game with 12 minutes remaining.

But that reality just gave the Cougars an opportunity to flex their resiliency, said Watt.

“We were angry when we let them back in, but I’m happy they rose and closed the game out the rest of the way,” he said.

Following the game, Losey beamed when discussing the team’s accomplishments to date.

“The history of Derryfield girls soccer hasn’t always been the best, so this win and advancing to the semifinals is huge for us,” said Losey. “We really have a family bond on this team and everyone is there for each other and just loving (the experience) … we’re all super excited for this win.”

Of course, next up is undefeated Hopkinton, which is aiming for its fourth-consecutive state championship.

“I think we have a little bit of a daunting game ahead of us, but I think if we play our best game, I think we have a chance, I really do,” said Richards.

“We can beat anybody with this team,” said Watt. “It’s a pleasure to coach these girls. You know, they’re never out of it. They’re very competitive, and they’re hungry, so it’s been a great season and I’m happy we’re seeing the results on the field.

Kickoff for the contest is 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at Manchester Memorial High School.

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ryanoconnor

Ryan O'Connor

As a longtime journalist in Southern New Hampshire, Ryan O'Connor has written for several local online and print publications covering everything from school board meetings and local high school sporting events to major crime stories and New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary (yes, the last two are mutually exclusive). In addition to spending time with his beautiful wife and four amazing children, Ryan enjoys attending and serving at church, golfing as much as possible, home brewing, playing softball and snowboarding when time allows.