April lessons should pay dividends for Pinkerton boys

Apr. 25—DERRY, N.H. — As the most storied program in New Hampshire lacrosse history, with 22 state finals appearance and a dozen state titles, use of the word "rebuilding" around Pinkerton is frowned upon.

Coach Steve Gaudreau would rather focus on the development, the big-game seasoning and the experienced gained, especially in this monster stretch of the early-season schedule.

"Coming out of COVID, we had the same core group of guys really for three years, and we rode it through to the championship game last year," said Gaudreau, after his club suffered its third straight defeat, 11-5, at the hands of unbeaten (5-0) Exeter.

"For us, it's playing these games. We're in the thick of things, playing some of these Massachusetts teams, it's putting ourselves in a situation like this to compete. We have a lot of guys who haven't competed at this level consistently. So, in the last three games, we've seen a lot of situations where we think we can swing things the other way.

"It's practice, it's trying to focus on the little things and make the game-winning plays, not give teams goals. We've gotten so much better already in a month's time. Getting through some of these games and learning the tough lessons, sometimes you've got to take your lumps, and we're OK with that."

Simply put, April results are not high on the Astros' agenda right now. Building a crew that can swing it with the big boys in June ranks high there.

And there are some pretty encouraging signs.

First there was the sophomore at the face-off "X," Dylan Stingel, who at one point had won 9 of 12 draws in the game and finished 11 for 17.

Goalie Owen Perkins, a freshman, also stood tall in goal, facing a formidable Exeter attack.

"If you look at today's game, the two that stand out in my mind are Dylan Stingel, who was tremendous, and a kid like Owen Perkins, our freshman goalie. Owen stepped up big time (12 saves)," said Gaudreau.

"You see guys like that who you know have not had a lot of big game experience, and you balance that out with some guys like Ricky Wong making a bunch of plays at attack. That's what it's all about. Kids are making strides in those positions.

"It's fun to see the development of those guys, but I think everybody recognizes we have to start doing it together so we can start seeing more wins in the win column."

A rugged schedule should pay some serious dividends down the road. At least, that is the plan. The Astros still have some work to do.

"I look at our roster this year, and we're as deep as we've ever been. I think it's just guys need to get some more experience and learn how to win games like today," said Gaudreau. "We certainly have the ability to do so. It's just us finding a way to do it."