Coach Rob Daziel’s Pinkerton Academy girls’ lacrosse team is the two-time defending Division I champion, having beaten the tough Souhegan High Lady Sabers from Amherst by small margins in the D-I title matches each of the last two springs.
Daziel and his charges know that a three-peat will be anything but easy this spring. But after its first official match of the new season, the academy bunch looks to be on the right track.
The Lady Astros suffered significant losses to graduation after their great 2014 campaign, but University of Delaware-bound star senior midfielder and tri-captain Maggie McCarthy is back this season after netting 62 goals during the title campaign last spring. And she looks to be a focal point of the PA offense.
Other returning starters include senior attacks Amanda Szostak and Micaela Capozzo, senior defender Kristen Sobolewski, and junior middie Ali Davis.
Capozzo – who is committed to attending Gannon University in Erie, Pa. – is also a captain along with Szostak. Capozzo potted 15 goals last season.
Other returning letter-winners with varsity experience are seniors Colby Millsaps (attack), Melanie George (defense), and Morgan Hazelton (defense); juniors Kyra Goucher (goalie), Nola Wesche (attack), and Ariel Vaillancourt (middie), and sophomores Danielle Thompkins (attack), Avery Drouin (middie), and Emily Sharretts (defense).
The defending champs’ list of newcomers includes seniors Jacqueline Tarsook (goalie), Kelsey Flannery (attack), and Morgan Donahue (attack), sophomore Megan Jarvis (middie), and freshmen Carly Young (defense) and Britney Johnson (middie).
“With only five returning starters, it’s important for us to develop as a team early in the season,” said Daziel. “We have different strengths this year that we need to develop and capitalize on throughout the season.”
And when looking at what Division I is shaping up like this spring, Daziel stated, “With the addition of Bedford and Bishop Guertin to D-I, that will make the division more competitive. Londonderry, Exeter, and Souhegan will be tough teams, and I expect Concord will be stronger this year as well.”
After having their season-opening match against Merrimack postponed from Monday, April 13, to Thursday, April 16, the Astros were more than ready to get rolling.
But first the team traveled just over the New Hampshire border to take on the North Andover (Mass.) High School squad Wednesday, April 15. The result in that official season-opener was an 11-7 loss to the Bay State bunch.
The hosts led 7-3 at halftime, and both sides scored four goals during the second half.
Pinkerton received a four-point effort from Capozzo (two goals, two assists), two tallies from Dani Tompkins, and single markers from Davis, McCarthy, and Szostak.
But the Lady Astros got their 2015 Division I campaign started in style against Merrimack back in Derry the next day, handing the visiting Lady Tomahawks a 13-7 throttling.
The hosts hammered their way out to a 6-0 lead and were up by a 10-2 tally at halftime. They were outscored by their guests by a 5-3 margin in the second half, but a full-fledged Merrimack comeback wasn’t in the offing.
McCarthy potted four goals for the victors, Drouin contributed three goals and one assist, Wesche was good for two goals and a helper, Millsaps handed out three assists, Capozzo scored twice, and Szostak and Davis each managed a goal and a helper.
Kyra Goucher made five saves in the PA net in the first half and Jackie Tarsook stopped three blasts in the second half.
And the Pinkerton crew had no trouble vanquishing the visiting Nashua South Lady Purple Panthers in Derry the next afternoon, pounding that opponent by a 19-1 tally.
The hosts potted 10 of the 11 goals scored in the first half, and then bagged nine unanswered markers in the second half.
Davis led the Pinkerton charge by scoring four goals and assisting on two others, McCarthy was good for five points on four goals and one assist, Tompkins scored three times, Szostak tallied twice and assisted twice, Millsaps scored once and snared three assists, Capozzo and Wesche were both good for a goal and two helpers, and Megan Jarvis, Vaillancourt, and Morgan Donahue each scored once.
And veteran McCarthy led her Lady Astros to their third win in four games in rainy conditions at Bedford High School on Monday, April 20, tallying 11 points in a 15-6 throttling of the host Lady Bulldogs.
Pinkerton led 7-4 at halftime and then outscored its host by an 8-2 margin in the second half to bag the win.
McCarthy scored seven goals and assisted on four others, and Davis was good for two goals and three helpers. Drouin contributed two goals and two assists, Szostak notched two goals and one helper, Tompkins tallied twice, and Capozzo netted one goal. Goalie Goucher turned aside four Bedford shots in making her contribution to the effort .
“Maggie (McCarthy) had two goals in the first half, then scored the first two of the second half, and then assisted on the next two goals by Davis and Drouin,” said Daziel. “Dani Tompkins scored, and then Maggie scored the next three. Maggie took control of the game in the second half.