GILFORD — It was a good day for Gilford High School sports Saturday as the Golden Eagles won a pair of state titles, with the boys soccer team edging Hillsboro-Deering 1-0 in double overtime and the girls volleyball team capping an undefeated season with a five-set win over Somersworth.
For the soccer team, it was the first Division III state title since 2010 and the 15th for head coach Dave Pinkham, whose teams have been in 24 state championship games since he started coaching at Gilford in 1977.
For the volleyball team, which finished with a 20-0 mark, it was the 15th Division II state title in the last 21 years under coach Joan Forge, who, like Pinkham, is a 1977 graduate of Plymouth State University and a member of PSU's Athletic Hall of Fame. She has been coaching at Gilford since 1984.
Forge said it was the first time that Gilford has ever had to go five sets to win a championship game and credited a core group of seniors, including Captain Jordan Dean, Maddie Harris and Brooke Beaudet with providing the focus and determination Gilford needed to win.
''We came really close last year and the team put in a lot of offseason training to prepare for this season,'' said Forge.
She said it was good battle against Somersworth and the team proved its true mettle after the Hilltoppers tied the match at two sets apiece.
''We had to play a lot of defense, but we were perfect in serving, going 115 for 115 in five games,'' said Forge, whose team won the fifth set 15-8 as Maddie Currier served up six straight points.
Gilford volleyball won nine straight state championships from 1999 to 2007.
Pinkham, whose team finished with a 15-4-1 record, said that this year's team was young with at least five sophomores starting in every game.
''If you had told me at the start of the season that we would be playing in the championship game, it would have been hard to believe,'' said Pinkham, who said that the turning point for his team came in a late-season game with Newfound Regional High School.
''We were tied at the half and hadn't played that well. But, at the half, we had a heart-to-heart talk and played really strong from that point on through the rest of the season. For the last seven-and-a-half games we played, including four in the playoffs, we allowed only one goal the rest of the way.''
The winning goal Saturday came 96 minutes into the game when Sander Volpey hit from three yards out to beat Hillsboro-Deering goalie Thomas Ferguson.
Goalie Ethan Warren made six stops for the Golden Eagles, who held Hillsboro-Deering to just two shots on goal in the second half and none during overtime.
''I've always felt you win it with your defense,'' said Pinkham, who said that watching the younger players mature and gain confidence over the course of the season made this one of the most satisfying state championships he has ever experienced.
In the 1990s, the Golden Eagles went nine years without losing a game and set many national records including most consecutive championships, 10, most consecutive games without a loss, 133, and fewest goals allowed in a season, two.
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 741