MANCHESTER – Heading into the Division-III semifinals, Derryfield coaches and players knew they had a monumental task before them. To reach the state title game, they first had to get through three-time defending champion Hopkinton, which carried an undefeated record and had outscored opponents 100-9 during the regular season.
Though the Cougars did, indeed, succumb to the Hawks’ relentless attack Wednesday evening at Manchester Memorial High School, they were able to walk off the field with their heads held high, never giving up despite a five-goal deficit and scoring two late goals – from Emma and Lilly Losey – to close out the game, 5-2.
“It was a great game today, played with terrific spirit from both sides,” said Derryfield head coach Jim Watt. “There was wonderful technical play demonstrated from both sides.”
Goalie Ashley Hardner made 11 saves in the losing effort.
Though the fifth-seeded Cougars fell short of their championship aspirations, the season was certainly a success by most any measure. After finishing the regular season with a 10-3-2 record, Derryfield – led by captains Emma Losey, Eryn Richards and Jen Sheppard – opened the playoffs with a 4-0 shutout of 12th-ranked Campbell on Oct. 27 and then traveled to No. 4 Gilford and upset the Golden Eagles 4-3 (4-1 in penalty kicks) on Monday to setup the semifinal clash with Hopkinton.
Losey finished her high school career with 104 points despite a significant injury during her junior season.
“She blew out her knee last year and really found a rhythm in the second half,” said Watt.
Richards, who scored the game-winner during the deciding penalty-kick shootout in the quarterfinals at Gilford, also provided strong defense and leadership on the back line throughout the season, while Sheppard was the teams “spiritual leader” who was a constant spark off the bench, said Watt.
Senior Casey Benson also graduates having provided the team with firepower from the wing all season, added Watt.
Though those departures will undoubtedly sting, Watt said the future is looking bright for his squad following this year’s deep playoff run.
“Derryfield is a young up-and-coming team returning nine starters next year,” he said. “It’s early, but I like the experience everyone gained this year.”