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NHIAA Soccer: Central girls beat Bedford in showdown

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 09. 2018 10:08PM

MANCHESTER — After a loss to Londonderry two weeks ago, Manchester Central girls’ soccer coach Peter Lally said anyone doubting the capabilities of his team would be making a mistake. Well, the Little Green are backing up their coach’s belief in them.

Central has won five consecutive games since the loss, the latest triumph being its best to date, 4-1 over Bedford on Tuesday at Gill Stadium. The rematch of last year’s Division I title game produced the same result as the defending champion Little Green (10-2) never trailed after taking a 2-0 lead into halftime.

Two goals from Erin Flurey and one each for Kaitlin McIntire and Paige LaBerge highlighted the win for Central, which improved its chances at a top-four seed and first-round bye in the upcoming D-I tournament.

“This was another true test against a one-loss team,” Lally said. “It was a situation where the depth of benches played a factor and improving game by game. We’ve played some games where we are very good and others where we are not. My kids just continue to work hard in practice and games while carrying high expectations on what they want to get done.”

Flurey and McIntire staked Central to its halftime edge with scores from nearly the same spot. Flurey’s strike opened the scoring in the third minute as she turned and banged a cross shot from the top-left corner of the 18-yard box. Back-and-forth play ensued for the next 25 minutes until McIntire, posted at the same corner of the 18-yard box, corralled a loft pass and timed a cross shot through a defender and in to make it 2-0.

While the early strikes built a cushion for Central, LaBerge’s goal proved to be the must-have for the Little Green. After Bedford’s Mackenzie MacEachern scored on a breakaway off the restart following halftime, LaBerge offered a response a minute later with an 18-yard laser to raise the Little Green’s lead back to two goals. Flurey finished the scoring with her second goal with less than three minutes to play.

“It’s very easy for a team to let down a soon as the tides start to turn, but the ebbs and flows show again,” Lally said. “You look to your leadership there and Paige is a leader. She’s a role model for a lot of our kids to look up to, showing if you try to achieve success that you can do it.”

Had LaBerge not scored, MacEachern’s tally could’ve provided a turn in momentum for the Bulldogs (9-2-1). Instead, Bedford was reduced to a handful of chances as goalie Jessica Lewis (six saves) and Central’s defense kept the Bulldogs’ speedy front line in check.

“There wasn’t a lot of possession or really any flow to it, but that’s the game you expect with two high-pressure teams,” Bedford coach Michelle Winning said. “I think we played very defensively and held back. They never got put on their heels because we didn’t pressure them while just letting the game kind of come at us.”

The Bulldogs had one corner kick in the game, which came with eight minutes to play.