Scrappy, young Portsmouth team falls in D-2 lacrosse finals

Coach proud of girls, who never quit despite being down 8 goals at one point

By Jim McGaw
Posted 6/21/21

PORTSMOUTH — Coach Amelia McHugh said her lacrosse players can hold their heads up high despite losing to North Kingstown, 14-9, in the Division II girls lacrosse championship game on …

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Scrappy, young Portsmouth team falls in D-2 lacrosse finals

Coach proud of girls, who never quit despite being down 8 goals at one point

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Coach Amelia McHugh said her lacrosse players can hold their heads up high despite losing to North Kingstown, 14-9, in the Division II girls lacrosse championship game on Sunday in Cumberland.

For a while, it looked like it was going to be a repeat of the teams’ regular season matchup, when the Skippers soundly beat the Patriots by a score of 16-5. 

After trading goals back and forth to make it 2-2 about 10 minutes into the game, North Kingstown went on an 8-0 run and led 10-2 with just over two minutes left in the first half.

And that’s when the Patriots showed some fight. First, freshman Nora Cooney, on an assist by Kaitlin Roche, put one past the Skippers’ goaltender. Then, just let 17 seconds later, sophomore Elizabeth Skeels controlled the face-off and ran a sweep down the left sideline to score. Suddenly it was a 10-4 game at the half and the Portsmouth crowd was firmly back into the game.

The Patriots’ hanged tough for the remainder of the game, outscoring the Skippers 5-4 in the second half — including three straight goals in a space of about 2 minutes, 15 seconds — and not letting their older and bigger opponents intimidate them.

“My team is an extremely young team,” Ms. McHugh said after the game. “I lost about nine seniors that were amazing last year. This team came in and I had about eight or nine freshmen, sophomore starters that performed for me.”

She marveled at the play of freshman Nora Cooney, who scored twice, including one goal during what was perhaps the prettiest play of the entire afternoon. Sophomore Kaitlin Roche, stationed behind the net, drilled a perfect pass to Cooney, who was in great position in front of the goalie. She didn’t miss.

Sophomore Elizabeth Skeels led all scorers for Portsmouth with five goals — including the Patriots’ final two. 

Also contributing on offense were Roche and senior Lois Manning, with a goal apiece.

Portsmouth may have scored more in the second half, but the Skippers started slowing the offense pace with about 10 minutes left, effectively killing the clock.

The Patriots goalie, Emerson O'Connor, made several outstanding saves, including one at the very end of the first half that could have killed any momentum Portsmouth had regained.

Hugs all around

Ms. McHugh hugged her players after the game, and told them they should be proud of their performance against such an experienced team.

“Not the outcome I wanted, but 14-9 against that team, who didn’t think we were good enough? That’s enough for me,” said Ms. McHugh. “People can say what they want. I’ve got a team full of scrappy kids, who want to be out there, who want to play, who deserve to be here today. That’s all that matters. This is the first time this team has been here since I was a senior in high school — 2013.”

And, she said, just watch out for next year. 

“We’re losing one senior — that’s it,” she said, adding her team should be even better next year. 

“I’m ready for it.”

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