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NHIAA Soccer: Memorial, Central play to tie

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 22. 2017 11:14PM

MANCHESTER — The city boys’ soccer rivalry between Manchester Central and Manchester Memorial never disappoints.

The old adage of throwing records out the window in a matchup of rivals spoke true as the Crusaders and Little Green played to a 2-2 tie after 100 minutes at Gill Stadium. Central (7-0-1) held a 2-0 edge after 60 minutes before the Crusaders (2-5-1) registered two goals of their own in the span of four minutes to knot things. While the Little Green missed at least six ripe chances to win over the final seven minutes of regulation, neither team had more than a pair of good looks across the two 10-minute overtime periods.

“That was good, entertaining soccer right there,” Central coach Chris LaBerge said. “They caught us with some good counters and we just couldn’t execute when we needed to. I’m not disappointed though. That was a fun game to coach in and I had a blast.”

Memorial is 2-0-1 over its last three games after a winless start to its season. Jordan Trombly cut the Crusaders’ deficit in half when he forced a turnover and carried the ball 40 yards into the box before shooting on a slide for a goal. Memorial’s equalizer came four minutes later when Joey Johnson ripped a 40-yard free kick into the box and Ahmed Selimovic rose to head the ball off the left post.

“He’s our target there. That’s for sure,” said Memorial coach Chris Florek said of Selimovic, who stands well over 6-feet tall. “You look around and we’re not a big group. It’s pretty easy to look for him on something like that and he got on the right side of that one.”

Central, ranked eighth nationally in the latest USA Today poll, got its goals from Nidal Almaree (10th minute) and Joshue Assantha (52nd minute) and appeared on its way to improving on its perfect start. Lacking execution and bad luck proved to be Central’s undoing, but especially over the final eight minutes of regulation. The Little Green hit the crossbar or a post three times during that closing stretch, including once on a booming Max Kalampalikis free kick from just outside the box. Assantha also had a close call when his foot went above a cross through the goalie box with Memorial goalie Connor Page slow to react.

Memorial’s back line had a lot to do with Central’s shortcomings on the attack. Johnson, Selimovic, Kevin Mineuza, Noah Munroe and Taylor Fournier each came up with defensive efforts at the end of regulation and in both extra periods.

Florek was complimentary of the Little Green’s overall play, but it was hard to ignore his Crusaders’ body of work and where it might take his club.

“We’ve dug ourselves a little hole and now we need to get on a run,” Florek said. “It doesn’t get any easier with Pinkerton on Tuesday. Ties aren’t going to do us any good with the 12-team playoff format, but hopefully this really catapults to where we need to be in the end.”

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