EXETER — The chant was "15, 15, 15" from the Derryfield School of Manchester faithful.
The number signified the tally of state championships the boys' soccer team has won after a 1-0 victory over Sunapee in the NHIAA Division IV state championship at Bill Ball Stadium Sunday. The win was the second title in a row for No. 3 Derryfield (17-2-1) and third in five years.
"It's a special group," said Derryfield coach Jeff Cousineau. "The seniors here, there are eight of them and two years ago we lost to Sunapee in the semifinals. We had several kids that were injured and we had eight starting sophomores that day and this is the same group. They've had a heck of a run. They've been around and done some things, so it's special."
One of those seniors, Jack St. Jean, scored the lone goal of the game in the sixth minute . Another senior, Jared Schoneberger, fed St. Jean and he finished with a shot into the right corner from straight on to beat senior goalie James Fitzgerald.
"Jared fed me a great through ball and I had a couple defenders to beat," St. Jean said. "I saw the goalie coming out and I tried to chip it as best I could and that worked out for me."
It was a nice bit of closure for St. Jean and his classmates and it came against an evenly matched opponent in the fifth-seeded Lakers (13-5-2). Derryfield won 2-1 an early meeting and a second regular season match ended in a 2-2 draw.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in. You couldn't ask for two better opponents in the championship," St. Jean said. "It's great to finally prove that we can be the better team. You have to feel for them because they played a tough game and all the hard work to make it here. They're a great team."
The Lakers nearly tied the game in the 31st minute, but Will Austin's shot went wide of the cage after a nice setup from Liam Sherwin.
"He really got on it, but it just went wide. That was Liam, he thought of that himself and he's got a great service," said Sunapee coach Jack Iacopino. "It was a great attempt."
Both teams registered strong scoring chances throughout, but the goalkeepers were strong. Fitzgerald made eight saves, including a sparkling diving hand stop in the final minute off a St. Jean drive labeled for the lower left corner.
Derryfield freshman goalie Tommy Cissel made four saves to earn the shutout.
"This is what we expected," Cousineau said of the tight battle. "Playing them twice, it was never a blowout. I think we're evenly matched teams. There were parts of the game where we carried play, parts where they carried play. It comes down to those few moments where you finish one and make it count."
Derryfield did that, and the count was 15.