EXETER — Bishop Guertin of Nashua girls’ lacrosse coach Kerry Gobiel and her team went into Saturday’s NHIAA Division I semifinal game against Bedford on Saturday expecting the contest to be decided in the final minute.
Gobiel and the Cardinals were right.
Bishop Guertin sweated out a 10-9 victory over the Bulldogs in a rematch of last year’s title game at Bill Ball Stadium.
Third-seeded and defending champion Bishop Guertin (18-2) will play top-seeded Pinkerton Academy of Derry in the Division I championship game Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Southern New Hampshire University. Pinkerton (19-1) defeated fourth-seeded Souhegan of Amherst, 16-5, in Saturday’s other semifinal.
Second-seeded Bedford finished the season with a 16-2 mark.
The Cardinals beat Bedford, 10-9, in overtime in last year’s championship game and fell to the Bulldogs, 15-14, in overtime in the regular season this year.
Down by a goal, the Bulldogs twice gained possession inside the final 1:02 of play. Bishop Guertin freshman goalie Makenna Reekie denied Mackenzie MacEachern’s free-position shot with 36.1 seconds left. Bedford caused a Cardinals turnover and regained possession with 8.6 seconds remaining but did not test Reekie (seven saves) with another shot before time ran out.
“Hallelujah,” Gobiel said. “We have a lot of respect for (Bedford) and I think we knew it was going to be down to the last minute. And 10-9 seems to be a score we always seem to have.”
The Cardinals jumped out to a 4-0 lead, led by at least three goals the rest of the half and took a 7-4 advantage into halftime.
Bedford goalie Hannah Paradis (seven saves) gave her team a spark in the second half by stopping the first five shots she faced. The senior also surrendered just one goal while the Bulldogs were down a player for four minutes in the second half. Teammates Chamberlaine Bell and Hannah McCarthy, the state’s all-time leading goal-scorer, both scored over the opening 7:45 to trim Bishop Guertin’s lead to 7-6.
The Cardinals never allowed Bedford tie the game but saw the latter cut their advantage to one goal three times in the second half. Bulldogs senior midfielder Sydney Lynch scored what proved to be the game’s final goal on a free-position shot with 3:23 remaining.
“I’m going to gauge this game based on the last 12 or so minutes,” Bedford coach Christine Hodgdon said. “Hats off to my kids. They just played super, super tough....We had a couple chances to close it out in the end. I think working that hard for 12 minutes, you run out of gas.”
Abigail Ahearn helped Bishop Guertin hold off the Bulldogs’ second-half surge by scoring three of her team-high four goals over the final 25 minutes. The junior’s fourth tally gave the Cardinals a 10-7 cushion - their largest of the second half - with 7:35 left.
Emily Santom scored twice while Madison Keating, Amelia Piercy, Natalie Coutu and Lindsay Hult each logged a goal for the Cardinals.
McCarthy and Lynch both had a hat trick while MacEachern, Bell and Riley Chou scored once for Bedford.
Bishop Guertin won 12 draws and won the ground-ball battle, 17-10.
“It’s definitely uneasy,” Gobiel said of the game’s closing minutes. “But at the same time, it’s just having confidence in your players and knowing that they can get the job done.”
Pinkerton 16, Souhegan 5: Unlike Saturday’s first semifinal bout, the Astros made sure there was no nail-biting necessary in the nightcap.
Pinkerton scored seven of the game’s first eight goals, led 12-3 at halftime and forced running time in the second half to reach its first title game since 2016. The Astros won the D-I championship that year by defeating Bishop Guertin, 9-5.
Five goals from Madison Daziel and three more from Kiley Davis over the opening 25 minutes powered the Astros’ first-half barrage.
Daziel led the Astros in scoring while Davis and Lily Auger each had a hat trick. Abby Jowett and Lauren Lisauskas both scored twice, Zoe Howe tallied a goal and two assists and Hailey Peredna notched a team-high three helpers for Pinkerton. Astros goalies Dani Martineau and Lauren Sweeney combined for five saves.
Daziel, Davis, Auger and Sydni Derry combined to secure 14 draw controls.
The Sabers (14-4) received a goal each from Hannah Rowe, Clare Woodford, Taylor Clark, Abby Hawkes and Savannah Behn and four saves from goalie Alex LaBrosse.
“We came out firing, that’s for sure,” Pinkerton coach Rob Daziel said. “We challenged the girls to play every aspect of the game and they did. We talked about winning in every aspect of the game and I think, for the most part, they did that and against a good team.”