By: Ross Laorenza
Goffstown knocked off #2 seeded Milford to advance to the D-II championship game, 43-23. The Grizzlies saw a great night of shooting from junior Kathyrn Howe (#33). Howe connected on 5 of 9 from three-point land; her second straight game with five 3’s. Freshman Sarah Doherty (#3) ran the offense beautifully for the Grizz and gave Milford fits on the defensive side, grabbing 4 steals to go along with her 11 points and 5 assists. Rene Roggenbuck (#44) dominated the boards. She was credited with 10 rebounds, but it felt like at least 18 or 20.
“I can’t even take it in right now. The kids played phenomenal. We came out and played our game,” said Goffstown head coach Deanna Goodwin. “We definitely have a lot of shooters and a lot of different weapons. They were giving them to us and we were able to take it.”
Jubilation on one side of the court meant heartache on the other. This was Milford’s third straight Final Four appearance, but they have lost all three semi-final games.
“I think this game was far more emotional than I had anticipated for these girls,” said Milford head coach Richard Parent. “Having been here two other times, I don’t think I really appreciated how emotional it was going to be for them to comeback. To them, this has been sort of a hurdle. I thought we had the experience, I thought we would do much better because Goffstown hadn’t been in this environment and we had. But I think what happened was, we ran into a buzz saw tonight…”
Goffstown came out strong with Kathryn Howe drilling a three to start the scoring. Kaitlyn Matthews scored inside for Milford, but Sarah Doherty came right back down court, feeding the ball to Hannah Larochelle for a layup. Doherty took it herself the next time down, putting a nice move on Adelle Pitsas at the top of the key. After Amy Arena went 1 of 2 at the line for Milford, Doherty blew by another defender on her way to the hoop. 9-3 Goffstown.
With three minutes to play Kathryn Howe launched another three-pointer. Time out Milford. Out of the timeout both defenses held tough. Milford forced a jump ball, but could not convert on the possession change. Now with less than two minutes to go in the first, Howe for three…Good! At the end of the first quarter, Goffstown:15, Milford: 3.
Goffstown played a tight zone all night which really shut down Milford’s ability to penetrate with the dribble. The Spartans spent a majority of their offensive possessions in the 1st half trying to find a way to the weak side of the zone, but Goffstown had hands in all the passing lanes forcing seven first half turnovers.
Devany Pitsas opened the 2nd quarter with a steal. She fed the ball ahead to Jessica Ryan who found Kaitlyn Matthews open for a layup. Matthews would score again two minutes later as Milford tried to cut into the lead. They now trailed by 8 points, 15-7.
Rene Roggenbuck grabbed her first points of the contest, catching a feed inside from Larochelle and scoring over a defender. Siobhan Pelletier added to the Goffstown lead going 1 for 2 at the free throw line after a foul by Adelle Pitsas.
Pitsas would score 2 from the stripe with 2:46 remaining and her team down 12. The senior struggled to get a rhythm going offensively. Adelle was 0-8 from the field. Her only points came at the line where she was 4 for 4.
With time winding down in the first half Sarah Doherty hit her first three of the game. Jess Ryan answered with a three for Milford, but at the end of the 1st half Goffstown held a 21-14 lead.
The Grizzlies took over the game and any chance of a comeback for Milford by outscoring the Spartans 16-3 in the third quarter. They opened on a 10-1 run that really put some distance between the two teams. Hannah Larochelle opened the scoring with a jumper after two offensive rebounds from Kathryn Howe. Next, Howe hit from long range.It was her fourth three of the game. After a steal by Roggenbuck, Doherty pulled up for a jumper of her defender.
Roggenbuck scored 1 of 2 at the line after Kaitlyn Mattews picked up a foul inside. Two possessions later Sarah Doherty fed Roggenbuck with a nice bounce pass and Rene took it the rest of the way for a layup, capping the 10-1 run.
During the run Adelle Pitsas picked up her fourth personal on a reach-in, trying to steal the ball away from Doherty. Devany Pitsas came in to replace her sister. BredeGroot scored for the Spartans coming off the bench in the third. She also grabbed two rebounds in her 10 minutes played.
Back-to-back threes from Hannah Larochelle and Kathryn Howe finished the scoring in the 3rd. At the end of three, Goffstown: 37, Milford: 17.
A low scoring fourth quarter was not what Milford wanted trailing by 20, but their poor night shooting continued. The Spartans shot 13% for the game including 1 for 17 from three point range. Goffstown shot nearly 40% for the game including 7 of 14 from long range. The low scoring, methodical fourth quarter suited them just fine.
After a sloppy first two minutes for both teams, Sarah Doherty broke the scoring draught with a jumper. Milford scored 5 straight points on a layup by Matthews, 2 free throws from Adelle Pitsas and another free throw from Amy Arena. Arena looked to have two more points but Doherty drew the charge call underneath.
Molly McQueeney hit 4 free throws down the stretch for the Grizzlies as time melted off the clock. Final score: Goffstown: 43, Milford: 23.
Kathyrn Howe led all scorers with 15 points. She also had 6 rebounds. Sarah Doherty finished with 11 points, 5 assists and 7 rebounds. Rene Roggenbuck had 10 rebounds to go with her 5 points. Hannah Larochelle finished with 7 points, 3 assist and 4 rebounds. As a team Goffstown out-rebounded Milford 38-26.
Kaitlyn Matthews led the Spartans with 8 points and 6 rebounds in her final game for Milford. Fellow seniors Jess Ryan and Adelle Pitsas finished with 6 and 4 points respectively. After losing Erin McGuire and Rebecca Cleary during the season to injuries, it was a battle for Milford to get this far, but they fought every step of the way.
“If you had told us at the beginning of the year that we would lose both Erin and Becca and still make it to final four, I think everyone of us would have thought that wasn’t going to be possible,” said Coach Parent, “But we just didn’t know how deep we were. As the season went some of our girls stepped up, and we found girls who could play more than we thought. But, in the end it just wasn’t enough.”
Goffstown advances to play Coe-Brown in the championship game Saturday. “From day one, we’ve been talking about being in the championship game,” said Coach Goodwin, “We set that as a goal and I think they (the players) just saw this as another step.”
From SNHU, Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook