MANCHESTER — From the one-two seedings to the their one-goal regular-season finale, it appeared as though Souhegan of Amherst and Pinkerton Academy of Derry were on a collision course.
That collision took place Tuesday night and it was the No. 2 Astros coming away with a 12-10 win to upset top-ranked Souhegan for the NHIAA Division I girls’ lacrosse championship in front of a crowd of 699 at Southern New Hampshire University Tuesday night.
Souhegan (17-2) had not lost to a New Hampshire team all season and had beaten Pinkerton 8-7 in the regular-season finale. But the title game went to a Pinkerton squad (17-4) that battled all season.
“We lost a few early in the season but we just kept trying to improve our game. We stuck with our game plan from March 19 when we started,” said Astros head coach Rob Daziel. “We just worked and worked and worked on the same things and the girls got better as the games went on.”
Pinkerton led 6-4 at the half and was able to hold Souhegan at bay throughout the second, never allowing the Sabers to get closer than two goals and killing the final minute with ball possession in the Souhegan end.
But the game nearly turned on a coaching maneuver from Souhegan skipper Maren Petropulos. Pinkerton’s Micaela Cappozzo gave the Astros a 12-8 lead with just under 5:00 remaining. But Petropulos asked the officials to check Cappozzo’s stick and the basket was ruled illegal so the goal came off the board.
Less than a minute later, Saber senior Jamie Wallisch scored to make it 11-9 and give Souhegan a boost. Turnabout is fair play and Daziel had Wallisch’s stick checked, but that goal stood. The Sabers were unable to maintain pressure and Pinkerton took a 12-9 lead on a goal from sophomore Maggie McCarthy.
“It could have been a game-changer, but we didn’t capitalize on that,” Petropulos said of the goal that came off the scoreboard. “Had we scored right after that it would have been even better. Had we scored (again) off of that it would have been down to one (goal difference).”
Souhegan pulled within two at 12-10 on a bounce-in goal from junior Jesse Jay with 1:58 remaining. Senior Olivia Veillette had a chance to close the gap to a single goal off a free position play, but Astros junior goalkeeper Sarah Lambert (four saves) made a big save.
“Sarah our goalie, what a kid she is. She’s had some tough games but bounced back every game,” Daziel said. “Every save against a team like that is huge. Souhegan is a dominant team. She’s so mentally tough to hang in there.”
From there, all that was left was to kill the clock and claim the first Pinkerton state title since 2004.
“I think that’s all about confidence in your heart,” McCarthy said. “We play as a team and together and that’s what our speeches are all about. Stay together and don’t get down. We never play like we’re (ahead) because it’s all about intensity.”
McCarthy finished with four goals and junior Kennedy Daziel led Pinkerton with five goals and an assist.
Sierra Sanchez (two goals) and Alison Davis (goal) rounded out the scoring for the Astros.
Souhegan was paced by junior Mickenzie Larrivee (four goals, two assists), classmate Jocelyn Donohue (two goals) and Jay (two goals). Madison Learned and Wallisch added single tallies.
Goalie Megan Kolopsky stopped three shots.