Bedford scores late to move on to D-I final

Nothing comes easy when you get to the Division I girls soccer semifinals.

Especially if you’re involved in a Bedford High School-Pinkerton Academy battle.

These two teams were evenly matched, and in fact in 160 minutes against each other this season, the final count was 1-1.

But the one goal that counted the most was Christina Campbell’s booming kick from 23 yards out at 63:59 in Wednesday’s Division I semifinals at Stellos Stadium.

It gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 win over the Astros, and lands No. 3 Bedford (15-2-2) in the Division I final for the second straight year, Saturday at 6:15 p.m. at Southern New Hampshire University.

“We knew coming in it wasn’t going to be easy,” Bedford coach Michelle Winning said. “Pinkerton was going to be a tough, tough battle. Both sides are bumped and bruised from it, and that’s the way it should be.”

The second half, Winning said, was “the story of our season. We create opportunities, and a lot of our games have been 1-0. We wouldn’t expect anything less today.

“Can’t get too frustrated, they’re playing their hearts out. That’s all you can ask of them. We just kind of got a spark and started to attack a little bit .”

The Bulldogs will hope to avenge a 5-0 loss in last year’s title game to top-ranked unbeaten Exeter, which is riding a 42-game winning streak after Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Bishop Guertin in the other semifinal.

But they will worry about that in the next day or so. Even the goal on Wednesday wasn’t supposed to be a goal, as the junior Campbell, from the right side, wanted to actually set up a teammate.

“I was trying to get it in the box for one of my teammates to get it in,” she said. “But I hit a long ball and it ended up in the far corner.”

It boomed to the far side over the head and reach of Astros netminder Samantha Mitchell (two saves). What made it tough for No. 2 Pinkerton (15-3-1) is the fact it was without one of its best offensive players, Katyann Grochmal. Grochmal suffered a concussion in the quarterfinals.

“That was tough,” Astros coach Steve Gundrum said. “We played a helluva first half. Second half, we were a little tired. There was nothing my keeper could do, that was a beautiful shot.”

Both teams had chances in the first half and early in the second. Early in the first half, Mitchell robbed Bedford’s Johnanna Celli with a sliding stop, and the Bulldogs’ Seana Gosselin shot one wide and was thwarted by Pinkerton defenders on a couple of break-ins.

Meanwhile, in the second half, after Bedford keeper Brooke Barrett made one of her six stops on the Astros’ Erica Parent. Soon after Campbell scored, and it’s final time again for the Bulldogs. This time, they hope for a different result.

“I’m very excited for it, she said. “We’re ready this year.”