BEDFORD — Anyone who believes that a good defense beats a good offense, no matter what the sport, would have gotten pleasure from Sunday’s Division 1 field hockey title game at Bedford High School.
Especially if you were a member or fan of Winnacunnet.
The perennial-power Warriors, who have won five titles in the last nine years, shut down No. 1 seed Windham, winning 2-0, to claim their first state crown since 2015.
“Their goalie (Nikki Tredwell) is phenomenal and their No. 23 (Grace Michael) had a heck of a game on defense,” said Windham coach Katie Blair, whose club finished a terrific season with a 15-2 record. “Their defense did a nice job, you have to give them credit.”
In the beginning of the game, Winnacunnet’s defense was not so apparent. The Jaguars dominated play for the first 10 minutes and had two penalty corners to none for the Warriors. But on what seemed like Winnacunnet’s first thrust downfield, it scored at the 19:09 mark on a hard shot by Lauren Alkire.
That seemed to energize the Warriors. They began to carry the play much more and made it 2-0 six minutes later when Miera Serna Pujol scored off of a penalty corner, on an assist from Alkire.
“We started quick but I thought we missed a couple of opportunities and then they got the momentum,” said Blair.
Windham had defeated Winnacunnet earlier in the season, 1-0, on a goal by state scoring leader Kate Blaisdell (26 goals last year, 28 this year). Winnacunnet coach Heidi Hand was determined that Blaisdell would be held in check when it counted most.
“Pretty much our game plan was to apply pressure on No. 22 (Blaisdell),” said Hand. “We’ve seen what she can do so we wanted to take her out of her game.”
That took a team effort, but Winnacunnet senior Jenna Fiore was given the task to shadow Blaisdell everywhere and be a nuisance. That seemed to work because while Blaisdell did get off a few shots, none were high percentage and she had trouble getting close to the net.
“It was well played on their part,” said Blaisdell. “They had one person on me all the time. ... It was very frustrating.”
Despite that, Windham came out in the second half and controlled play as much as possible. It had four penalty corners to just one for Winnacunnet. Tredwell was forced to make seven saves over the last 30 minutes.
But the Warriors’ defense was up to the task and kept most of the shots at a distance.
Still, Blair was pleased with the overall effort and definitely happy with the way that Jaguars transitioned into Division 1.
And, with eight starters back next year — with Blaisdell leading the way along with key players like Livi Manchester, Ames Lanouette and goalie Kayla Antouncci — it wasn’t too soon to look ahead.
“We’re coming back here next year and we’ll be ready,” promised Blair. “We’ll light a fire under them.”
Winnacunnet 2, Windham 0
Division 1 title game
Goals: Lauren Alkire, Miera Serna Pujol
Saves: Winnacunnet — Nikki Tredwell 8; Windham — Kayla Antouncci 4
Windham (15-2): 0 0 — 0
Winnacunnet (14-3): 2 0 — 2