EXETER – One on the left side and the other on the right, the Marshall sisters seem to always know where to find each other on the field, no matter how many yards of turf are stretched between them.
The twins have heard this before.
“People always say we have this twin connection and know where each other will be,” Kayleigh Marshall said.
While transitioning into the offensive end, Kayleigh sent a sharp cross from the right of the goal to the left post where her sister, Amanda, was running in to receive the pass. It met Amanda at the right time as the Bow junior put a foot on the ball and watched it skip into the back of the net.
The goal gave No. 1 Bow (19-1) a 1-0 lead in the 77th minute against No. 2 Souhegan (16-2-2) and the Falcons held on to capture the Division II girls’ soccer championship Sunday afternoon at Bill Ball Stadium.
“I was just making that run to be there and be the extra help,” Amanda said.
It turned out to be the right place at the right time.
“I knew that she was going to be able to finish it,” Kayleigh said.
After winning four championships in five years from 2011 to 2015, the Falcons earned their first state title since joining Division II last year.
Coming into the season, Bow Coach Jay Vogt said the team’s success would hinge on how quickly they could learn to play together. The squad that lost 11 seniors to graduation quickly found its groove this fall, shutting out 11 opponents in the regular season while averaging more than four goals per game.
The Marshall twins, both juniors, played a large role in the Falcons’ electric offense this season, but it was the cohesiveness seen throughout the Bow lineup that Vogt is most impressed with.
“For them to come together and go 19-1, that’s crazy,” Vogt said, wrapping up his 14th season at the helm of the Bow girls’ soccer program.
The Falcons earned a trip to the finals thanks in large part to the smart play of their senior goalkeeper, Bridget Ehrenberg, who stopped five shots out of nine on penalty kicks in the semis against Hanover. The Marauders had the momentum in that match, and Vogt challenged his team to come out firing from the first whistle against Souhegan.
“We learned from our game Thursday that we needed to come out strong,” he said. “That’s the great thing about this team; they learn to make adjustments, they learn from the previous game, we talk about it and they came out and played.”
Ehrenberg didn’t have to handle as many shots in this match, scooping up a pair of shots mustered on net by the Souhegan offense.
There was more action at the other end of the pitch, where the Falcons fired four shots in the first half and four more in the second. Souhegan keeper Lily Batchelder handled them all with impressive quickness until the last one where the Marshalls connected.
“There was definitely some frustration because we were having trouble finishing it and finding feet, but it’s just an amazing feeling when you can finish it,” Kayleigh said.
One of the most frustrating moments came with five minutes left in the first half when Madison Paul’s goal was waved off for an offsides call.
“I was disappointed we didn’t score, but I was happy with the way we played and I thought eventually something would come if we kept playing that way,” Vogt said.
The Falcons met their coach’s demands with an up-tempo attack from the start, but Souhegan battled back and created some of its best chances in the last 15 minutes of the match.
“You could feel the momentum shift a little bit and it felt like we were starting to create some opportunities that were getting pretty dangerous, but we just couldn’t get the ball to fall in the right place at the right time,” Sabers first-year Coach Dan Wyborney said.
“Bow moved the ball well with great possession,” he added. “They’ve got speed on the flanks on the outside, so we knew they were going to give us some problems on the outside. We did a good job all game defending and keeping it out of there, but all it takes is one time to get that ball slipped in.”
The Falcons should be in good shape to make another run to the playoffs next season as it aims to continue establishing its presence as a contender in Division II. The team will lose just five seniors and return a loaded class headlined by this year’s 11 juniors.
The experience gained from this fall should go a long way. Vogt used almost the entire lineup in the championship game, substituting as many as five players on and off the field at a given time.
“Everybody played excellent,” Vogt said. “Anybody that stepped on the field did what they needed to do.”