NHIAA D-I Field Hockey: Pinkerton, Winnacunnet advance to final
Kaylie Decosmo of Pinkerton Academy and Alexa Grott of Exeter High focus on the ball during the Division I Field Hockey semifinals on Thursday in Exeter. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
What's NextDivision I championship will be at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at Bedford High School.
Two-time defending champion Winnacunnet will take on Pinkerton.
EXETER -- The third time was the charm for Julie Saltimartini.
The junior forward scored on her third breakaway of the game to give the top-seeded Pinkerton Academy of Derry field hockey team a 1-0 win in overtime over No. 5 Exeter during the Division I semifinals at Bill Ball Stadium on Thursday.
"I don't like unfinished business," Saltamartini said. "It might have taken me a few tries, but I finally got it right."
The win puts the Astros in the championship against second-seeded Winnacunnet of Hampton on Sunday at Bedford High School at 2:30 p.m. The two-time defending champion Warriors beat No. 6 Salem 2-0 in the other semifinal.
Thre game was balanced and both teams had their opportunities in both regulation and overtime. Alexa Adams made some outstanding saves to keep the Blue Hawks (12-3-2) in the game.
Like she had twice before, Saltamartini beat the final defender and deked around Adams for an open net. The first two times, she couldn't get a shot off, but this time she shot the ball into the net 9:51 into the first overtime period for the win.
Exeter had a tipped shot go just wide early in the second half and nearly scored with 1:00 left in regulation when a redirected shot was just off the mark. Jordan Dudley made 12 saves for the Astros (13-1-2).
Adams made a great save on a blast by Saltamartini with 19:40 left in regulation, and had a couple others that kept her team afloat as well.
Winnacunnet 2, Salem 0
The future of the Winnacunnet field hockey program is pretty bright.
Two sophomores scored for the second-seeded Warriors as they downed No. 6 Salem 2-0 in the Division I semifinals at Bill Ball Stadium on Thursday night.
Megan Chase netted the first goal with 6:26 left in the first half and Britni Ballance scored the second with 5:08 remaining in the game. Senior goalie Haley Morancy made one save to pick up the shutout in another dominant performance by the Warriors defense that now has 11 shutouts to its credit.
The Blue Devils finish their season with a record of 10-5-2.
"It's exciting," Chase said about playing in her first high school championship. "IT's also nerve wracking, but a little more exciting."
Chase's goal happened shortly after a penalty corner by the Warriors. Salem managed to clear the ball out of the circle, but a Winnacunnet player sent it right back in to Elisabeth Auffant.
Auffant collected the ball on the right side of the net, sent a pass to the left side and Chase popped it in with 6:26 left in the first half.
"She trapped it in front and I said 'I'm on the far post,'" Chase said. "I got my stick on it and it went in."
That was all the offense Winnacunnet needed. The defense went into shut-down mode after that, holding Salem to no penalty corners or shots in the second half.
The Warriors now have a nine-game winning streak during which they have only given up three goals.
"Our defense communicated and did really well," Winnacunnet coach Heidi Hand said. "Communication was key for us in this game."
THe second goal happened during a flurry of offense in front of Salem goalie Brianna Rastello (10 saves). She made one save, but kicked the rebound to Ballance, who fired a shot from the top of the circle into the back of the net to make it 2-0 with 5:08 remaining.
"I thought we played pretty well," Salem coach John Gatsas said. "We just didn't have enough offense generated."
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Mark Quirk may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.