NASHUA – The Nashua High School South girls’ lacrosse team was not playing around on Wednesday afternoon at Stellos Stadium.
Senior captain Elizabeth Harrington and junior captain Kirsten McIntire each finished with five goals and two assists, as the Panthers flew out to a 9-0 lead during a wire-to-wire 17-8 triumph over visiting Manchester Central.
“We came out and we knew this was going to be a tough game,” said Harrington. “We made sure we were focused and put a lot of energy in during warm-ups. Kirsten and I have been playing together for a long time; we play together year-round. We can play alongside each other pretty much with our eyes closed because we always know where the other one is.”
The Panthers (10-5), who are having their best season under fourth-year coach Ciki McIntire, also received standout performances by freshman Olivia Johnson (goal, four assists), junior Sarah Signorello (three goals) and junior Bailey Morin (goal, two assists).
Senior Ryleigh Cavanaugh led the Little Green (5-5) with four goals, while senior Katelyn Parker finished with two goals and two assists. Central won 16-of-27 draws, as juniors Emily Ahern (three assists) and Emma Dudley (two goals) finished with multi-point games.
Harrington, who did an outstanding job cutting and moving without the ball, opened the scoring 2:31 into the game on a cut through the lane, assisted by a behind-the-net pass by Kirsten McIntire. Two minutes, 33 seconds later, Harrington picked the lower-left corner on a free-position attempt. Three goals in 36 seconds by McIntire gave South a 5-0 advantage with 18:09 left.
“It was great teamwork at both ends of the field,” said Ciki McIntire. “I thought the offense was very spread out, as the girls were looking to feed their teammates. It is easy to stop one person, but when they are unselfish and always looking to make that extra pass; it is really hard to stop.”
A goal by a weaving Signorello with 9:15 on the clock put South up 9-0. The Little Green tallied three of the next five goals, pulling within 11-3 on a straight-on goal by Cavanaugh with 4:54 on the board. Morin tallied a textbook play for South, picking up a caused turnover and ground ball in the attacking zone, and then feeding freshman Kaitlyn West for a point-blank goal, sending the lead up to 12-3 with 2:45 remaining.
South took a 13-4 lead into halftime, and then reeled off the first three goals of the second half, putting the game in safe hands at 16-4 on a tally by Johnson with 19 minutes showing.
The Panthers’ defense was on point, not allowing Central to get comfortable in the attacking end. South junior goalie Rileigh Bunton made a pair of big-time saves midway through the first half, denying Dudley on a free-position shot and turning aside Ahern seconds later on a follow-up.
“Central always makes me very nervous because they have been putting up 20 goals a game,” said Ciki McIntire. “It was nice to hold them to under 10. When the defense made a mistake; they figured out what they needed to do to correct it.”
South is in the midst of a big week, as it handled its business on Monday with a 9-7 win over Londonderry. A big test looms on Friday, as the unit will hit the road for a 4 p.m. matchup against Pinkerton (13-1).
“I kept telling the girls what a big week this was,” said Ciki McIntire. “We want to take one game at a time. We are in that position where we want to improve each year. The last couple years, we have been 8-8 so to take that one step further and have that winning record was one of our goals.”