BEDFORD — Merrimack surged with three goals in the final minute of play, but Bedford had built a lead that was ultimately too much to overcome.
No. 3 Bedford knocked off six seed Merrimack 13-11 in NHIAA girls’ Division II lacrosse quarterfinals play Wednesday.
Bedford (14-3) will face No. 2 Portsmouth (17-2) which was a 19-5 winner over St. Thomas of Dover, on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Southern New Hampshire University.
“They’re going to be out to get us since we snuck an early one against them earlier in the season,” Bedford head coach Christine Hodgdon said of a 20-18 Bulldogs win on April 11. “That was a close game and I’m expecting the same on Saturday.”
In Wednesday’s quarterfinal, Merrimack refused to go away. trailing 6-3 to open the second half, the Tomahawks got a goal from junior Courtney Duffy just 23 seconds in to make it 6-4.
“That’s who they are. They’re a good team and they never give up,” Hodgdon said. “They’re very scrappy.”
Bedford was able to slowly build its lead to 12-7, with two quick-strikes coming from senior captain Alexandria Fink off feeds from classmate Lindsey Sullivan 12:39 and 13:26 and pushing the lead to five goals.
“Our transition game was pretty unsettled all game, so we were lucky to have that early lead to be able to provide that little bit of cushion to give us the confidence to keep pushing,” Hodgdon said.
The score stood at 13-8 heading into the final minute. Merrimack sophomore Jenny Mulligan scored with 40 seconds remaining and sophomore Julia Perry scored with 16 seconds and then 10 seconds to go to account for the final Tomahawks (7-8) surge.
“We were expecting that. Julia Perry is an explosive kind of player and we know that she’s going to try and take it to us,” Hodgdon said. “We weren’t surprised by that.”
Drew Shapiro led the Bedford scoring with four goals and an assist. Kelsey Linehan scored three goals and Sullivan recorded five assists.
In goal, Bedford junior goalie Ashley Maddox made 10 saves to keep the Bulldogs on top with several timely stops.
“Ashley Maddox has been key for us all season,” Hodgdon said. “In the big games, she’s shown up consistently.”
Merrimack was led by Perry’s three goals. Amanda Dionne added two goals and an assist, Amber Olson scored twice and Maegan Howe had two assists.