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Portsmouth's Charley Prevost, is pursued by Bedford's Kelsey Linehan, during the NHIAA Division I semifinals held at Southern New Hampshire University on Saturday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader))

NHIAA Girls' Lacrosse: Eaton wins it for Portsmouth

MANCHESTER- Olivia Eaton's goal with 38.8 seconds remaining was the final blow for Portsmouth in a back-and-forth slugfest with Bedford.

The Portsmouth senior netted her third goal of the game to give the No. 2 Clippers a 13-12 win over No. 3 Bedford in NHIAA girls' Division II lacrosse semifinal action at Southern New Hampshire University Saturday.

Portsmouth will face top-ranked Hanover Tuesday at 5 p.m. at SNHU for the DII title.

Saturday's semifinal featured nine ties and nine lead changes before Portsmouth (18-2) had the final say. Bedford won a 20-18 barn-burner in the regular season.

"They're a strong team and well-coached so we knew it was going to be tight," said Portsmouth head coach Mary Squire. "It was a game of possession, which we weren't able to execute on and I think we got lucky that last three minutes to be able to be the one to come up on top."

The game was tied with 2:09 remaining when Clippers senior Emily Whitney scored to make it 12-11 Portsmouth. But Bedford (14-4) came right back to tie it on a goal from junior Drew Shapiro with 1:39 to go before Eaton came up with the winner.

Squire said that her squad has three go-to players, Eaton, Whitney (five goals, assist) and Devon Parker (goal), and all they needed was for one of them to come through.

"We want the ball in (Eaton's) hands. We want the ball in Emily's hands, we want it in Devon's hands. They're great shooters, they know where to look, they know how to drive," Squire said. "It was a good take and all three of those girls are hungry and they came up short last year so they're determined."

Bedford had a chance late, but turned the ball over and Portsmouth ran out the clock.

A wide-open first half saw both teams post two-goal leads before the game settled into a 7-7 halftime tie. The 90-degree heat forced a deliberate pace in the second half that helped Portsmouth slow the attacking Bedford offense while also earning some rest for players away from the ball.

"We weren't' trying to run and gun with them," Squire said. "We were definitely just trying to take control of the game at that point and I think that worked pretty well to our advantage because they continued to run and gun and our defense ate it up a few times and that was really the difference."

Bedford coach Christine Hodgdon praised Squire's coaching choice.

"I think they knew it was getting close to the end and it was a smart play by Mary," Hodgdon said. "They wanted to save their (midfielders) and slow the ball down and buy a couple minutes. (That was) the way they were going to rest their middies. I don't think it was a change of plan, I just think it was the heat."

Portsmouth got two goals each from Lizzy Rice and Kaitlyn Finneral to add to the offense. Clippers goalie Ashley Linane stopped eight shots.

Bedford was led by Shapiro (four goals) and senior Alexandria Fink (three goals).

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