Rematch … sort of

DERRY – On the schedule, a game between the Souhegan High School and Pinkerton Academy girls lacrosse teams looks like a rematch of the last two Division I championship games.

But given the number of players both teams lost to graduation, about the only constants were the coaches and the uniforms.

Of course, so was the outcome.

Souhegan, which won the regular-season meeting the last two years but lost in the final each time to Pinkerton, controlled the draw throughout the second half Friday and held on at the end for a 12-10 win over the Astros.

The Sabers took control of the game with a 6-1 run in the second half, and after Pinkerton cut the lead to two, Souhegan got possession with just under three minutes to play and ran out the clock.

“This wasn’t indicative of anything other than it being a really hard-fought game,” Souhegan coach Maren Petropulos said. “We always do that against them and they always do that against us. Both teams are going to grow a lot between now and the playoffs. The Pinkerton we saw (Friday) will be different, and the Souhegan team they saw will be different.”

Emma Estabrook and Kate Bermingham (one assist) led the Sabers (6-0) with three goals apiece, while Brigid Casey had two goals and two assists and Sammi Jay added two scores. Jules Donohue and Hailey Johnson had a goal each and Meaghan Allard made 12 saves, including several in the first half that kept Souhegan in front.

The Sabers took a 3-1 lead just 5:38 into the game, and Pinkerton’s Maggie McCarthy (four goals) scored with 16:26 left in the half, but neither team would break through for more than 16 minutes.

Allard was a big part of that, as she stopped the Astros (3-2) on a handful of free position shots.

“Meaghan had some good saves in goal,” Petropulos said. “She’s grown a lot for a sophomore. She’s very poised and she’s more confident. We love having her, obviously.”

When Allard wasn’t making a big save in the first half, Pinkerton was turning the ball over.

“We turned the ball over a lot in the first half,” Pinkerton coach Rob Daziel said. “We gave our opportunities to them. That was really the difference, we didn’t turn it over as much in the second half. When we gained possession, we did something with it.”

Souhegan got goals from Casey and Jay in the final 19.1 seconds of the half, and Estabrook added another just 1:24 into the second to put the Sabers up 6-2.

But the Astros answered with three straight goals – one each from McCarthy, Colby Millsaps and Amanda Szostak – to get within one with 17:14 to play. Petropulos used a timeout and the Sabers wasted little time righting the ship.

Bermingham scored 30 seconds after the timeout, starting a 4-0 run that put Souhegan up by five goals. The Sabers maintained possession throughout that stretch, thanks largely to Estabrook’s ability to win the draw.

“I don’t know how she does that (so often),” Petropulos said. “She’s really blossomed here and I think she’s comfortable with who she is playing with.”

Szostak got one back for Pinkerton to make it 10-6 with 9:34 to play, but the Sabers scored twice in 31 seconds to take their largest lead, 12-6, with 6:06 to go. That’s when Pinkerton get back in the game by finally getting possession of the draw and take advantage of the opportunities.

“We were able to execute when we had the ball, but we just didn’t have the ball,” Daziel said. “We were starting to create more opportunities at the end, and once we had possession, we were fine. We didn’t get possession.”

The Astros made it 12-10 with 4:15 to play and got the ball back when Souhegan was called for a foul after the goal, but Pinkerton turned the ball over with a little under three minutes to play and the Sabers were able to run out the clock.

“Defense played really hard,” Petropulos said. “We’d been working on some things on defense. Attack, I think we settled it when we needed to and these kids have some really good instincts. Everybody worked really hard.”