Was it the start of a power shift in New Hampshire Division 1 lacrosse? Or is that reading too much into just one game?

The answer seems to be: a little of both.

For the first time since a 10-8 loss to Bishop Guertin in the 2005 title game, the Pinkerton boys lacrosse team experienced what it's like to lose a game, as the Astros dropped a 7-5 contest at Exeter last Friday.

It marked the end of a truly dominating run for Pinkerton, which had won 22 straight games. Last year the Astros cruised to a 20-0 record and a state crown, and then this year Pinkerton was once again making it look easy with a 13-1 win over Manchester Memorial and a 14-2 win over Manchester West to start the season.

However, last Saturday the Astros did something they aren't accustomed to do. They coughed up a 3-1 halftime lead and a 4-2 third period lead and were outscored 5-1 to close the contest.

Perhaps the loss was an aberration for Pinkerton, which has been the No. 1 seed in the state tournament virtually every year since lacrosse was started in New Hampshire. But this year's squad has run into some early-season adversity.

The recent massive amounts of rain combined with a natural grass field, prevented the Astros from opening their season until mid-April. In fact, for much of the preseason, Pinkerton was forced to practice on a parking lot.

The team make-up is also different from a year ago. No longer available is All-American Steve Boyle, now a freshman at Johns Hopkins University. Boyle played a huge role in the Astros' scoring attack for the previous four years and left behind huge shoes to fill in the Pinkerton lineup.

Senior Steve Guilherme, a 48-goal scorer last year, is also missing in action due to an ACL injury suffered last fall during football season. Fellow senior Ryan Stewart, a midfielder and 30-goal scorer, is also out due to injury.

If that's not enough, Pinkerton lost perhaps the best faceoff guy in the state, Bobby Datillo, late in the first half against Exeter with a wrist injury.

Needless to say, the injury bug has been having a field day with the Pinkerton squad. But there is plenty of talent still left.

Eagle-Tribune All-Star goalie Dave Brochu is fantastic in net, and even went coast-to-coast untouched to score a goal against Exeter. Junior Anthony Valentine (seven goals, three assists) and sophomore Nolin Murphy (four goals, five assists) have also been pleasant surprises for Pinkerton through the first three games of the year.

Overall, it has been balance that has been key for Pinkerton this spring. As of Monday, 10 different players had tallied at least one goal for Pinkerton.

The Astros will need every bit of that balance this week, as they play four games. It's a very unforgiving schedule to a team plagued by injuries.

However, if the Astros have one of those trademark dominant weeks that we have become so accustomed to seeing, perhaps it's a bit too early to be discussing a shift in power in Division 1.

Matt Langone is the sports editor of the Derry News. He can be reached by phone at 603-421-3829 or e-mail him at sports@derrynews.com.

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