EXETER — It was an emotional night for the Exeter girls’ lacrosse team. And in the end, an emotional win.
With many family members in attendance, sisters Lauren and Kim Arkell returned to the Blue Hawks lineup for the first time since their father, Brentwood Police Officer Stephen Arkell, was killed in the line of duty last Monday. Senior midfielder Kim Arkell scored a goal and freshman attack Lauren added an assist to help Exeter defeat Pinkerton Academy of Derry 10-9 at Bill Ball Stadium Monday night.
“More than anything we just wanted to come back with our regular team. We were happy to have the team back together and we were excited to play together again,” said Exeter head coach Courtney Preneta. “We wanted to play as a team and we did.”
Exeter (10-4) had played two games without the Arkells, losing to Souhegan of Amherst 16-10 on Friday and beating Hollis/Brookline Sunday 15-7.
“With 18 kids on the team, some kids are feeling a little better. There are ups and downs for everybody,” Preneta said. “We had to see how all the individuals were feeling and be open to letting the kids feel how they feel. We’re just trying to take it one day at a time and we’re pleased with the effort and the outcome.”
Exeter led 8-3 at halftime and 9-3 early in the second half after a Kristina Keith goal, but Pinkerton (13-2) began to climb back into the game. Maggie McCarthy scored twice for Pinkerton to make it 9-5, but Keith scored her fifth goal of the game with 11:47 remaining to push the lead to 10-5.
The Astros continued to press, getting goals from Aleah MacKay and McCarthy to cut the deficit to 10-7 with 4:18 to go. Exeter was able to run some time off the clock, but Pinkerton kept coming.
Kennedy Daziel scored with 53 seconds remaining and then again with 23 ticks left to make it 10-9, but Exeter closed down the game from there to earn the win.
“We let them jump up on us and were not able to get back,” said Pinkerton coach Rob Daziel. “They were able to stall the ball and the clock was on their side. We pressured well and caused some turnovers and made it a game in the end. But it was too late.”
Kennedy Daziel scored 1:08 into the game to give Pinkerton a 1-0 lead, but the Blue Hawks took control from there to rattle off six in a row through the midway point of the first half.
Ana Toomey got the run started with a goal from the right side off a feed from Jenna Henningsen to tie the game at 1-1 3:09 into the game. Kim Arkell gave Exeter a 2-1 lead three minutes later and Kelly Moran set up Keith for a pair of goals that pushed the Blue Hawks’ lead to 4-1.
Lauren Arkell sent a long pass to a wide-open Henningsen all alone in front for another Exeter tally and Henningsen struck again with 12:54 remaining in the half to make it 6-1. Erin Coutts scored on a bouncer to break the string for Pinkerton and cut the lead to 6-2.
Keith scored with 6:20 remaining and Anna Vogt also tallied for Exeter to push the advantage to 8-2. Daziel scored to bookend the first half for the Astros, leaving the score 8-3 Blue Hawks at intermission.