Nails Get Gnawed, But PA Lady Laxers Hang on for Repeat

In the moments following his team’s harrowing, 13-12 edging of the top-seeded Souhegan High Lady Sabers of Amherst in the Division I girls’ lacrosse championship match at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday, June 10, Pinkerton Academy coach Rob Daziel heard more jibes like “Had it all the way” and “Need a few Rolaids?” than he’s likely to forget any time soon.

But then, there probably won’t be much that either Daziel or his Lady Astros will forget about the slim win that got them a second consecutive D-I title and nearly didn’t happen at all.

The second-seeded academy crew pounded its way out to a 9-3 halftime lead and grasped an eight-goal lead of 12-4 with 18:25 to go in regulation time.

But led by exceptional  senior attack Mickenzie Larivee (five goals and three assists), the Lady Sabers came flying back to get to within a single goal of Pinkerton at 13-12 with a little more than a minute to go in regulation time.

The Lady Astros pulled the fat out of the fire and claimed the win, despite the fact that  their fingernails were quite a bit shorter than they’d been at halftime.

“Souhegan played spectacularly well in the second half, but I knew the girls could hang on,” said Daziel following the match as his players and their friends and families began celebrating. “Three terms came to my mind when I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning, and they were ‘smart,’ ‘tough,’ and ‘from the heart.’ And those words describe this team.”

The Lady Astros’ top scorer with four goals in the huge match was SNHU-bound senior attack Kennedy Daziel, who also hit a noteworthy milestone when she potted her third tally of the night, which was the 200th of her PA career.

“Only she and two other players in program history – Meagan O’Reilly and Maura Murphy – have scored 200. And Kennedy is the first to achieve this milestone in only three varsity seasons,” said the proud dad/coach.

After seeing Pinkerton lose to Souhegan by a 14-13 tally in the final regular season match for both teams – with PA thus becoming the number two seed in the division – few folks thought that the first half of the title match would go as it did, with the Lady Astros powering their way to a 9-3 lead by the break. But that’s what happened.

The score was knotted up at 1-1 and 2-2, but soon thereafter coach Daziel’s dames turned a tight contest toward blowout status by potting five unanswered goals during the final 10:45 of the period.

And then, a mere 25 minutes worth of lacrosse away from their second straight championship, the locals drove their lead up to eight goals at 12-4 when Erin Coutts and Sierra Sanchez netted three consecutive goals – with Sanchez bagging two of them – in a four-minute span early in the second half.

Just about nobody could be blamed for thinking this match was pretty much over at that point, but Sabers’ star Larivee took her team upon her shoulders and led it to six straight goals during a span of nine minutes to place the score at 12-10 with more than enough time (8:47) showing on the game clock for the Souhegan team to pull out an epic comeback victory.

Pinkerton finally stopped the Lady Sabers’ momentum – at least momentarily – with 4:58 left when Micaela Capozzo was set up by Honorable Mention All-American Maggie McCarthy for the goal that pushed the PA lead back up to three goals at 13-10. But Souhegan answered with a tally a mere 43 seconds later to slice its deficit back down to two goals, and with 1:09 to go Larivee scored her fifth tally of the night to slide her side back to within a single goal at 13-12.

“On the subsequent draw, Ali Davis gained possession of the most important draw of the game, and we were able to run out the clock to hold on for our repeat championship,” said coach Daziel.

Along with Kennedy Daziel’s four scores, the reigning state champs got two goals and an assist apiece from McCarthy, Sanchez, and Capozzo, two goals from Coutts, a goal and two helpers from Aleah MacKay, and two assists from Amanda Szostak. Goalie Sarah Lambert contributed seven saves to the PA cause.

“Our defense was led by Jess Cote, Eva Murray, Sam Albano, Kristen Sobolewski, and Sarah Lambert,” said coach Daziel. “Sarah led the defense with two caused turnovers with her aggressive play, coming out of the net to disrupt several of Souhegan’s scoring opportunities.”