EXETER — For a second straight year, Pinkerton is heading to the New Hampshire Division 1 state championship game.
Regulation didn’t yield enough time to decide this one, as the second-seeded Astros defeated third-seeded Salem 3-2 in overtime in last night’s semifinal field hockey matchup at Exeter High’s Bill Ball Stadium.
It was a gutty and exhausting win for Pinkerton. Even the game’s hero, senior Julie Saltamartini, was almost completely winded by game’s end.
“Well, I was really tired and kind of wanted to be done with the game,” said Saltamartini, a returning Eagle-Tribune All-Star.
Just over eight minutes into overtime, Saltamartini broke away from the Salem defense and ran down the left side of the field. Elizabeth Tveter Collins ended up with the ball and sent it Saltamartini’s way. Saltamartini then ran about 15 yards and netted the game-winner.
“My team did an amazing job. They got the ball to me and I just finished,” said Saltamartini, who scored twice, giving her 19 goals on the year. “I didn’t look at the goalie. That’s the main thing I don’t do. I don’t look at the goalie. I psych myself out every time.”
The defending champion Astros stormed the field in celebration, which they hope to do again on Sunday.
They’ll be taking on Exeter, who defeated previously-unbeaten Winnacunnet 3-2 in the late game. Earlier this month, Pinkerton beat Exeter 5-2. They’ll play at Bedford High at 5 p.m.
“It’s a lot of pressure but it’s a lot of fun,” said third-year Pinkerton head coach Jen Resmini when asked about repeating. “This is our ultimate goal. We’re going to be playing on the last day. That’s a good feeling.”
As for Salem, they suffered a semifinal tourney exit for a second straight season. It was their second loss of the year to Pinkerton, which beat the Blue Devils 1-0 on Sept. 21.
Last night, the Blue Devils came out of the gate and scored first on a Rachael Denning goal 18 minutes into the game. Pinkerton answered with 2:30 left in the first half on an Erin Johnston goal.
In the second half, Saltamartini scored 10 minutes in to give Pinkerton a 2-1 lead. Salem continued to fight and claw before Mikaela Gauvain tied it at 2-2 with 5:20 left in regulation.
“I was not mentally prepared for this to be my last day of field hockey ever,” said Saltamartini. “I am really happy I have practice tomorrow afternoon.”
Pinkerton 3, Salem 2 (OT)
N.H. Division 1 Semifinal
Goals: S — Rachael Denning, Mikaela Gauvain; P — Julie Saltamartini 2, Erin Johnston
Assists: P — Elizabeth Tveter Collins
Saves: S — Meaghan Williams 7; P — Jordan Dudley 6
Pinkerton (15-1): 1 1 1 — 3
Salem (13-3): 1 1 0 — 2
Last year Julie Saltamartini also scored the game-winner in overtime in the semifinals. The opponent? Exeter, who the Astros will play Sunday in the title game.