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NHIAA Boys' Soccer: Pembroke tips Stark in top-tier battle

Special to the Union Leader

October 18. 2017 1:03AM

PEMBROKE — Senior All-State midfielder Damon Smith scored twice in the first half and Pembroke Academy held off visiting John Stark of Weare for a 2-1 victory in a top-tier Division II soccer match Tuesday.

Smith first scored on a penalty kick in the 18th minute. His decisive second goal came with 8:37 remaining in the first half. After gaining control 15 yards out, Smith spun away from the nearest defender and quickly got off a liner that found all net.

John Stark had been outplayed in the first 20 minutes of the first half, but was beginning to assert itself when Smith doubled Pembroke’s lead.

The Generals answered and cut the lead to 2-1 90 seconds before the half ended. Evan Caswell dribbled down the right flank and sent a hard cross into the 18-yard box that struck Pembroke back Justin Smith and caromed past keeper Ty Smith.

Both teams had quality chances in the first half that were not put on frame. Smith needed to make only one save in the first 40 minutes despite five John Stark attempts. He totaled four saves.

Generals netminder Chase Patterson had two saves — one in each half.

John Stark earned seven corner kicks, including three in the final 25 minutes when the Generals kept the Spartans busy protecting their one-goal lead.

“It was two different halves,” John Stark coach Jeff Vogt said. “The last fifteen minutes of the first half were OK and then in the second half, we started to step up and pressure them. We gave them too much time before that. We did some early chasing.”

“We got a little out of our game,” Pembroke coach Pete Bisson admitted. “It was nip and tuck for a while. No one wants to make a mistake.”

Ty Smith stopped a hard shot in the final minute to preserve the win for the Spartans, who improved to 13-1-1.

John Stark fell to 9-5-1.

The Generals host Trinity Thursday at 4 p.m.

“Jake Reynolds played well, our backs did a good job and Aaron Robertson was physical in the midfield,” coach Vogt said. “They’re (Pembroke) a very good team. We can play with anyone. We just beat Bow 1-0. I’d rather have this kind of game than a blowout before the tournament.”

Bisson agreed. “It’s a good way to get ready for the playoffs,” he said. “I like the way we played.”

Pembroke honored nine seniors at its last regular season game: Ty Smith, Justin Smith, Patrick Chase, Kobie Valdes, Damon Smith, Arpin Kakadia, Andrew Nedeau, Matt Ferguson and Jackson Putnam.

Pembroke finishes the regular season against Souhegan in Amherst on Thursday at 6 p.m.