By Jeff Hamrick firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — EXETER, N.H. – While her blasts might not have been as prodigious as those of Pablo Sandoval’s, Emily Crocetti pulled off a trifecta of her own last night.
Unlike San Francisco’s World Series hero, however, the Londonderry sophomore didn’t receive the needed support for postseason success.
Crocetti’s three goals were not enough as Bedford scored twice in the final four minutes, including the game winner with 32 seconds remaining, for a 4-3 victory in the Division 1 soccer semifinals at Exeter High School. The third-seeded Bulldogs, who dropped a 3-1 regular-season encounter with Londonderry, advance to Saturday’s state championship against top-seeded Exeter.
“We were (four) minutes away from a victory and then less than a minute away from extra time,” Londonderry coach Derek Dane said. “We couldn’t get either of them.”
The second-seeded Lancers, who had won 15 of 16 since a season-opening loss to Exeter, grabbed the lead with 30 minutes remaining thanks to Crocetti, but a late flourish of two goals by Jessica Joseph proved to be the game winners.
“It didn’t seem like it really happened,” Crocetti said about Bedford’s rally.
Crocetti’s two first-half goals came off a pair of slick leading passes. On the first, Crocetti took a beautiful feed from Lydia Simmons before splitting defenders and beating the Bedford goalie who came out of the net. The second was set up on a pass by Kayleen Walberg that resulted in a 2-0 lead midway through the frame.
Her final goal was a power blast from about 20 yards out that found the right side of the net and gave the Lancers a 3-2 advantage.
“There was hope and excitement because we were in the lead again,” said Crocetti, who also had a goal in Londonderry’s quarterfinal victory over Timberlane. “We thought we had a good chance to win the game.”
Londonderry’s season ended with a semifinal loss for the third time in four seasons.
“It was a phenomenal season,” said Dane, whose squad lost in the 2010 championship tilt the one year it didn’t lose a semi. “We scored (81) goals in 18 games, so it was a fantastic season. We came into the season with a plan and stuck to that plan.”
With only four graduating seniors, including Lydia Simmons, one of the top players in the country, the Lancers have plenty back for another title run next year.
“You can’t replace Lydia that easily, but we have 15 quality girls coming back next year. We’ll take a day or so and lick our wounds then next week figure out what we’re going to do in the springtime and get back at it next summer.
Dane actually wore a conehead throughout the game.
“It’s Halloween,” he said. “I figured I wasn’t at my house handing out candy so I thought I could be here and add some levity to it.”
Bedford 4, Londonderry 3
N.H. Division 1 semifinals
Goals: B — Jessica Joseph 2, Johanna Celli, Jeannette Mara; L — Emily Crocetti 3
Assists: B — None; L — Lydia Simmons 2, Kayleen Walberg
Saves: B — Brooke Barrett 8; L — Merissa Brousseau 4
Bedford (14-3-2): 1 3 — 4
Londonderry (15-3): 2 1 — 3