BEDFORD — Bishop Guertin of Nashua and Pinkerton Academy of Derry expected to be the last teams standing.
And they are.
No. 1 Bishop Guertin defeated No. 4 Hanover by an 11-3 score and No. 2 Pinkerton cruised past No. 6 Exeter 15-4 in NHIAA Division I boys’ lacrosse semifinal action at Bedford High School Sunday night.
Pinkerton and BG will meet in the state championship game Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Bedford. The teams met in last year’s title game, with BG prevailing. The Cardinals have won the past four state titles. Bishop Guertin won the regular-season meeting by a 14-11 score.
“I’m not surprised that it’s Pinkerton (in the final),” said Bishop Guertin head coach Chris Cameron, whose team is 18-2. “I think the kids have been sitting on this game for a while. I think you’re going to see a much better performance than we had (Sunday night). I think these guys are ready to play.”
While Cameron is not surprised it’s Pinkerton in the final, Astros head coach Brian O’Reilly is not surprised either.
“Our players expect to be in the championship game every year. You notice when the game was over they didn’t go charging on the field and jump on top of each other because they expected this,” O’Reilly said. “Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t expect that Exeter could beat us, because I always believe that from a quality team. But now we’re where we need to be. We’ll see what happens the next game as far as jumping on top of each other. That’s a whole different ball game.”
Bishop Guertin 11, Hanover 3: Hanover led early in a slow first period, but as the game wore on the Cardinals began to take control.
The Marauders scored the first goal 5:03 into the game when Teddy Geraghty tallied. Bishop Guertin tied the game at 1-1 on a Connor Donahue goal with 1:18 remaining and 17 seconds later Cardinal Dom St. Laurent scored with a low rip to give BG a 2-1 lead after one period.
“I wouldn’t say we had them (early), but we played really well. We made them work,” said Hanover head coach Jeff Reed, who is retiring. “They’re just so good. We’d have a breakdown and they make you pay. Our goal was to hold them under 10 and we almost did that.”
The Cardinals began to dominate in the second period, pushing the lead to 4-1 on goals from Donahue and John Miller. Hanover’s Brendan Forauer cut the lead to 4-2, but Nick Prunier closed the first-half scoring with another BG goal to leave the score 5-2 at the break.
Hanover’s Conor Austin scored 51 seconds into the third period to make it 5-3, but that was as close as the Marauders (12-8) would come as BG scored five goals to close the period. The Cardinals slowed the game down in the fourth to kill the clock, scoring the only goal of the period (a Mike Carluccio tally) to account for the 11-3 final score.
Donahue (two goals, assist), Miller (goal, two assists), St. Laurent (two goals), Prunier (two goals) and Tom Hurley (two goals) led the BG offense. Goalie Jake Sonberg stopped six shots. Hanover keeper Chris Washington made seven saves.
Pinkerton 15, Exeter 4: The Blue Hawks (11-8) came out with some fire, but Pinkerton quickly doused it. Exeter scored the first goal of the game, by senior Buddy Carr, just 12 seconds into the game. Pinkerton (17-3) responded with goals from Jake Lisauskas and Jack Hanaway, but Exeter tied the game at 2-2 on another Carr tally 3:47 in.
“They get the ball to Buddy Carr, who we all know is their best player. We know he’s lefthanded, we know he likes to curl to the left and rip lefthanded. So he caught the ball, curled to the left and ripped lefthanded and I was sitting there by myself and I was like, 'Is it going to be like this today?’” O’Reilly said. “The next time down, Buddy made another nice move up inside, tucked his stick in there and stuck in a second goal. But then he was pretty much quiet for the rest of the game. But it was a little disconcerting for the first few minutes.”
Pinkerton’s Austin Maylor scored with 32 seconds remaining in the first period to make it 3-2 Astros and start a string of eight unanswered Pinkerton goals that extended into the third period. The Astros scored all five second-period goals to carry an 8-2 lead into halftime.
“I expected guys to be a little tight. At some point you’ve got to play the game and I think the second quarter unfortunately sealed our fate,” said Exeter head coach Gerry Holly. “We just could not control the ball, threw it all over the place and had no time of possession.”
Pinkerton led 10-2 with 4:53 remaining in the third quarter when Exeter’s Sean Penna ripped a laser from 10 yards out to stop the Astros’ string of goals. Lisauskas scored his second goal of the game to close the third period with the score 11-3.
The Astros closed the game with a 4-1 edge in the fourth frame to seal the win. Exeter’s final goal was scored by Michael Cashman, making it 12-4 at the time. Pinkerton slowed the game down and added three more tallies after that.
Senior Sean Delea scored three goals to lead Pinkerton. Evan Sweeney (two goals), James Tulley (goal, assist), Mason Barchard (assist), Todd Billetter (goal), Bailey Walsh (goal) and long stick midfielder Ryan Burke (goal) all chipped in for Pinkerton. Goalie Cam Hayward made seven saves.