PA Boys’ Soccer Snags Big Upsets, Bags D-I Championship

No matter what the odds were, no matter who predicted what outcome, and no matter who stood in the way, the Pinkerton Academy boys’ soccer squad had a singular vision and reached its lofty goal this fall.

Coach Kerry Boles’ seventh-ranked Astro booters disposed of the 10th-seeded Bedford High Bulldogs in the first round of the 2014 Division I tournament, and then notched upset victories of number two Alvirne of Hudson in the quarterfinals, number three Hanover in the semifinals, and finally top-seeded Manchester Central in the championship match at Southern New Hampshire University Saturday evening, Nov. 8.

Boles had no trouble finding parallels between his 2014 title-winning team and his 2010 crew, which also upset favored Manchester Central in a championship game.

“What an incredible run these guys have been on for the past couple of weeks,” said Boles following the dramatic penalty-kick victory over Hanover. “I am so proud of their accomplishments, their drive, their work ethic, and their attitude. No one mentioned Pinkerton as a contender at the start of the season, but we believed we could do this.”

The PA boys’ soccer team upset top-seeded Manchester Central for the D-I championship. Photos by Chris Paul
The PA boys’ soccer team upset top-seeded Manchester Central for the D-I championship. Photos by Chris Paul

And the best will still come against that Central Little Green in the Pinkerton team’s seventh title-game appearance in Boles’ 23 years at his post.

Pinkerton and Central had deadlocked at 1-1 during their regular-season meeting. But the Astros found their way around the tough opponent in the title contest when Colin Coutts scored the game-winning goal – busting another 1-1 tie – with 10 minutes left in regulation time.

The locals had snagged a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes remaining in the first half when Kyle Hicks headed home a corner kick from Alex Ebner.

Central knotted the score at 1-1 on a penalty kick just two minutes later, and the score sat right there at 1-1 at halftime.

PA goalie Hayden Pavao ended up making three saves his contribution to the huge championship win.

After unexpectedly ending the 2014 campaign of the second-seeded Alvirne High bunch in Hudson in quarterfinal-round tournament play, the Astros also snagged an upset win over the third-ranked Hanover High Marauders – the defending Division I champions – in semifinal-round action at Exeter High School on Wednesday night, Nov. 5.

That incredibly intense match went all the way to penalty kicks, and the Astros decided the matter by having all four of their shooters score on their penalty kicks.

Hanover had bested Pinkerton by a 2-1 tally in their regular-season match in Derry on Oct. 10, and 2-1 would wind up being the academy crew’s winning score after the penalty kicks busted a 1-1 tie.

The Astros bagged their regulation-time goal with 11:50 remaining in the first half on a successful shot by veteran standout Hicks.

It took the Marauders quite some time to get the equalizer, but get it they did in the 60th minute when top scorer Asa Berolzheimer tallied.

The teams then played through a pair of 10-minute, golden-goal overtime stanzas without the score changing, which necessitated penalty kicks.

Pinkerton goalie Pavao refused to allow two of the four penalty kicks Hanover attempted to get by him, but PA shooters Hicks, Chris Ronan, Alex Ebner, and Colin Coutts all buried their penalty kicks behind Marauders’ goalie Konrad Mitchell to give their side the victory.

The Astros’ defensive crew of Matt O’Brien, Sean Muller, Sean Donohue, and Stuart Graves helped keeper Pavao hold Hanover to just the one goal in regulation time and overtime, and Boles was left with plenty  to be proud of his charges.

The Pinkerton squad’s chances of upending top-seeded Central in the championship game were seen by many as a long shot. But the academy side did the same sort of intense, team-oriented work that got it past Alvirne and Hanover in those earlier rounds, and the D-I title headed back to Derry following a four-year absence.