Lady Lancer Stickers Win Twice in Tourney, Will Play PA

Strong defensive play, determination, and the ability to tally one clutch goal have been the keys to success for the Londonderry High School field hockey squad over the last several weeks.

The Lady Lancers are in the midst of a six-game undefeated streak – with five wins and one tie – and their two most recent victories came in Division I tournament contests against Salem and Timberlane.

The seventh-seeded LHS crew now faces a  semifinal-round tournament match with a third-ranked Pinkerton Academy contingent that it has already bested once this fall. That contest will be played Thursday, Oct. 29, at 5 p.m. at Exeter High School.

The Lady Lancers, who finished the regular season with a 7-5-2 record in snaring the seventh seed for the D-I tournament, began their involvement in the tourney by hosting number 10 Salem in a first-round contest at LHS Thursday, Oct. 22.

The Lady Blue Devils had the only three shots that were put on a net in the first half, but LHS standout goalie Rachel Simkevich turned all of those Salem blasts aside and the score sat at 0-0 at halftime.

The Lady Lancers were granted the game’s first penalty corner 3:10 into the second half and put their first shot on the Salem cage 30 seconds later, but didn’t score.

But the hosts netted the only goal that they’d need to collect a 1-0 win with 6:11 left in regulation time when several Salem defenders fumbled about with the ball in their own crease before it wound up on Alli Whitehead’s stick and she scored. Hailey Gilbert was credited with the assist, and keeper Simkevich finished up with those three saves.

Then it was on to a quarterfinal-round contest against a second-seeded Timberlane team – in Plaistow on Sunday – which the Lady Lancers were expected to lose. But they didn’t.

The Lady Owls tallied a 12-1-1 regular season record, drew a bye in the first round of the tournament, and had a nine-game undefeated streak rolling (8-0-1) going into the tourney match with Londonderry. And what’s more, the Timberlane troop bested LHS by a 4-0 count when they met up early in the regular season.

It took double-overtime, but Katie Meuse’s goal with 12:16 left in the second OT handed the locals the unlikely 1-0 win over the highly-favored opponent.

The host Lady Owls pelted 13 shots on LHS keeper Simkevich, who turned them all aside. Her Londonderry teammates managed only three shots on Timberlane goalie Juliana Mancinelli, with the third of them deciding the contest on Meuse’s successful attempt.

“I’m so happy for the girls,” said LHS coach Laura Federico. “Going in as the underdogs, I knew it was going to be a challenge. We were focused from warm-ups and played with intensity and heart from the first whistle. We were a very different team than the first time we played them, and I don’t think they expected it.”

Pinkerton – which is used to making it deep in to the tourney every fall –  is next in line for LHS.

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