MERIDEN — Stevens advanced to the semi-final round of the D-3 tournament, but it wasn’t easy. The Cardinals home game was moved to Kimball Union Academy on Saturday morning because of the unplayable field in the city and the Cardinals didn’t like the large turf at all. The super fast turf was no friend to Stevens as they struggled playing a different type of game as Raymond came with an upset on their minds. The Rams set the tone early with Kathryn LaCassee and company using an uptempo game that spread their troops wide on the field testing the Stevens defense. “ My job was to mark up LaCasse today and there was just no way she was going to beat us and I wasn’t going to let her get away from me” said Stevens senior Alexis Aiken.
Raymond had the advantage in possession early but the Cardinals began to get their turf legs as a Tanner Brown’s shot whistled wide. Fionah Carbee made a run off her line to knock away a LaCasse rush as they collided hard as neither team had and real solid scoring threats as many shots weren’t on target at the game.
As Stevens struggled with the turf and injuries mounting, Aiken, Zahna Rice and Jenna Bonneau were doing a good job of keeping the Rams on the outside thirds of the field from their defensive positions but the Cardinals were having a hard time finding some offense. Brown went down after a hard hit and Stella Lavertue had to be helped off the field as Hannah Miller and Molly Desrorier were now the tip of the scoring attack. H. Miller had a good strike on the ball but it was just wide as was Sydney Miller’s direct kick couldn’t put a score on the board as regulation time ended sending the game into a golden goal period.
Before the overtime period began, the Raymond coach was telling his team to battle, battle, battle while Belaire told his Stevens team that” This is your time, go and take it”.
Raymond came right out and after Carbee made 2 big saves, the Rams clanked one off the goalies best friend that would have ended the game.
“My heart skipped a beat when that ball hit the post” said Belaire after the game as the first overtime ended how it began, 0-0.
Raymond began the second overtime period just like the first with pressure in the Cardinals side of the field but an Aiken clear put the ball in the midfield area where Ellee Grenier looked toward the spectator filled sideline. Lavertue make a great flick into the middle of the field where Brown and S. Miller had positioned themselves. “ Coach Friesen told me to grab a spot on the near post so that’s just where I went” said S. Miller. With Brown nearby, the Raymond defense couldn’t mark both Cardinals and S. Miller ended up with the ball and ended the game with a nifty left footed shot that found the back of the net to send the Cardinals into the semi-finals on Monday with a thrilling 1-0 win. “ It was such a quick bang bang play, the keeper didn’t have a chance on the goal, I just listened to my coach and found a soft spot and made a clean hit” said S. Miller after the game.
#2 Stevens is set to face #6 Hopkinton at 4pm on Monday while #1 Bishop Brady will tangle with #5 St. Thomas Aquinas at 6:15 with the winners playing for the D-3 championship on Sunday at 2pm. All games are played at Bank of NH field in Laconia.