EXETER — Julie Saltamartini’s breakaway goal in the eighth minute of overtime lifted second seed Pinkerton Academy of Derry to a 3-2 victory over third-seeded Salem in a Division I field hockey semifinal on Thursday at Bill Ball Stadium.
The defending champion Astros will play the winner of Tuesday’s later game between top-seeded Winnacunnet of Hampton and fourth-seeded Exeter in Sunday’s state final at Bedford High. Game time is 5 p.m.
Salem controlled the play early, keeping the ball in the Pinkerton end. The Astros committing several fouls in the penalty area giving Salem several corners.
At the 18th minute of the first half, Rachel Denning put a sharp angle shot past Jordan Dudley to put the Blue Devils up 1-0.
But the momentum shifted the Astros’ way late in the opening period, especially in the final three minutes, when Pinkerton started getting the penalty corners. Off the fifth corner play, a shot by Saltamartini got behind Salem goalie Meaghan Williams. Erin Johnston supplied the finishing touch, scoring from inches away to tie the game 1-1 at the half.
In 10th minute of the second half, Saltamartimi got the ball off a rebound five yards in front of the Salem keeper and scored to make it 2-1.
The Blue Devils started playing with more urgency and getting more scoring chances. Several shots were close calls including one that just rolled past the goal post with about 10 minutes left.
But persistence paid off with 5:29 left. A shot from Erika Smith was deflected by Amanda Travelini and regulation time ended with the game tied, 2-2.
In overtime, Salem came out with the same urgency and got pressure in the Astros zone, but it cost them when an outlet pass came to Liz Tveter-Collins.
With room to move she fed the ball up to Saltamartini, who deked the last Salem defender and beat the Salem goalie for the game winner.
“It was a perfect pass” said Saltamartini about the feed from Tveter-Collins. “I’m pretty bad on defense but dribbling in space, that’s my thing.”
No. 4 Exeter advanced to the final by beating Winnnacunnet of Hampton, 3-2.
Jordan Teixeira had two goals and Erin McKenna had the game-winner.
Pinkerton coach Jen Resmini is eager for the chance to repeat as champs.
“We have many new girls in the program. It’s something I hope they can experience.”