EXETER — As he spoke to his players during halftime of the NHIAA Division I boys’ lacrosse championship game Saturday night at Bill Ball Stadium, Pinkerton Academy coach Brian O’Reilly asked them to envision something.
O’Reilly told his players to imagine the game just ended and Bishop Guertin won the state title by a 6-5 score on Dawson Clark’s goal that came with 1.1 seconds left before halftime.
“We said, ‘Don’t get excited by a big run, don’t get depressed if they get a big run,’” O’Reilly said. “The only other thing I said to them at halftime was, I want you to think for a moment that the game just ended and we just lost right now in the last 10 seconds of the game and you’re getting ready to go on the bus and there’s nothing more you can do about it. And then all of a sudden, somebody says, ‘Get off the bus. Let’s get back on the field. Let’s try it again.’”
The Astros seized their second-half opportunity and won their second consecutive state championship with a 14-12 come-from-behind victory over Bishop Guertin.
The top-seeded Cardinals (18-3) had a 9-6 lead entering the fourth quarter and held second-seeded Pinkerton (17-4) to one goal over the previous two periods. The Astros scored the first three goals of the fourth quarter over the opening 1:44 of the frame to draw even and ended the game on a 5-2 run.
“There wasn’t any doubt that we believed we were the far better team,” O’Reilly said. “(Bishop Guertin) proved that we’re not the far better team. We’re just the better team.”
Bishop Guertin coach Chris Cameron said his team lost its composure after Pinkerton’s Hunter Drouin and Gennaro Marra each scored in the opening 36 seconds of the fourth quarter. The Cardinals held Pinkerton scoreless in the second quarter and entered the final period on an 8-1 run.
“I think those two quick goals that they got kind of rattled us a little bit,” Cameron said. “Our motto all year has been play fast, play loose and play disciplined. We were playing fast. We didn’t play loose in the beginning, we didn’t play loose in the end and then we were disciplined for parts.”
Drouin, a sophomore, his older Mason, a junior, and Marra, a senior, powered the Astros’ fourth-quarter comeback.
Mason Drouin scored three of his game-high five goals while Hunter notched two of his four tallies in the final frame. After Clark tied the game at 12-12 with 59.4 seconds left, Mason Drouin scored the game’s final two goals to secure Pinkerton’s title.
“That’s what you need in games like this — you need big players like them to come up when you need them to,” Marra said of the Drouin brothers.
The score was tied three times over the final 10:16. As the clock wound down, O’Reilly knew he had a nearly unstoppable force on the faceoff X in Marra.
Marra logged eight of his 21 faceoff wins in the fourth quarter, including the game’s final three.
Marra, who will play at Southern New Hampshire University next year, won 19 faceoffs and lost three — all due to procedure — in the Astros’ semifinal win over Exeter. He won 23 of 27 faceoffs in Pinkerton’s quarterfinal triumph over rival Londonderry and 17 in the Astros’ 12-11 regular-season loss to BG.
“It’s a weapon that we’ve had for two years and there’s no answer to that weapon,” O’Reilly said. “There really isn’t. You can try different things. You can take some kids out, you can bring guys off the wing and try to beat on the kid while he’s got the ball...You can’t do that to (Marra).
“He has the heart of a warrior.”
The Astros scored the game’s first four goals and led, 5-1, after the opening quarter before Bishop Guertin found its scoring stride in the second frame.
Marra and Ryan Auger both scored twice while Owen McCormack tallied one goal for the Astros. Pinkerton senior goalie Jack Sweeney made 16 saves.
Clark, Sean Cameron and Ben Abladian each had a hat trick while Chris Kiely scored twice for Bishop Guertin. The Cardinals also received a goal from Mason Carroll and 11 saves from James Heitmiller.
“We told them (the players), ‘Look guys, it’s going to be a game of runs,’” Chris Cameron said. “It was just one run after another and ultimately (Pinkerton) went on the final run.”