SOMETIMES honesty trumps diplomacy.
Such was the case on Monday night after another hard-fought battle between NHIAA Division I boys’ lacrosse powers Bishop Guertin of Nashua and Pinkerton Academy of Derry. The Cardinals (9-0) got up 5-0 early and held off a late Astros’ (7-2) surge to emerge with a 14-11 win.
There was little talk of what might be. Instead, both coaches talked of the inevitable nature of yet another BG-Pinkerton state championship matchup on June 11.
“This win pretty much locks up the No. 1 seed for us. That’s our first goal was getting the one seed. The second goal is that we have Lasalle (Academy) of Rhode Island and Duxbury (Mass.) and that’s what we’re focusing on now,” BG coach Chris Cameron said. “But we’ve got to use those games to get better for that state championship on June 11. There’s some other really good teams in New Hampshire, but I’d be really surprised if we don’t see Pinkerton on June 11.”
Longtime Pinkerton coach Brian O’Reilly saw some symmetry between BG’s win on Monday and how things played out last season.
“We beat them last season in the regular season 14-11. They got us in the championship game. Now they got us,” O’Reilly said. “We were down 10-3 at halftime (Monday). They earned the win, but we’ll see what happens in June. We need to be there in the end, but we certainly plan on being there.”
Cameron said on Monday that he felt his players got overconfident when the Cardinals went ahead 5-0 to open the game. But knowing O’Reilly, Cameron knew Pinkerton would never quit.
“I think they did. I think they thought it was over,” Cameron said. “But Pinkerton, there’s no way. A coach O’Reilly team, they have so much pride. They play hard. There’s no way they were going to go away.”
Pinkerton slowly climbed back into the game on Monday and pulled within the three-goal final score, but Bishop Guertin was able to kill the clock, a skill the Cardinals have been honing against good out-of-state competition.
“We killed 4:10 against Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.) with a one-goal lead,” Cameron said. “When you have a three-goal lead it’s easier to kill the clock because it doesn’t burn you. But to kill it for four minutes and 10 seconds against a team like (Pinkerton)? From the first practice we started working on our kill because we knew we would need that at some point.”
Bishop Guertin has won four consecutive Division I titles and five of the last six. Three of those wins came over Pinkerton, which has not won the DI plaque since a run of three in a row from 2000 to 2002.
Other teams could very well have a say in the final standoff this year. And it’s impossible to predict what can happen to a team through the long season in terms of injuries or slumps. But it’s hard to ignore just how polished the BG and Pinkerton squads are, which makes another epic meeting feel like a sure thing come June 11.Windham Working Well: The Windham girls’ lacrosse team made the jump to Division II this season after owning Division III for the past two season, winning the state championship both times.
The move to DII has not slowed the Jaguars at all. Entering play Wednesday, Windham was 7-1 and scoring goals at will. Windham has posted offensive outputs of 19, 19, 21 and 22 and has not scored fewer than 12 goals all season.
That 12 goals came in Windham’s lone loss, which was at the hands of Division I leader Pinkerton (9-1). The Astros won 17-12, but Windham has served notice that it is a team to be reckoned with yet again despite moving up a level.Games to watch: Exeter (6-3) will state its case for breaking into the upper echelon of Division I when it plays at Pinkerton Tuesday in boys’ action.
A good Division II boys’ game is on tap for Tuesday when Goffstown (6-1) visits St. Thomas Aquinas of Dover (6-0). In Division III boys’ action, Plymouth (6-0) plays at Merrimack Valley (4-1) Tuesday.
In girls’ action, Division I contender Souhegan of Amherst (8-2) takes on Division II leader Bishop Guertin (7-0) Friday in Nashua.
Ian Clark covers high school lacrosse for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.