BEDFORD — Senior midfielder Alexa Grott tipped home a shot from Erin McKenna with 12:51 remaining to lift fourth-ranked Exeter past second-ranked and defending champion Pinkerton Academy of Derry 2-1 on Sunday for the Division I field hockey tournament championship at Bedford High.
Exeter returned home with the program's first state title win after completing a 13-3-1 season.
On a penalty corner, McKenna, recently named the Division I Player of the Year, patiently waited for the Pinkerton defense to approach her before finding Grott, who tipped the ball past Pinkerton goalie Jordan Dudley for the winning goal.
"It's only fitting Erin played a major part in the winning goal," said Exeter coach Debra Grott (Alexa's mom), who explained that McKenna lost her mother, Deb, to cancer two days before the start of the season. "We all rallied behind Erin and from that point on, we became a stronger team."
Exeter held a 1-0 first half lead behind an unassisted tally from McKenna. Pinkerton tied the game 8:48 into the second half on a score by Amanda Szostak. The assist went to Jessica Cote.
Pinkerton defeated Exeter 2-0 during the regular season, but Pinkerton coach Jen Resmini said Exeter came out with a faster tempo.
"This was a back and forth game," she said. "In a game like this you need to create scoring chances and they got one off the penalty corner."
Resmini, whose team finished its season with a 15-2 record, is looking forward to next season. "We had 11 juniors this year on a team that made it to the state finals," she said. "Experience should be one of our strengths next season."
As for Exeter coach Grott, being part of the school's first title is special. "I've been with the program since 2002 and we finished second overall a few times. Winning it all just feels great and our girls deserve all the credit. They played like a team all season."