Pinkerton Astros Boys Lacrosse '18

Sat, Jun 09, 2018 07:30 PM @ Neutral Location
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
Pinkerton 3 3 3 2 11
Bishop Guertin 1 1 6 1 9

Valentine, Pinkerton surge to Division 1 state title

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Saturday, June, 09 By David Willis
Staff writer

EXETER, N.H. — Christopher Valentine’s spring began in devastating fashion, with the broken thumb that initially seemed would end his senior season.

Two months later, with the state title on the line, Valentine became a hero.

With Pinkerton in desperate need of a spark with Bishop Guertin on the verge of taking control, the senior attackman struck for two crucial goals in the final moments of the third.

It was all Astros from there, as No. 2 Pinkerton defeated top-seeded, undefeated Bishop Guertin 11-9 in the New Hampshire Division 1 state championship game on Saturday night at Bill Ball Stadium.

“This is amazing!” said Valentine. “I don’t know how to react. After breaking my thumb, to come back like this is unbelievable. When the final buzzer sounded, I didn’t know what to do. I’m on top of the world!”

The title is the first for Pinkerton since 2015, when it beat Bishop Guertin 9-7. The archrivals had faced off for the title each of the last six season, with the Cardinals winning four.

“It’s definitely sweeter against BG,” said goalie Alex Sturgess. “This feels so great, knowing my senior season came together so perfectly. We were able to come here and do our job. It’s the perfect way to end it. We wanted this so much, and we came out and did it. It’s just perfect.”

With the game hanging in the balance, it was Valentine — with a massive cast on his left hand — that stepped up as the unlikely hero.

It was on April 12 of this spring, on the same Exeter field, that Valentine’s season seemed to end when he suffered a broken left thumb that required surgery and a pin inserted.

“I thought my season was over,” said Valentine, who also missed all but two games of the football season because of a knee injury. “I thought I was done. But the doctor let me play one regular season game, and I shifted my thumb again. So it has been rough.”

But as the postseason arrived, and he returned to action, Valentine had the feeling that something special was brewing.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I knew we were going to go out with a bang.”

Pinkerton opened Saturday’s title game in dominant fashion, leading 6-2 at halftime.

But powerhouse Bishop Guertin stormed back. With 3:08 left in the third, the Cardinals had tied it 7-7, and seemed to be finding their dominant form.

That, however, was when Valentine struck.

“I knew I wasn’t going down without a fight,” he said. “I wasn’t going to lose senior year. I looked at the score and said, ‘We have to do something.’ It was our time. I knew going up two goals it was over. I knew we had it from there. I knew we were going to win.”

With 1:36 left in the third, Valentine picked up the ball, shook a few defenders and fired it home to give the Astros back the lead.

Then, with just 0:22 left in the quarter, Valentine hauled in a pass from Ryan Auger and blasted a shot in to make it 9-7. From there, Pinkerton was rolling.

“Chris is a captain who has been a four-year varsity player,” said Astros coach Brian O’Reilly. “It was very big to get him back for the postseason. It’s been a tough senior year for Chris. But this is how it ends.”

Bishop Guertin cut the lead to one, but goals by Owen McCormack and Chad Teresky proved plenty of insurance.

As the final buzzer sounded, the Astros went wild, throwing their gear into the air to celebrate the victory.

“It feels so amazing,” said senior Thomas Sweeney, who had a goal and an assist. “We grinded so hard all season to be here. We had one goal set in our mind, and we did it.

“We wanted this so much. It took a lot of heart. After losing the last two seasons, we wanted to do it for these guys. We had the determination. We kept that goal in mind, we came out and we did what we had to do. Now we’re bringing the championship back to Pinkerton.”

One of the most emotional after the victory was Sturgess, who made 12 often crucial goals. He led a defense that limited University of North Carolina-bound Brian Cameron to just a single goal.

“He’s the best goalie in the state, mark my word,” said Valentine. “I’m honored that we’ll be playing together in college at Southern New Hampshire.”

As the celebration roared on, Sturgess climbed the fence to share hugs and tears with fans.

“It’s so sweet,” said Sturgess. “To be able to come out here and end it on this note is amazing. We won the state title. It’s the greatest feeling I’ve ever felt. There’s nothing like it.”

Game Statistics:

NH Division 1 Finals

Goals: P — Christopher Valentine 3, Chad Teresky 3, Thomas Sweeney, Ryan Auger, Mason Drouin 2, Owen McCormack; BG — Sam Prunier 2, Cam Fagan, Ben Abladian, Joe Lupo, Sean Cameron 2, Brian Cameron, Jack Johansen

Assists: P — Owen McCormack 2, Sweeney, Auger,, Teresky, Valentine; BG — Kyle Fisher 2, Drew Hailey, Brennan McInnis

Saves: P — Alex Sturgess 12; BG — James Heitmiller 8

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