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NHIAA Field Hockey: Pinkerton presses on

By JOE DUBALL
New Hampshire Union Leader

October 22. 2017 2:03AM
Pinkerton Academy's Emma Davis shoots as Salem's Chloe Sicard tries to block during the first half of their Division I quarterfinal game at Pinkerton Academy in Derry on Saturday. Pinkerton won 4-0. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

DERRY - Playing forward and never turning back has been the ongoing theme for the Pinkerton Academy of Derry field hockey team this fall. The Astros seize possession and rarely get off the attack, which showed while outscoring opponents 41-3 during the regular season.

It doesn't appear much is going to change in this postseason for Pinkerton, which dropped Salem 4-0 in a Division I quarterfinal match on Saturday. The top-seeded Astros (14-1), who again dominated possession, scored a pair of goals in each half to help them advance to Wednesday's semifinals against No. 5 Londonderry at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter.

"We have an aggressive and competitive bunch of girls, but especially our front line," Pinkerton coach Courtney Van Nostrand said. "Our girls are very fast up there. We knew Salem transitions very quickly so we would have to be just as fast coming back at them. But it's what we've done all season, really."

Carly Young had the two second-half tallies for the Astros while Lauren Lisauskas and Emma Davis got things going with a goal apiece in the first half. After playing back-and-forth the first few minutes, Pinkerton finally began to pin Salem (9-6-1) down with constant pressure inside the circle. Lisauskas' goal in the 14th minute, which came on a 20-yard carry through the offensive zone, set the tone after Pinkerton came up empty on seven penalty corners in a five-minute span.

"It usually just takes that one for us and then it breaks apart," Van Nostrand said. "It was fantastic to have Lauren be the one to do it because she's always the one saying 'Let's go' and truly is one of the most energetic, excitable and contagious energies I've ever seen."

Pinkerton didn't necessarily take off from there as Davis' goal came 10 minutes later was all they could muster in the half despite generating 14 of 21 penalty corners over the first 30 minutes.

But while Pinkerton's offense didn't capitalize, ninth-seeded Salem didn't give itself a chance. Blue Devils coach John Gatsas admitted his team's pace was an issue while their youth was overmatched by the Astros' talent.

"Our plan was to clog the middle of the field and be aggressive," Gatsas said. "Sometimes we would plug the field without being aggressive and then we'd be aggressive but leave things open. They're a talented team that you can't give space and time to."

Despite a lack of offense, defensive adjustments helped Salem tame Pinkerton to start the second half. The stymie wouldn't last, though, as Carly Young scored twice in three minutes to put the game out of reach.

Young scored first with a booming penalty shot after a Salem defender dropped down to block a shot with her body instead of her stick on the goal line.

The next goal by Young came on another blistering shot on the weak side following a corner.

"She's been one of the go-throughs of our offense into the circle," said Van Ostrand of Young. "She's fast coming up that right side and feeds in well. They may not always turn into goals, but they are always strong and on the cage."

Winning and advancing is certainly nice, but Van Nostrand knows opportunities were left out there with only a pair of goals off the 21 penalty corners. As games get tighter and competition rises, the Astros will need to capitalize more.

"We're addressing it and they know," Van Nostrand said. "Earning all those chances is something but its not enough. They know it and at this point it's more just who wants to be the one to score and being a little bit selfish."

jduball@unionleader.com


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