MANCHESTER — For Pinkerton Academy of Derry, it’s two years of elation. For Souhegan of Amherst, it’s three years of frustration.
No. 2 Pinkerton (18-3) built an early lead and then held off a furious comeback from top-ranked Souhegan (18-3) to emerge with a 13-12 win in the NHIAA girls’ Division I lacrosse state championship at Southern New Hampshire University Tuesday night.
It was the second consecutive state title for the Astros while Souhegan ended the season as runner-up for the third straight year.
“Before the game, we talked about the character of our team and three words came to mind,” said Pinkerton head coach Rob Daziel. “Smart, tough and from the heart. That describes those kids. It’s all them. They worked hard.”
Pinkerton led 9-3 at the half and extended the lead to 12-4 with 18:25 remaining in the game. The Sabers began to climb back into it from there, led by senior Mickenzie Larivee.
Souhegan went on a 6-0 run over a span of nine minutes with Larivee scoring three of the goals and assisting on two more. She was also winning the draws to get the Sabers the ball back.
“She almost single-handedly got us back into it, along with (Madison Learned),” said Souhegan head coach Maren Petropulos. “She’s just so strong on the draw and she just reaches out and gets it and you can’t stop her. She almost brought us back.”
That run cut the Astros’ lead to 12-10 with 8:47 remaining. Pinkerton’s Micaela Capozzo scored to break the run and make it 13-10 with 4:58 remaining. Learned scored for Souhegan with 4:15 remaining, but Pinkerton was able to kill some clock before the Sabers scored again to make it 13-12 with 1:09 remaining on Larivee’s fifth goal of the game.
Sophomore Alison Davis won the ensuing draw for Pinkerton and the Astros were able to run down the clock and claim the state championship.
“Ali was a freshman last year and she scored one of the winning goals (in the state title game against Souhegan) coming across the crease,” Daziel said. “She pulled up big again this year winning that draw.”
For Souhegan, it was a third consecutive year of coming up just short in the big game.
“It is frustrating for these girls. This senior class just worked so hard this year. They’re great kids,” Petropulos said. “I’m sad for them because it should have happened this year.”
Pinkerton built a 9-3 lead at halftime by scoring in bunches. Souhegan led 1-0 at the 2:38 mark on a goal from Olivia Durling. Pinkerton tied the game on an Aleah MacKay goal before Souhegan reclaimed the lead at 4:36 on a Larivee tally.
The Astros scored the next three to take a 4-2 lead before Jocelyn Donohue stopped the bleeding for Souhegan with a goal. But it was only a speed bump as Pinkerton went to score the last five goals of the first half, with three of them coming from Kennedy Daziel.
“The first half we played was not our game,” Petropulos said. “We played the second half like we should have played the first half and like we played all season. We just didn’t have a good first half.”
Daziel led Pinkerton with four goals. Maggie McCarthy (two goals, two assists), Sierra Sanchez (two goals, assist), Capozzo (two goals, assist), Erin Coutts (two goals) and MacKay (goal, assist) added to the offense. Sarah Lambert made seven saves in goal.
Daziel topped 200 goals for her career in the game.
“We play together. That’s our motto. We support each other. If we make mistakes, we pick each other up. It’s all about teamwork and being one,” Kennedy Daziel said. “I had no idea (about the 200th goal). I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”
Larivee led Souhegan with five goals and three assists. Donohue (three goals), Learned (goal, three assists), Jesse Jay (goal), Durling (goal) and Katherine Bermingham (goal) chipped in for the Sabers. Meaghan Allard made five saves in goal.