by Arlene Allin
WHITEFIELD - A thriller of a season opener between two of the perennial powers in Class MIS field hockey went into a sudden victory tiebreaker on Wednesday afternoon. An overtime goal by Jessalynn Haley lifted White Mountains Regional over Profile, 2-1, in the biting cold.
White Mountains took control in the new 7-on-7 regular season tiebreaker session. Niki Rambeck made one stellar stop after another for the Pats until the 9:01 mark of the 15-minute overtime.
Keira Russell labored to bring the ball into the striking circle, just as Kris Odell had fought to keep the ball on the Spartans end. Alison Welch fired and Rambeck made the save, only to have Haley pick it up about 10 yards out, position it and power the game-winner into the backboards.
quot;Jessalynn moved to the midfield from the front line and that's a better spot for her,quot; said WMR coach Jeannine Labounty. quot;I'm glad we played this well today. We've had only one practice with everybody here. We're in a lot better shape this year and that showed in the overtime. Last year, we were dragging by the second half of our first game.quot;
For the first 15 minutes, the Spartans had the Patriots pinned on the fringes of the striking circle, with Katie Glidden forcing Ashlea Brown to make a save early. Christy Thornton - the go-anywhere, do-anything Patriot captain - made another save and Coach Jeff Soule called for a timeout to talk. The Pats began to battle back, and though Meghan DeCourcey didn't make a stop for the Spartans in the first half, Ellen Brady did.
The two rivals were 30 seconds from a scoreless first half, but in that half minute, the Spartans took the lead. Haley sent a corner in to Carly Crawford and she crossed it. Though Thornton got a stick on it, Glidden picked it up and knocked it back inside the cage.
quot;Katie was very nervous she's a freshman - but after she scored, she started to play like I knew she could,quot; said Labounty. quot;She just rapped that one. Then we kept the same pace and they picked up. Once they scored, then we stepped up again.quot;
Profile came back from break full of fire. After a few minutes had passed, DeCourcey sent two kick saves out in succession and breathed a sigh of relief when a Patriot cross went untouched along the length of the goal line. Before 8 1/2 minutes were gone in the second half, Profile had evened the score.
The goal came from Hallory Mogren and the assist from Meghan Sherburn and it required a few minutes of conference between the two officials. The goal stood and the score was deadlocked at one each.
This time, the Spartans took timeout to talk and they came back with a fury of their own. The Spartans strafed the side of the cage. Rambeck survived one scare on a whistle as the ball rolled around her feet in front of the cage.
White Mountains continued its attack into the extra session and Haley made it pay off. The opening game win belonged to the Spartans.
quot;All in all, we got it going. This is one of the strongest teams we play on our schedule and to take it to overtime. Niki made some big saves in the tiebreaker,quot; said Profile coach Jeff Soule. quot;Christine Sveda, a freshman, played the whole 60 minutes on defense. Some people stepped up. I would have liked a win to start, but it was a good game. We're young and we grew up a lot today.quot;
The rematch will be on Sept. 16 in Bethlehem.
White Mountains will host Berlin on Friday and Profile will be at Newfound on Monday.
Lisbon 0, Gorham 0, OT
GORHAM, N.H. - Lisbon and Gorham battled through 45 minutes of field hockey, but came away in a scoreless deadlock.
Even during the 15-minute overtime playing 7-on-7, neither team was able to penetrate the other's defense.
quot;We had 23 shots on goal,quot; said Panthers coach Heather Evans. quot;We dominated play; we just couldn't put the ball in the cage. The girls' passing and communication have come a long ways since we started practice.quot;
Siobhan Scofield had seven saves for Lisbon.
The Panthers will be looking for their first win on Friday, when they play at LI at 4:30 p.m.
Woodsville 4, Winnisquam 0
WOODSVILLE - Woodsville's Wade Lane tallied two goals and picked up an assist, to lead the Engineers over Winnisquam, 4-0.
Freshman Jacob Holden tallied the winning goal with 6:18 gone in the first half. On a corner kick, Ryan Ackerman got the ball over to Lane, who headed it over to Holden, allowing him to head it into the net.
Lane got his first goal at 9:14 and followed that up with a goal at 30:32. The first goal was unassisted, with Ackerman assisting on the second. Ackerman chipped the ball over the defense on an indirect kick, which Lane chested down to his feet and into the net.
Ackerman, who tallied the third goal of the game, might have scored the prettiest when he took a crossing pass from Chris Guy in the middle of the goal area and used a bicycle kick to score.
quot;We played a strong first half, but didn't stay focused in the second half,quot; said WHS coach Mike Ackerman. quot;We just cruised to victory. Hopefully, we will be able to maintain our focus in future games. Tim Lamarre at sweeper played a real strong game.quot;
Paul Hodgdon, who was called on to make only three saves in recording the shutout, had one outstanding one near the end of the game, as he had to extend his full body to knock a shot out of the net.
Woodsville (1-0) plays at Littleton on Friday at 3:30 p.m.
Littleton 10, Pittsburg 2
COLEBROOK - Joe Bisson and Matt Simon accounted for five goals as Littleton crushed Pittsburg, 10-2.
The Crusaders' Ben Spaulding tallied the first goal of the game at the 10 minute mark of the first half, which opened up the flood gates. After Spaulding's goal, Littleton netted four more in the first stanza. Mark Driscoll, D.B. Stafford, Bisson and Simon all found the net.
In the first 10 minutes of the second stanza, Simon scored once and Bisson twice.
The Panthers' Kevin Haley then tallied two goals - one on a penalty kick ~and the other on an indirect kick - to prevent the shutout.
Crystal Blaisdell and Nathan Brodien finished off the scoring for Littleton.
Duncan Ross and Kevin Boswell manned the nets for the Crusaders, stopping six shots. Jimmy O'Brien had 28 saves for Pittsburg.
Littleton (1-0) hosts Woodsville on Friday at 4 p.m.