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NHIAA D-II boys’ soccer: Putnam’s OT goal lifts Pembroke to first championship in nearly 60 years

  • The Pembroke boys’ soccer team celebrates its Division II state title after defeating Windham, 2-1, in overtime at SNHU on Saturday. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Pembroke’s Kobie Valdes (13) embraces Jackson Putnam (3) after Putnam’s overtime goal in the D-II championship. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Pembroke goalie Tyler Smith (1) makes a save during the Division II boys' soccer championship at SNHU on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. Pembroke defeated Windham, 2-1, in overtime. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Pembroke defeats Windham, 2-1, in overtime, to win the Division II boys' soccer championship at SNHU on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Pembroke defeats Windham, 2-1, in overtime, to win the Division II boys' soccer championship at SNHU on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Pembroke defeats Windham, 2-1, in overtime, to win the Division II boys' soccer championship at SNHU on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Pembroke defeats Windham, 2-1, in overtime, to win the Division II boys' soccer championship at SNHU on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Pembroke defeats Windham, 2-1, in overtime, to win the Division II boys' soccer championship at SNHU on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Pembroke defeats Windham, 2-1, in overtime, to win the Division II boys' soccer championship at SNHU on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Pembroke defeats Windham, 2-1, in overtime, to win the Division II boys' soccer championship at SNHU on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Pembroke defeats Windham, 2-1, in overtime, to win the Division II boys' soccer championship at SNHU on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Sunday, November 05, 2017

HOOKSETT – Jackson Putnam didn’t take the shot because he thought he had the advantage, or because it was the smart play, or because after nearly 100 minutes of soccer he wanted to be the hero.

“I honestly just didn’t want to run anymore. I was totally shot,” said the Pembroke senior. “I was just like I want to win this and hopefully this goes in.”

The shot left Putnam’s foot near midfield, traveled 45 yards in the air and deflected off the hands of the Windham keeper and into the net in the 95th minute to lift the No. 2 Pembroke Spartans over the No. 1 Windham Jaguars, 2-1, in double overtime of the Division II championship at Southern New Hampshire University.

Not bad for a reserve.

“I never score,” Putnam admitted. “That was just in the moment.”

“My first instinct is no,” Pembroke Coach Peter Bisson said of watching the final shot. “My second is instinct is I almost didn’t know what happened for a moment. The kids were off the bench and it took me a moment to figure out, ‘Yeah, we just won it.’ It’s just one of those balls that keepers don’t see all day and all of a sudden they have to deal with it. It’s not how you draw it up but you’ll take it.”

It was the first championship for the Spartans since 1958, and Putnam will likely have a special place in the school’s record books for his heroics.

“This is our ultimate goal every year is working towards this,” Bisson said. “Maybe some years it’s unrealistic, but at least the last couple of years I felt like we were there. It takes a little bit of luck, but they worked hard and that’s our goal. It’s great for them to see it through all the way.”

The contest itself was played on small bursts of momentum for each side.

Behind a ferocious back line of Jake Mavity, Andrew Nedeau, Justin Smith and keeper Tyler Smith, Pembroke put up a defensive clinic in the first half, protecting the one-goal lead Matt Ferguson supplied with his goal in the third minute.

But the Spartans couldn’t hold on for the full 40 minutes.

With 43 seconds to play in the first half, Windham’s Kyle Cocciardi finally got one of his five shots to go in, finding the inside of the net on the far post off a feed from Jake Morgan to steal the momentum back.

“We definitely had our heads down,” Putnam said. “We just went back at halftime and said, ‘We’ve had goals scored against us before, it can change.’ And it did.”

Part of that change was spearheaded by Tyler Smith, who refused to allow anything past him after the first half. Smith finished with 12 saves, none bigger than a point-blank save early in the second overtime period that kept Pembroke’s season alive.

“We haven’t needed him much this year, but every time we have he’s come up like that,” Bisson said. “Today he was definitely needed against a good team and he came up huge. … I always say he’s a man playing high school soccer. He’s just amazing.”

Bisson wasn’t the only one singing the praises of Smith. Windham had dangerous chances all evening and could have easily been ahead by a few goals if not for Smith.

“We thought we had (Smith) late there, but obviously he made the play and you have to give him a lot of credit for that,” Windham Coach Mike Hachey said. “He’s the best keeper I’ve seen by far this season.”

On the other end, it was sophomore keeper Preston Neal keeping the Jaguars in it after filling in for Ben Wentworth following Pembroke’s first goal.

In his first varsity game on such a big stage, Neal prevented Kolbie Valdes from scoring by making a leaping save in the 55th minute, helped deflect the ball out on a great run from Connor Manteau minutes later and came up clutch with a desperation save on Damon Smith in the 63rd minute.

Unfortunately for the Jaguars, Neal couldn’t prevent Putnam’s prayer from getting past him.

“He kept us in position to win this game and he’s an outstanding talent,” Hachey said. “I felt like it was two No. 1 seeds going against each other so it was going to be a game like this. There’s a small margin for error and obviously in about 100 minutes there are going to be a few mistakes made and that’s where team’s capitalize.

“I expected them to be good and they were very good and they certainly deserve to be champions.”

(Jay McAree can be reached at 369-3371, jmcaree@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JayMcAree.)