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High School Lacrosse: In the end, Astros stood tall

June 10. 2018 8:45PM
Pinkerton Academy's Christopher Valentine, left, begins to celebrate with the team after they defeated Bishop Guertin, 11-9, in the NHIAA Div. I Lacrosse Championship game Saturday at Exeter High School. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

Pinkerton Academy players, including Christopher Valentine(9) and Dominic Zirn, celebrate their 11-9 win over Bishop Guertin in the NHIAA Div. I Lacrosse Championship game Saturday at Exeter High School. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

AFTER LEADING the Pinkerton Academy of Derry boys’ lacrosse team to its 11th state title Saturday night, coach Brian O’Reilly quoted former boxing champion Mike Tyson.

O’Reilly noted Tyson once said, “Everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Pinkerton delivered one heck of a jab to Bishop Guertin of Nashua at the beginning of Saturday’s NHIAA Division I championship game and went on to earn an 11-9 victory.

The second-seeded Astros (19-2) scored five of the game’s first six goals and led, 6-2, at halftime.

“Playing the worst half we’ve ever played all year in the first half hurt us but we showed character to come back,” Cardinals coach Chris Cameron said. “And then we were just never able to get over that hump.”

Top-seeded Bishop Guertin (20-1) scored just one goal in the first, second and fourth quarters and never led in the contest.

Bishop Guertin put together its best quarter in the third, ripping off the first four goals of the second half to tie the game at 6-6. Pinkerton weathered the Cardinals’ four-goal flurry and took a 9-8 lead into the fourth quarter.

“We knew coming out of the second half that they were going to come out firing,” Pinkerton senior Chris Valentine (four goals) said of the Cardinals. “We just had to come out faster than them. They cut it close — give it to them — but we came out faster after that and we just kept putting it in the back of the net.”

If the Cardinals could have secured a lead in the third quarter, it could have changed things, Cameron said.

“We had chances to take the lead, but for whatever reason we got unraveled and we gave (Pinkerton) two goals,” Cameron said. “We had multiple chances to take the lead.”

Cameron noted the Astros’ lead allowed them to utilize the methodical style they like to play.

One of the reasons behind Pinkerton’s lead for most of the game and subsequent ability to dictate the pace was Gennaro Marra’s faceoff success. The junior won 13 of the game’s 20 faceoffs.

Marra won the opening faceoff of the fourth quarter. The Astros then took 3:55 off the clock before Bishop Guertin gained its first possession of the final frame.

“There aren’t a lot of kids that play football, hockey and lacrosse,” O’Reilly said of Marra. “You are not going to out-tough him. He is a throwback athlete like we used to get all the time in high school that we don’t anymore.”

Pinkerton added to its one-goal advantage in the fourth quarter when Owen McCormack and Chad Teresky (three goals) scored 29 seconds apart late in the frame. McCormack built a 10-8 Astros lead with 3:52 remaining before Teresky created a three-goal cushion with 3:23 left.

Bishop Guertin senior Drew Hailey scored with 1:07 remaining to bring his team within two. Pinkerton senior goalie Alex Sturgess (13 saves) and his defense stood tall the rest of the way.

“I knew going up three goals that it was over,” Valentine said. “I knew we were winning that game.”

Despite falling short of the title, Cameron said this year’s team was the best he has ever had at Bishop Guertin. That is high praise considering the number of talented squads Cameron has led during his tenure.

“It was the best team I’ve ever coached, ever been around,” Cameron said. “We always brought our best but (Saturday) was the one time we didn’t and you’ve got to credit Pinkerton with that.”

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THE Derryfield School of Manchester boys’ team did not win the faceoff battle against Portsmouth in the Division II championship game on Saturday. The Cougars did enough to win their 54th straight game and third consecutive state title, though.

Derryfield junior John Anderson broke a 5-5 tie with 1:46 remaining in the third quarter and the Cougars never looked back en route to an 11-6 victory.

Anderson recorded two goals and won five faceoffs in the win.

Portsmouth junior faceoff specialist Cole Brams won 14 of the game’s 19 faceoffs.

“Cole is a key asset to our team,” Clippers senior midfielder Oliver Allen said. “I think a team gets used to faceoff wins and the clamp and the win, and they did a nice job of defending really high-level faceoffs.”

Cougars coach Chris Hettler said as the game went on, he thought Anderson gained confidence at the faceoff X. Anderson won just one faceoff in the first half but won four in the second half. Three of his faceoff wins came in the third quarter.

“I think he energized himself with two big goals he had,” Hettler said of Anderson. “I think that was a big turning point for us. Once John started to figure out the faceoff circle, got a little better wing play and we could get some possessions, it worked to our advantage.”

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THE Laconia High girls’ team secured its third Division III championship in four years behind a scoring surge to start the second half.

Fourth-seeded Laconia scored the first six goals of the second half — erasing any memories of a halftime tie — on its way to a 10-6 victory over second-seeded Hopkinton in the state title game.

Sachems star midfielder Becca Howe scored three of her team’s first six second-half goals. The St. Bonaventure University commit did not find the back of the net on her own, however.

Laconia junior midfielder Sydney Stevens assisted on each of Howe’s three second-half goals.

“We’ve been doing that a lot this season and it wasn’t working too well at the beginning,” Howe said of the connection between her and Stevens. “And then we were just working so much harder. And when I would get like one step ahead, she would just hit it and it just worked out perfectly for us.”

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WHILE the Hollis/Brookline girls’ team did not win the Division II championship this spring, coach Jim Maxwell is excited about the future of his program.

Hollis/Brookline graduates just one player from this year’s team that reached the D-II title game. Portsmouth defeated the Cavaliers, 16-10, to win its second consecutive championship.

This year marked Hollis/Brookline’s first state championship appearance since it won the Division III title in 2010.

“We have a good crew of kids here,” Maxwell said. “We have a good group of kids at the JV level. We have a good group of eighth graders that are coming into the school. We feel confident we’re going to be a stronger team next year and we really wanted the girls to remember this feeling because I don’t want them to ever feel this feeling again. Because next year, we’re going to go after it and we’re going to win it. That’s our goal.”

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