Monday October 29, 2012

WESTMINSTER -- A group of young girls near the scoreboard were talking about overtime and penalty strokes. And all of the other spectators at "the Dog House" were probably thinking the same thing.

But Brittany Fortier had other ideas.

With 1:55 remaining in Saturday’s Division 3 quarterfinal field hockey game, Fortier scored on a penalty corner and No. 7 North Country held on to upset second-seeded Bellows Falls, 1-0.

The young girls near the scoreboard seemed stunned. All of the home team’s backers went silent.

"I told them during the timeout that whoever gets a goal is going to win," said Bellows Falls coach Bethany Coursen. "I think we dominated most of the game, but their goalie did a great job. We outshot them, but we need to score."

The Terriers had a 30-4 advantage in shots. The last of those came in the final seconds, when Kya Coursen crossed the ball in front to Sarah Wells.

But goalie Mariah Gonyaw would save her Falcons once again. She had been blocking point-blank shots and rebound opportunities all day, but also got some needed relief -- sweeper Mara Spales often cleared the ball out of danger and midfielder Brittany Verge made a habit of driving the ball out on restarts.

Bellows Falls put the heat on for the first three minutes of the contest, as Mariah Barnett, Wells and Coursen took turns attacking. But North Country’s defensive backfield of Brooklyn Santaw, Jessica Buckles, Stephanie Jones, Spales and Gonyaw were up to the challenge.


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And Fortier would make a run up the left side at times to take the pressure off of her defense.

Lauren Rowell unloaded for the hosts on a corner chance that was set up by Cassidy Santorelli’s feed and Coursen’s cross. Anna Clark and Wells each had an opportunity during a scramble in front just before the break.

Barnett tried to take over in the second half, but her four attempts in close were all denied. Emily Dufault made a habit of swiping the ball to keep it in the North Country zone, which had the visiting goalie repeating, "heads up, sticks down" or "hard hit out of here."

But Gonyaw knew it was coming. She had to stop a laser from Averie Lowe. She had to fend off threats from Santorelli. She somehow blocked a rebound attempt by Wells.

And as the clock wound down inside of five minutes, a young girl near the scoreboard let her friends know what might happen. "It will probably go to overtime and maybe Mariah (Barnett) will take a shot from that line."

But Fortier would soon silence her.

"It was a great season," noted the Bellows Falls coach, whose team went from 4-7-3 in 2011 to 11-2 this fall. "The girls did way better than expected. And we will only lose two players next year."

Shane Covey can be reached at scovey@reformer.com or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.