Last week, LHS girls’ soccer coach Derek Dane and his charges faced a final week of the Division I regular season that featured both distinct negatives and positives for them.
Dane and his Lady Lancers were looking for possible upward mobility and a strong finish in their congested division by claiming good outcomes from three games – rather than the usual weekly tally of two matches – during that span. But among the good news was the fact that the LHS crew was due to play three opponents – Dover, Timberlane, and Nashua South – who were all encumbered with season records well under the .500 mark, making Londonderry the clear favorite in all three contests.
As everything would turn out, Dane’s crew shut out all three opponents and snared a 2-0-1 record for the week to end the regular season with a strong, 11-2-3 record.
“I was initially concerned about the last week of the season because we had three games in the week,” said the coach. “That worsened when we got rained out and had to play two games in 24 hours. But we got through the week with two wins and a draw, so all in all it’s not a bad week.”
After handing the woeful Dover High Green Wave (2-13-1 record) a 2-0 blanking on the seacoast Monday, Oct. 20, the Lady Lancers pulled off the same feat against a Timberlane Lady Owls’ squad from Plaistow that came into the Friday, Oct. 24, contest at LHS with a 3-11-1 record.
The hosts received a first-half goal from Haley Laliberte (assist to Emily Crocetti) and a second-half tally from Erin Barnes (assist to Laurel Goding) in sending the Lady Owls home lamenting a season-closing loss.
Londonderry pelted 14 shots on the Timberlane net, and LHS standout goalie Jackie Luckhardt turned aside 10 shots in helping her side to its 11th shutout of the 2014 campaign.
Luckhardt and the Lady Lancers bagged another shutout – number 12 of the campaign – in their regular season-ending match at home against the 4-9-2 Nashua South contingent Saturday, Oct. 25. That was the good news. The bad news was that Dane’s dames weren’t able to get one of their own 13 shots past South keeper Adaeze Obinelo in a scoreless tie. LHS goalie Luckhardt also managed 13 stops.
“In our 16 games, we allowed six goals and had 12 shutouts. Not too shabby,” said Dane.
Although having to settle for a 0-0 deadlock in its last regular season match wasn’t ideal from the Londonderry standpoint, Dane still found plenty of reasons to be proud of his crew as it waited over the remainder of the weekend to find out what the tournament pairings from the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) looked like.
“I believe that we have done enough to finish in the number four spot and earn our first playoff bye in five years,” he said. “That’s a fantastic achievement for a group that contains 12 sophomores or freshmen and 12 players who had not played a girls’ high school varsity soccer game prior to this season.”
On Monday Dane and his girls had it confirmed by the NHIAA that they had notched the bye and fourth place in D-I, and they had to await the outcome of the preliminary-round game between number five Pinkerton and number 12 Keene on Thursday, Oct. 30, to see whom they’d play on their home field in quarterfinal-round play on Sunday, Nov. 2, at 2 p.m.