September 10. 2018 10:21PM

NHIAA Boys' Soccer: Hats off to Bedford's Edwards

By JOE DUBALL
New Hampshire Union Leader


DERRY — A loss stings, but a double-overtime loss after dominating your opponent everywhere but the scoreboard is dizzying. However, the hangover didn’t last for the Bedford High boys’ soccer team.

The Bulldogs didn’t change their tune following their loss at Hanover on Friday and staying the course translated into a 3-0 victory over Pinkerton Monday. Austin Edwards was the catalyst for the Bulldogs with his hat trick while the offense continued to chug along with10 shots on net.

“We just wanted to get back on the field as quickly as possible after we thought we played so well at Hanover,” Bedford coach Stuart Pepper said. “We were pleased with that performance but not the result. It’s not bad to take a defeat early to keep you humble and today was a good bounceback against a lively group.”

Bedford (3-1) had Pinkerton (3-1) on its heels from the onset despite just a 1-0 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs controlled possession for the majority of the opening half, which showed with five shot on goal and seven corner kicks for Bedford versus just one corner kick for Pinkerton over the opening 40 minutes.

Edwards broke through late in the first half, poking a Nate Statires cross inside the left post while crashing the net. “I just felt like I wanted to bounce back myself but really get the team back up,” Edwards said. “I wanted guys feeling good about themselves, which meant just stepping up and trying to put the ball in the back of the net.”

The second half brought more good fortune for Edwards as he completed his hat trick with his final goals in a two-minute span. The senior made it 2-0 with a second-chance goal following an initial body save by Pinkerton keeper Max Fairbank (six saves). The cap to the hat trick came in short order as Edwards beat Fairbank on a penalty kick after a take-down in the box.

“He’s picking it up and is just a real class player,” said Pepper of Edwards. “Austin is a great leader and you could tell he kind of realized today that he had to do it all. He wanted to get a win back and the effort he put out there showed that hunger.”

Despite taking care of all the scoring, Edwards was hardly alone within the offense for Bedford. Fellow seniors Ryan Sledjeski and Graham Reynolds took the lead on a lot of Bedford’s rushes while juniors Vitor Rodriguez and Statires picked away at Pinkerton’s defense with their speed and finesse.

“The heart is there for us,” Edwards said. “The midfield is young, but we’re working with them and feel strong. ... Sometimes it gets sloppy and the underclassmen get in their own heads, but it’s up to me and the other upperclassmen to get them back on their feet. Overall, I think we’ll have it together midway through the year.”

Pinkerton had very few chances at counters and was stuck in a defensive mode for the majority of the game. The Astros’ best tries came with Terry Coyle’s far-side miss with Bedford goalie Aidan Wisherd (one save) out of position in the game’s opening minutes and a failed bicycle kick by Hunter Rathburn on the right post with eight minutes to play.

“The reality is that sometimes you just play a team that’s better than you, and Bedford is better than us right now,” Pinkerton coach Kerry Boles said. “I always give our guys different comparisons and with these guys it was like playing the (New England) Patriots. Somebody tries to take something away from Tom Brady and he’ll find another way to beat you. We took some things away and they found a way, but then we changed in the second half and they found another way. Good teams do that.”

jduball@unionleader.com