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Div. II Field Hockey Tournament: Defending champ Windham advances

Special to the Union Leader

October 21. 2017 1:35AM

WINDHAM — Last year, Plymouth’s football team traveled south and upset unbeaten Windham in the semifinals en route to a state title. Friday, the schools met again, this time in the Division II field hockey quarterfinals, but there was no upset.

The second-seeded Jaguars, the defending champs, used a two-goal second half to put away seventh-seeded Plymouth 2-0 to advance to the state semifinals Tuesday night in Exeter, where they will take on sixth-seeded Kennett of Conway.

“They had a spark in the second half,” said Windham coach Katie Blair, whose team improved to 13-1-1. “We talked at halftime and said it was 0-0 again. Come out, it’s a fresh game. We re-hit all of our key points and they did it.”

An even first half gave way to a second half dominated by Windham. The Jaguars pressed in waves from the opening whistle of the second half and it finally paid dividends nine minutes in. Sophomore forward Kivi Manchester found some space and fired home a goal from eight yards out.

Plymouth pressed hard after falling behind but the Bobcats couldn’t muster many quality chances. A big reason of that was senior midfielder Lex Slaski wreaked havoc at both ends of the field for the Jaguars. The converted forward defended and pushed the ball forward in transition from seemingly everywhere on the field in the second half.

“Our passing is a big thing for us,” Slaski said. “Sometimes we just try to dribble around people, but I think that the more we pass and use all of our players to our advantage then we play so much better.”

The Jaguars put a bow on the win when freshman forward Kate Blaisdell scored with just over two minutes left.

“We have this phrase, ‘If you make a varsity roster, you’re a varsity player,’” Blair said. “They don’t care what class you are. You’re a varsity athlete and expected to play like such. We’re lucky to have underclassmen that do play like such. We’re led by a great class of seniors and they set the pace for the underclassmen.”

Plymouth (8-6-1) threatened, especially in the first half, but the Jaguar defense collapsed smartly when it had to and jammed the middle of the field.

Senior keeper Abby Harris made two saves for Windham.

“Plymouth is well coached,” Blair said. “Ashley (Laufenberg) runs a great program. They fought hard. My goalkeeper was phenomenal. My defense is awesome. I can’t thank them enough for all that they do. They have no quit.”

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