NHIAA Boys' Soccer: Pembroke beats back early Souhegan challenge
PEMBROKE — Early, a Souhegan of Amherst storm cloud hovered over Pembroke’s net. A defiant Spartans squad weathered the storm and ultimately reigned supreme, posting a 3-0 victory Tuesday afternoon.
Pembroke’s defense turned back repeated Souhegan breakaway scoring opportunities over the first 20 minutes of play. Momentum switched sides in the 29th minute when Pembroke scored on its own quick strike to set the tone for its fourth shutout and a sweep of its two-game season series with the Sabers.
The win, Pembroke’s (8-4) fourth in its last five games, kept the home team in the running for a top-four seed in a parity-dominated Division II where 12 of the 18 teams entered play with a winning record.
Souhegan, which settled for a tie in three of its past four games and dropped to 5-5-3 with the loss, placed two shots on goal in the opening minute of play. Pembroke keeper Alex Trujillo recorded five saves before the game was 10 minutes old, making diving saves on shots by Mike Hayden and Kade Cohen.
“I’m like, ‘Oh no, Here we go again.’ Luckily we’d practiced on breakaway chances lately so I felt confident,” said Trujillo, a junior keeper who finished the game with 11 saves. “I came out slowly, tried to cut down on the angle of their shots and just do my best.”
The Sabers attacked right down the middle of the field, sparking breakaway chances on midfield through passes. Pembroke defenders Josh Payer, Kyle Haas and Tom Ferguson each made key tackles. Trujillo dove right, left and leaped to stop others. Hayden clanked a shot off the post. Devan Casey clocked one off the crossbar.
“We should have buried them in the early going,” said Souhegan coach Dave Saxe. “We score the first goal and the outcome might have been completely different.”
Pembroke struck first instead. Tyler Gahara angled a through pass between two defenders leading the way for Brandon Bachelder’s 20-yard left-footed boot. Gahara, a senior center midfielder, netted the second goal on a penalty kick before assisting on his club’s final strike, sending in Parker Heath for a 20-yard strike from the right side.
“We thought we could attack them on the outside. It worked out just fine,” said Gahara, who has scored 10 goals and assisted on five of Pembroke’s 23 goals this season.
Pembroke dictated play for most of the second half, stringing together long possessions with one-touch passes and efficient ball handling.
“We have been moving the ball well the past few games,” said Pembroke coach Pete Bisson. “The team has been moving the ball forward and playing fast.”
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Eric Emmerling may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.