EXETER — No matter how many times the Pinkerton Academy of Derry boys’ lacrosse team saw one of its shots denied, it just kept shooting.
The Astros pulled out a 10-9 victory over Exeter despite a 23-save effort from Blue Hawks junior goalie Henry Vogt.
“We weren’t getting frustrated,” Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly said. “We know he’s a good goaltender and good goaltenders are going to make saves but they (goalies) are really valuable if kids don’t understand they’re good and then they (players) get frustrated and then they get down.
“You just keep shooting, keep shooting, keep shooting. That’s all you can do.”
The Blue Hawks (1-1) shut off Pinkerton midfielder Mason Drouin for large parts of the game but the junior still led his team in scoring with three goals and an assist.
The goal that earned Drouin the hat trick decided the game.
The Bryant University commit scored on a mid-range shot with three minutes remaining to break a 9-9 deadlock.
“I just took a nice shot and luckily Henry let it in,” Drouin said. “He was good all game.”
The fact Drouin notched the game-winner was not a surprise to his coach.
“The players that are players, they come through in the end,” O’Reilly said. “Both teams — whoever they are, they manage to get the ball on their stick and they manage to pull the shot you need.”
After watching Pinkerton (2-1 entering Tuesday night’s showdown at Bishop Guertin) nearly run out the clock, the Blue Hawks got the ball for the final time with about 13 seconds remaining but could not fire a shot toward Astros goalie Jack Sweeney (seven saves).
Vogt made at least five saves in each quarter and denied the first six shots he saw. Drouin put Pinkerton on the board with 36.8 seconds left in the opening quarter to cut Exeter’s lead to 3-1 entering the second frame.
“I told the team afterwards, ‘That’s the best goalie performance I’ve seen ever here at Exeter High School,’” Blue Hawks coach Gerry Holly said. “It was just phenomenal. Everything was right on top of him and he was just as good as I’ve seen him play.”
The score was tied four times. Pinkerton took its first lead with 9:09 left in the third quarter on a goal from senior long-stick midfielder Tommy McGarrahan and never trailed again.
McGarrahan’s goal was part of the Astros’ 3-0 run over the opening 3:43 of the second half that turned their 6-5 halftime deficit into an 8-6 advantage.
Exeter freshman Aiden Drunsic notched his second goal with 3:29 remaining to tie the game at 9-9. Drouin answered with the game-winner 29 seconds later.
Pinkerton senior Gennaro Marra won 16 faceoffs, giving the Astros a clear possession edge throughout. The midfielder also logged a goal and seven ground balls.
Owen McCormack scored twice while McGarrahan, Hunter Drouin, Connor McCormack and Ryan Auger each tallied a goal for Pinkerton.
Drunsic, Dayton Christenson and Spencer Clark each scored twice while Connor Holly, Hayden Lechner and Wyatt Carr all notched one for the Blue Hawks. Carr also recorded a game-high six assists. Exeter midfielder Connor Flanagan won six faceoffs.
“They’re obviously one of the best programs for a reason,” Gerry Holly said. “They always find a way to win games.”