Consecutive victories over a weak Merrimack team and then a strong Pinkerton Academy crew – in Mack Plaque play no less – left the Londonderry High girls’ soccer squad contemplating its four-game winning streak and 6-2 record at the end of last week.
The Lady Lancers gottheir third consecutive victory and made their season record 5-2 with a 7-0 mauling of Merrimack at LHS Tuesday, Sept. 20.
The hosts scored five of their goals in the first half with five different players banging home shots. They came, in order, from Erin Barnes (assist from Hailey Laliberte), Olivia Stowell (from Sarah Desmarais), Gretchen McGrath (from Stowell), Desmarais (from Stowell), and Sammy LeClair (from Emmy Dumaresq).
The Lady Lancers’ lead then bulged to 7-0, thanks to second-half markers from Darby Dupuis (assist from Kat Rivard) and Stowell again (from Dumaresq).
The dominant victors pounded 33 shots on the Merrimack net, while Lancers’ goalie Ryann Boudreau made seven saves her contribution to the noteworthy success.
Then came the much-anticipated Mack Plaque match-up – and the rematch of the 2015 Division I title game – with the defending D-I champions from Pinkerton last Saturday, Sept. 24. Both teams entered the Mack match with 5-2 records, and with eight of their last nine meetings having been decided by a single goal, that kind of outcome was expected again.
A one-goal game was the outcome of the 2016 Mack battle, with the Lady Lancers potting the one and only marker with exactly two minutes remaining in regulation time when junior Erin Barnes was set up by her younger sister – freshman Gwen Barnes – for the winning tally.
Gwen zipped the ball to her sibling in the high slot in front of the Pinkerton cage, and the elder Barnes thumped a shot into the lower-left corner of the rival net to send her squad into celebration mode. The victorious hosts ended up getting nine saves from goalie Boudreau in their fourth shutout of the 2016 campaign.
Coach Derek Dane said that his youthful LHS squad struggled with nerves some in front of the big Mack Plaque crowd before finding its composure and playing far better in the second half.
“We just took too long to settle down, and I think that’s the toughest part of hosting a Mack Plaque game,” said Dane. “We’re young, and I think we have six or eight girls who’ve never played in a Mack Plaque match. But if we maintain our composure against anybody, we’re fine.”
Lady Lancer Erin Barnes drives her way to the winning goal in her team’s Mack Plaque victory over Pinkerton last weekend. Photo by Chris Paul