Bedford notches historic boys' soccer win
BEDFORD - Undefeated Bedford's thrilling and rainy 1-0 win over rival Hanover was a rite of passage in New Hampshire high school soccer.
Though the Bulldogs claimed the Division II state championship last season, in just their fourth varsity campaign, they hadn't ever defeated mighty Hanover, which had won the previous six titles before both soccer programs moved the rivalry to Division I this season.
'Now we have come of age as a program. We beat Hanover,' said Bedford coach Stuart Pepper after dropping Hanover to 7-2.
Friday night's game was played in a downpour. The rivals also played to a scoreless tie in similar weather conditions on Bedford's artificial last season.
About 200 fans huddled under drenched umbrellas to witness history. Weather conditions and strong defenses - the two stingiest teams in Division I - tested each team's resolve to possess the ball and control play.
Senior co-captain Casey Schehl netted the lone goal of the game in the 16th minute. Briefly unmarked about 20 yards out, he one-timed a shot just under the crossbar and just over the outstretched fingertips of Hanover keeper Duncan Piper.
'That's what happens when you leave the two best players in the state open on the same play,' said Hanover coach Rob Grabill.
Co-captain Erik Martel broke free of two defenders in the left corner and crossed a nifty pass to Marco Ibanez a few yards from the goal face. He was tackled while attempting a shot, but got the ball out to Schehl.
'I didn't expect the ball. I thought Marco had been fouled,' said Schehl. 'I only had time to get my weak (right) foot on it. It turned out to be a big goal, helping us get a great win.'
In five seasons, this was the second goal Bedford managed against Hanover.
Hanover had to work hard for opportunities to tie the score. The Bulldogs worked cohesively to surround the ball and mark recipients of most through-pass attempts. Nolan Villeneuve's sliding tackle deterred Marauder forward Daniel Hazlett's run. James Heald somehow blocked Evan Greenwald's shot and keeper Taylor Wallace somehow deflected Ian Strohbehn's header in the 76th minute of play.
'Bedford's defense played well. They made it tough,' said Strohbehn, who blocked a Martel free-kick offering with the left side of his face midway through the second half.
Classmates Martel and Schehl, two of Bedford's top scorers, covered the entire field, engineering scoring chances with Anders Holt, Sean Purcell and Ibanez. In the 62nd minute, Hanover back Daniel Osheyack appeared out of nowhere to alter Schehl's strong bid for a second goal.
'It was a good show and a well-played game. I hope we get a chance to meet again this season,' said Grabill.