Panthers can’t keep up with Little Green in 4-0 loss

Staff photo by TOM KING Manchester Central's Erin Flurey (24) and Nashua South's Maille McDermott race to the ball during Central's 4-0 win over the Panthes on Tuesday at Stellos Stadium.

NASHUA – The Nashua High School South girls soccer team is learning a valuable lesson:

If they want to be the best, they’ll have to beat the best.

And right now, defending Division I champion Manchester Central can be considered the best, and the Little Green strengthened that thought with a 4-0 win over the Panthers at Stellos Stadium.

“You can’t make mistakes against good teams, good teams will punish you,” Nashua South coach Tom Bellen said. “That (Central) is going to be a top five team for sure. They executed on their end, we didn’t execute on ours.”

South dropped to 0-1-1 and, unable to convert when it did have chances thanks to Little Green keeper Jessica Lewis, had trouble at times stopping Central’s attack, led by sophomore two-goal scorer Erin Flurey.

Central (2-0) scored twice a span of about a minute midway through the first half. Marianna Poore headed one in moments after the confusion of a corner kick (assist to Kaitlin McIntire) in the game’s 19th minute.

Flurey’s first goal came just about 60 seconds later. It was an easy empty netter off a feed from Paige LaBerge that was just out of the reach of Panther netminder Kendra Santoro, who otherwise was superb with seven saves.

“We had a couple of chances, didn’t convert, then they put two in on us and it sort of changes the game,” Bellen said. “The energy level sort of dipped.”

South regained its spunk with a second half flurry, but Lewis (six saves) was tough, robbing Panther striker Angie Suaza on a golden chance that would have cut the lead in half. Like Santoro for South in the first half, she came up big for the visitors in the second.

“She did,” Central coach Peter Lally said. “She’s a junior this year, was our keeper last year, and she did a fabulous job.”

Flurey beat Santoro to the ball and waltzed in for another easy one (LaBerge assist) in the 66th minute to put the game out of reach, 3-0. Madison Tremblay scored inside of two minutes to account for the final.

Two factors for South: One, Suaza, playing in her first game after a knee injury limited her all preseason, was in and out of the game and went at about an 80 percent clip, Bellen said. “She still has some fitness to work on,” he said.

And, all four Central goals were scored without key Panther back Maille McDermott on the field. McDermott received two cards, was ejected just prior to midway through the second half, and likely will have to miss the next two games.

“She’s important,” Bellen said. “She has to learn to control her temper and be smart and know how the refs are calling the game. She’s a competitive kid. … And a huge part of the back of the field for us.”

Lally has to be happy with his team thus far, which has outscored the opposition 10-0 to start and has LaBerge headed to Florida State next year. How is this team compared to last year’s title team?

“Better,” Lally said. “We have more depth. We’re stronger. I had only one senior last year. … The kids they work hard every day, they’re smart in school. I don’t have any problems with them.”

As for the Panthers, “We’re still all right. We’ll be competing. We’ll be top eight, I’m pretty sure, and we’ll give teams games.”