As the 2017-18 school year winds down, so do the spring sports seasons of teams across New Hampshire. With playoffs on the horizon for three Oyster River teams, each one is preparing to embrace the challenge of win-or-go-home competition.
After winning just two of their first six games, the six-seeded girls’ lacrosse squad finished the season dropping just one of their last eight, and outscored their opponents 102-38 during that run. Attacker Allison Marshall (‘19) credits her team’s success to their cohesion. “I would say our biggest strengths are that we all get along and are very close,” said Marshall, “we have good communications in both the offensive and defensive zones.”
Although the team is confident going into their matchup with third-seeded John Stark after winning five in a row, Marshall knows that they’ll need to improve on their execution in close games. “Our performance so far this season has been very good. However, we lost all the close games that we should have won,” she said, referring to the team’s two one-goal losses, one of which came at the hands of John Stark.
The team will rely on their streaky attack, led by Marshall and Julia Ravenelle (‘18), that has scored double-digit goals in eight of their fourteen games this year on their way to a 9-5 record. “Our goals are to come out strong and take one game at a time,” said Marshall on her outlook for the upcoming playoffs, “if we work together and play the way we can we should be able to do very well.”
The girls’ quarterfinal matchup at John Stark in Weare is scheduled for this Wednesday at 5pm.
After beginning their season under first-year head coach Ruppy Hainey, the boys’ lacrosse team rallied off a six game win streak and won seven of their last eight, and squeezed into the playoffs as the last of twelve teams. The playoff berth alone is an accomplishment the team is proud of, as they’re still in the process of regrowing the program after failing to make the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
“For the years before this year we haven’t had a team that has really cared and this year that sort of started to change,” explained Nick Ackerman (‘18), the team’s top scorer. “The people who were there really wanted to be there and I think that has made the difference for us being able to get to the playoffs for the first time in three years.”
After a series of difficult seasons for the team that was marred by both poor results and a number of players quitting, the boys’ six win season is a step in the right direction for the program as a whole. “This year was more of a rebuilding process then anything due to the last few years of poor performance,” said captain and midfielder Max Litchfield (‘18). “Our main goal this season was to rebuild the atmosphere and have the whole team buy into the program.”
Litchfield and Ackerman both believe that the team’s resilient mentality has been a key to overcoming their tough start. “ Our strength is our integrity,” said Litchfield, who is committed to DIII LaSell College in Newton, MA. “No matter how big of a hole we dig ourselves we always seem to claw our way out with sheer determination.”
The team’s five game win streak down the stretch was highlighted by a number of offensive outbursts, as they did not fail to score more than nine goals in a single game during the run. “I think things that we have to maintain going into the playoffs is our ability to score goals,” said Ackerman, a hundred point club member who will be playing against Litchfield at Rivier University in Nashua, NH next season.“We have to continue to take care of the ball and move it like we have been and just be able to execute like we have been for the second half of the season.”
The Bobcats will travel to take on Windham in their preliminary matchup on Wednesday at 4:30.
Coming off of a winless season, the rebuilt softball team managed to clinch a playoff berth this season with a 6-10 record. The team limps into the playoffs after winning just one of their final ten games following an impressive 5-2 start to the season behind pitcher Carissa Miller (‘21).
Despite the rough stretch to finish the season, captain Kendall Bird is proud of her team’s effort thus far. “I think our performance this year was pretty good,” said Bird. “Our team is incredibly young and I’ve been very impressed this season with how things have gone.”
Bird, a DH , is one of just four upperclassmen in the program, whose large turnout of underclassmen players was enough to let them field a JV team for the first time ever this season. Despite this large range of ages across the squad, Bird notes that the players work together seamlessly. “Our biggest strengths are probably our chemistry,” said Bird. “I also think that our outfield has been really solid all season long. We’re also doing well catching and when we hit we hit well so that’s also been good.”
The team will face off against a dominant third-seeded Pembroke squad that has only lost two games all season, but they continue to keep a confident mindset going into the matchup. “Our only goal is to win,” noted Bird. “We just have to work on the little things. If we just get a little bit better in a few areas then we can really be great.”
The preliminary round matchup at Pembroke is slated to be played at 4 on Wednesday.