CONWAY — There will be no fifth trip to the Final Four in a row for the Kennett High field hockey team. The No. 3 seeded Eagles were eliminated from the Division II playoffs in the quarterfinals by No. 6 Merrimack Valley 1-0 at Centola Field on a raw, wet Monday afternoon.
The match had been pushed back due to torrential rain on Sunday.
Coach Cassie Daley’s troops created the better of the chances for the most of the contest, but the Pride got the match-winner with 16:10 to play. Kennett goalie Hannah Frittenberg made an initial save of a shot, but the rebound was rifled into the left side of the cage.
The Eagles beat MV 5-0 at home on Sept. 12 in the lone regular-season meeting, holding the girls from Penacook without a shot, but there may have been no hotter team heading into the playoffs than MV, which closed the second half of its season in style by putting together a seven-game win streak where it outscored its opponents 23-9.
MV beat Kingswood in the opening round of the playoffs.
Kennett was without the services of junior midfielders Tatum Brett and Maddie Stewart, who were sidelined due to injury. Still, the Eagles displayed enough offense to get the job done, but junior goalie Rosemary Ostrowski came up big in the net when her teammates needed her the most. She made nine saves on the afternoon.
The play was fairly even in the first half with defense taking center stage. KHS came close with 16:50 to play in the half when Josie Phaneuf’s shot went just wide of the right post.
With 13:23 left in the opening session, Frittenberg stymied the Pride with a fine kick save.
Four minutes later, the talented senior made a nice stop from close range.
The teams went to halftime scoreless.
“We’re not playing bad at all,” Daley told her flock. “(MV) is just hustling for everything.”
The opening 10 minutes of the second stanza belonged to Kennett. The Eagles created four quality changes and earned three penalty corners over that stretch.
With 26:37 left in the contest, junior Kathryn Hawkes got the ball in the 10 yards from goal turned and uncooked a rock, but Ostrowski was equal to the task with the pad save.
With 23:58 to play, Jaelin Cummings came close with a shot of her own.
Fifteen seconds later, Natalie Shaw nearly found pay dirt, but her blast, which had Ostrowski beaten, went wide to the right by inches.
A minute later, with continued pressure on the MV goal, the Eagles got a shot off that Ostrowski managed to get a leg on to keep out of the goal.
MV took a timeout with 20:41 to play to try to halt the KHS momentum.
The Pride mounted a scoring threat minutes later and got the lone goal.
Kennett had four penalty corners in the final 12 minutes, but was unable to get a shot off as MV to its credit played well defensively.
The Eagles gave it all they had but came up.
Kennett loses seniors Eva Drummond, Natalie Shaw, Faith Downing, Josie Phaneuf, Glennys Chambers, C.J. MacDonald and goalie Hannah Frittenberg to graduation.
“This a special great group,” Daley said. “They’ve definitely had an impact on the program.”
She added: “The really great thing for me as a coach is seeing that Eva, Josie, Natalie and Hannah all want to continue playing in college.”
MV advances to the Final Four where it will play either No. 2 Hanover or No. 7 Goffstown at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter at 5 p.m. on Thursday, weather-permitting.