The Londonderry High field hockey squad’s 1-0 overtime victory over the arch-rival Pinkerton Academy Lady Astros in Mack Plaque play on Sept. 24 was the topic of plenty of conversation in the two schools in the aftermath of that contest.
In Derry, the academy folks had some reasons for frustration and consternation due to the fact that a major penalty late in regulation time had left their squad a player down when the winning goal was scored. In the Londonderry camp, the topic of conversation was the fact that the Lady Lancers had bested Pinkerton in overtime in two consecutive Mack Plaque battles.
So that was the ground on which the rival contingents met for a Division I quarterfinal-round tournament match at LHS last Friday, Oct. 21, with Londonderry ranked fourth with its 10-3-1 record and four straight victories and Pinkerton seeded fifth at 10-4.
Once again, there was only one goal scored between the two teams with all the proverbial chips on the table, but this time it was Pinkerton bagging the lone marker 8:11 into the second half as it claimed a 1-0 win to advance to the D-I semifinals at Exeter High School against top-seeded Winnacunnet of Hampton Tuesday night, Oct. 25.
Londonderry goalie Danielle Ziv was the big story for her side, turning aside seven Pinkerton shots in the scoreless first half, with some of the stops coming on point-blank tries by the Lady Astros. The score was deadlocked at 0-0 at the break, but it could have been 2-0 or even 3-0 were it not for Ziv.
The Lady Lancers would get a total of two shots on Pinkerton keeper Khaliyah Ellis – one in each half – but the Lady Astro goalie blocked both to help her squad to its fifth shutout of the campaign.
Pinkerton got the goal it ended up needing to win the match 8:11 after play resumed in the second half when versatile freshman Kate Bennett rapped a loose ball home from in tight on LHS goalie Ziv.
“She’s been a sparkplug,” said Pinkerton first-year varsity coach Katie Van Nostrand of Bennett. “She’s the spice on the front line. She works so, so hard. She’ll run through a wall. I’m happy with her performance, obviously.”
At the other end of the field, Lady Lancers’ veteran coach Laura Federico was less pleased with the effort of her charges in their final match of an otherwise extremely strong 2016 season.
“They were just a very well-coached team, and they played well and we didn’t,” said Federico. “But never in my wildest dreams would I have thought in August that we would have been here. We had big losses to graduation and injuries during the season, but this is a great group of girls and they did great.”
LHS player Maeve McPhail tries to make progress up the field against Pinkerton.
Lady Lancer field hockey player Caroline Russell battles a PA player for the ball during the tourney match between the rivals. Photo by Chris Paul