By Jeff Hamrick
---- — NASHUA — The soccer season finished on a sour note for the Pinkerton girls, but the young Astros see the chances of sweeter times ahead.
Second-seeded Pinkerton’s title hopes ended last night as No. 3 Bedford eked out a 1-0 victory in the Division 1 semifinal at Stellos Stadium.
“It was a heck of a game,” Pinkerton coach Steve Gundrum said of losing to the team his squad defeated by the same score less than a month ago. “It was a relatively even match. We scored on a corner kick on them late (in the regular-season victory); they scored on a beautiful shot late (yesterday). I’m not making any assumptions, but I think they could (win the title).”
Gundrum, however, couldn’t help but smile when asked what the future holds for his squad, which had four freshmen and three sophomores among the nine underclassmen starters.
“There’s a lot of optimism,” said Gundrum, in his third year with the school. “If you look who I had out there ... I’ve got eight kids who are freshmen and sophomores playing on the field most of the time.”
One of those sophomores is goalie Samantha Mitchell, who kept the Astros (13-3-1) in the game with two great saves. Midway through the first half, she made a diving stop to her left on a 15-yard attempt by Rachel Philbrick. Then early in the second, Mitchell, who had five total saves, had a tremendous sliding kick out of a try by Seana Gosselin from 12 yards out.
As far as the winning goal, Mitchell had no hope of stopping an arching 23-yard kick from the right hash mark by Christina Campbell, who found the upper left-hand corner of the net with 16 minutes remaining.
“They got the open shot and there was nothing my keeper could do about it,” Gundrum said. “That was a beautiful shot. We got a little tired, but it was still a back-and-forth affair. I’m going to blame myself for the goal only because my outside midfielder was exhausted, and I couldn’t get a sub in for her.”
Pinkerton, which opened the season with eight straight wins and held opponents to one goal or fewer 15 times, was without senior Katyann Grochmal. The team’s leading scorer, Grochmal, who scored the only goal in the regular-season match with Bedford (14-2-1), suffered a concussion in the Astros’ quarterfinal victory over Nashua North.
“I’m not making any excuses but the best player (of the two teams) wasn’t on the field tonight,” Gundrum said. “That was tough. She’s an all-state player, but she just wasn’t there. But I liked what I saw (early). The girls played a hell of a first half.”
The Astros controlled the tempo much of the opening 40 minutes, but were unable to put anything past Bedford goalie Brooke Barrett, who made four saves. It was more than enough to provide Campbell her surprising success.
“I was trying to get it into the box to one of my teammates to put it in,” Campbell said of her goal. “It ended up in the corner, so it was definitely exciting.”
Bedford 1, Pinkerton 0
Division 1 semifinal
Goals: B — Christina Campbell
Saves: B — Brooke Barrett 4; P — Samantha Mitchell 5
Bedford (14-2-2): 0 1 — 1
Pinkerton (13-3-1): 0 0 — 0