Pinkerton Astros Girls Soccer '07

Tue, Oct 30, 2007 06:30 PM @ Manchester Memorial
Team 1st 2nd Final
Playoff Game
Pinkerton 0 2 2
Manchester Memorial 1 0 1

Pinkerton's dream run continues

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Wednesday, October, 31 By Ryan Lambert
Staff writer

For six games this year, Pinkerton's Bree Robinson sat on the bench, anxious and uncomfortable.

An ankle injury had sidelined the star forward who, at the time, was the Astros' leading scorer. But she returned to the lineup fulltime just before eighth-seeded Pinkerton went into the Class L playoffs, and she's already paying big dividends.

She's scored a goal in each of the last two games, including the game-winner in the 75th minute of last night's 2-1 win over No. 5 Manchester Memorial.

The goal, a quick shot from just outside the 6-yard box that beat Memorial keeper Kelsey Isham to the lower right corner of the net, propelled her Astros to the Class L final against defending champion Exeter, who beat Londonderry, 1-0, in the early game.

"We went in higher than them," said Robinson, who now has 13 goals on the year. "They were thinking we're the eighth-place team, they played us before (Memorial won 4-3 on Sept. 4), they've beaten us by a lot, but we just came in very confident and knowing we wanted to win it more than them."

That underdog mentality is one that's been fostered by Astros coach Ken Najem, who has led one of the most inexperienced teams in Class L to the state final.

"We're a young team and we finally put it together," he said. "The inconsistency early in the year hurt us because we were young, but they've learned over the season and put it together and then put together three good games to get to the final.

"I've got two starters playing on the field from last year, Bree and Stephanie (Sayward). The rest were either JVs or subs last year. The girls have done a real good job and they're where they belong."

That inconsistency translated to the game, as Memorial was in control for much of the early going, and Kaleigh Roberge opened the scoring just six minutes into the game on a through pass from Kaitlyn Cook. Though Pinkerton mustered some late pressure, the score stood at 1-0 at halftime.

"I take total blame for that, I stepped into it," said Robinson, who will be playing at Division 1 Hartford next fall. "(After the goal) You could see that we were down a little. But at halftime coach and I and everyone else were trying to lift ourselves up ... to not make it to the point where we were down the whole game and show them we could lift up and win the game."

The pep talk must have worked, because the Astros came out of the locker room and dominated Memorial before Stephanie Sayward's long shot from 30 yards out caught Isham off her line and knotted the game in the 56th minute. "That first goal from Steph set us off," said Robinson. "It was amazing."

The game remained tight for the next 19 minutes but Robinson's goal was a gutshot to Memorial's confidence after they had cleared a pair of dangerous corners.

Now the Cinderella Astros are through to the finals, and as for that underdog, "no one believes in us" mindset? Najem will certainly keep promoting it. That might not be too difficult since No. 2 Exeter beat the Astros, 5-1, on Oct. 6.

Najem said, "But we lost to (top-seeded) Central and (Memorial) and we're a totally different team now. We're looking forward to the challenge."

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