GILFORD – The Gilford High School girls' field hockey team finished the quarter-final playoff game on Saturday afternoon with a satisfying shut-out against Winnisquam High School. The final score of the game was 3-0 Gilford.
As the ball started rolling the Gilford and Winnisquam girls immediately sprang into action, aggressively trying to get possession. Taking off down the field, Winnisquam attacked the ball first, directing it down toward Gilford's goal. This fiery start by Winnisquam caught the attention of Gilford, and they worked efficiently to prevent any further advances and gained possession of the ball. With a window of opportunity approaching, Gilford drove the ball into Winnisquam's zone, getting ready for the strike into the goal. Moving in closer to the goal, Winnisquam player came out at the Gilford girl in possession of the ball in a deliberate and physical matter. In response to this violation of conduct, a penalty shot was awarded to senior, Kelsey Buckley. As she approached the goal and got into position, the crowd watched anxiously as she made the drive. The successful drive shot past the goalie and into the goal, putting the first score on the board for Gilford.
With a one point lead, the Winnisquam team attempted to even the score. Their attempts to put pressure on the Gilford were short lived however, as Gilford again claimed possession of the ball, hurtling it toward Winnisquam's end. Closing in on the goal, Gilford accurately directed the ball toward an unprotected section of the net. The sound of the ball hitting the goal was answered with screams and cheers from the Gilford team as well as their fans.
At the sound of the whistle to begin the second half Winnisquam was first to claim possession over the ball. The advance was thwarted by Gilford, who turned the ball around and sent it back toward Winnisquam's zone. The ball moved back and forth between the two opposing teams, failing to make any complete advances into one zone or another. Eventually, Winnisquam gained a break away, and moved in on the Gilford team. With their 2 point lead threatened Gilford went on high alert and managed to halt the advance. Gilford counter-struck, darting down the field for a third goal.
With pressure mounting with every tick of the clock, Winnisquam claimed possession of the ball and advanced toward Gilford's goal. Although the advance seemed promising, the ball was intercepted by Gilford, hurtling the ball back toward Winnisquam's zone. Fearing another goal, Winnisquam aggressively took possession and maneuvered the ball down the field. The Gilford squad came together as a fluid unit to gain possession of the ball once more, bringing it down toward the Winnisquam goal. Although the Gilford girls were putting pressure on the Winnisquam team, their final attempts to make the score 4-0 were unsuccessful. As the whistle sounded to end the game, the Gilford girls left the field exuberant in celebration of their advance to the semi-finals.
In response to the win, senior Kayla Orton of Gilford said, "It's such an unbelievable feeling winning today. We made it to the quarter finals last year but lost 3-2, so we were determined to come back this year and play our best so we could move on to the next round this time. It's also really important that we did well today because there are nine seniors on the team this year, and we have all been playing these past four years, so a win was pretty important to us."
Beaming and congratulating the team, coach David Rogacki had a few words to share about the success of the team this year. "People can't understand that good students can be good athletes, but they can. This team is made up of almost all honor students who are dedicated to both their team and their academics. These girls have been disrespected a lot this year by outside parties so they had a lot to prove entering this season. I am so proud of the game they played today and for the season we have had overall, they have definitely come from the bottom and risen to the top."
Gilford's semi-final game will be held on Wednesday, October 30 at Exeter High School at 5 p.m. The Eagles will face the third-seeded Berlin team, which defeated Littleton by the score of 4-0.