NASHUA — It’s a rematch in Division I.
Four-time defending NHIAA girls’ Division I soccer champion Exeter defeated No. 4 Bishop Guertin of Nashua 3-0 and No. 3 Bedford edged No. 2 Pinkerton Academy of Derry 1-0 in semifinal action at Stellos Stadium Wednesday night.
Exeter (18-0-0), which has won 42 games in a row and is ranked No. in the nation, will face Bedford (14-2-2) in the state title game Saturday at 6:15 p.m. at Southern New Hampshire University. Bedford lost to Exeter in last year’s championship.
The 1-0 win for Bedford reversed the regular season result that saw the Astros (14-3-1) earn a 1-0 win.
“We knew that coming in. It wasn’t going to be easy,” said Bedford coach Michelle Winning. “People started to look forward and I said ‘no, Pinkerton is going to be a tough, tough game.’ Both sides are bumped and bruised from it and that’s the way the playoffs should be.”
Junior Christina Campbell scored the only goal with 16:01 remaining in the game. She sent a long ball into the far corner of the net from the right side, driving the ball just over the leap of Pinkerton goalkeeper Samantha Mitchell.
“I was trying to get it in the box for one of my teammates to get it in,” Campbell said. “The long ball ended up in the corner. It was exciting.”
Pinkerton coach Steve Gundrum took the blame for the goal, saying that his defenders were tired and he did not substitute in time.
The Astros had some chances in the first half, but seemed to wear down as the game moved along. The Astros were also without top player Katyann Grochmal, who sat out with a concussion.
“I’m not making any excuses, but the best player on the field wasn’t out there tonight,” Gundrum said. “But I thought we played a hell of a first half. In the second half, we got a little tired. But it was still a back-and-forth affair.”
After an early push by Pinkerton to open the game, Bedford began to take control of the play and earn the better scoring chances. Still, the Bulldogs managed just the one goal, which has been a theme this year.
“That’s the story of our season. We create opportunities. A lot of our games have been 1-0 so we wouldn’t expect anything else,” Winning said. “You can’t get too frustrated. They’re working their hearts out.”
Bedford goalie Brooke Barrett made six saves to earn the shutout.