Timberlane Owls Field Hockey '07

Sun, Oct 28, 2007 02:30 PM @ Neutral Location
Team Final
Playoff Game
Salem 4
Timberlane 0
Carolyn Malloy, center, scored twice for the Salem, N.H., Blue Devils Sunday as Salem shut out the Timberlane Owls 4-0 to win the New Hampshire state field hockey finals on Oct. 28. » Jan Seeger, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Salem tears through tournament for sixth title in seven years

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Monday, October, 29 By Ryan Lambert
Staff writer

The word "dynasty" is used all too frequently these days. But the Salem field hockey is as close to one as any team that has had the word heaped upon it in recent years. The Blue Devils bore that out yesterday, cruising to a 4-0 win over Timberlane in the Class L championship, and clinching their third state title in a row and sixth in the last seven years.

As though there was ever any doubt they would.

Salem won all but one game this season (a 2-2 tie against the same Owls team). It then ripped through the competition in the tournament, winning by a combined score of 14-0 in three games.

It outscored its opponents 59-7 in the regular season on the way to a 13-0-1 record. The only game the Blue Devils allowed more than one goal was the Timberlane tie.

"I think peaking at the right time is important, and we did that," said Salem coach Carol Merchant. "We got the momentum in the quarterfinal against Londonderry (a 6-0 win) and never looked back. We've been healthy, the team dynamics were excellent, and I just couldn't have asked for it to turn out better than it did. We only allowed two shots on goal (today), so that says a lot."

What says even more is Salem's record over the past 10 years. Since 1997, the Blue Devils have gone 164-17-5 and have advanced to the Class L finals every season except 2000, when they fell in the quarterfinals.

But, if this were any other decade, Timberlane probably would have been the runaway champion. The Owls simply ran into a buzzsaw.

Timberlane's season was almost as dominant as Salem's. The Owls, too, went 13-0-1, and outscored their opponents 57-10. They, likewise, ran through the playoff competition prior to the championship game, winning two games by a combined 9-1.

"We didn't play like we did the first time we played them," said Owls coach Mim Ryan. "It was two totally different games. (We were beaten by) their speed. They have good stick skills, and they can finish in the circle. They take advantage of what they're given. We didn't do that today."

The reason for the Blue Devil dominance seemed simple enough to Carolyn Malloy, who scored twice yesterday.

"Most of us have been playing together since sixth grade, and we should be playing well together after this long," she said with matter-of-fact simplicity. "It's definitely an advantage. I think the coaching is awesome too and we all just mold together really well on the field."

Though Salem graduates nine of its 11 starters in the championship game, it seems like little can slow down the program that keeps entrenching itself further as the best in the state.

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