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Exeter celebrates its fourth goal of Saturday night's game. (Bruce Taylor/Union Leader)

NHIAA D-I Girls' Soccer Championship: Undefeated Exeter makes it four in a row

MANCHESTER - Call it a four-peat.

The undefeated Exeter girls won their fourth straight Division I soccer championship, securing their status as queens of the 21st century with a 5-1 victory over Bedford Saturday night at Southern New Hampshire University's Larkin Field.

The last team to monopolize the large school division's title game was Manchester West. The Blue Knights won five straight (1989-1993) and eight in nine seasons (1989-1997).

"Somebody's going to beat them some day. It wasn't us today. (Exeter) is a great team," said Michelle Winning, the Bedford head coach. Coincidently, Winning won three titles before graduating from West in 1997. "(Exeter) kind of reminds me of what we were like back then."

The Blue Hawk (20-0) dynasty claimed its seventh title in the past eight seasons with a convincing win over a competent and competitive third-seeded Bedford squad (14-3-2). Since engineering an opening-day come-from-behind win over Londonderry, Exeter dominated nearly every aspect of play on every pitch it played this season.

Saturday night was no exception. Exeter took control early, owning a three-goal lead before the game was 25 minutes old, in similar fashion to what happened in the Blue Hawks' 6-2 victory at Bedford during the regular season.

"This is unbelievable," said Exeter coach Megan Young. "To go undefeated in Division I is one thing. To do it with a bull's-eye on your back and win a state championship is something else. This is quite a team."

In the title game, Exeter built 10 scoring chances in the first half and made good on three. Casey Estey, Maggie Couett and Abby Short scored with Casey Scott, Estey and Couett serving up assists.

The Bulldogs' Johanna Celli tallied an unassisted goal late in the first half. But, Exeter's Katie Day deflated any comeback hopes on a pretty goal just after intermission. Estey netted her second goal of the game in the 74th minute.

In the title game, Brooke Barrett made 10 saves for Bedford. Molly Keefe and Jeannette Mara forced Exeter keeper Jessica Long to make a couple of nice saves.

"This team earned their way to the title game. I'm proud of all they accomplished," said Winning.

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