South boys soccer eliminated on penalty kicks
WINDHAM – In a game like this one, it was only fitting that a goalkeeper scored the winning goal.
The Nashua South boys’ soccer team saw its season end on Saturday in the NHIAA Division I boys soccer quarterfinals, falling to Windham 5-4 in a penalty shootout.
Windham junior Landon Neal sent a header just inches past the post in the opening seconds of the game to stamp the contest with a tenor that continued on throughout regulation and beyond.
Both sides had their chances as momentum ebbed and flowed and opportunities went by the wayside.
With neither side able to find an advantage after regulation and overtime, the deadlock continued for the first two rounds of the shootout as well until South’s Fernando Figueroa saw his shot sail high. Dom Picciano immediately followed with a low ball that went to his left, just off the fingertips of South junior goalkeeper Elliot Mason.
But again, the contest would just not die. Senior Cam Atkinson needed just one more goal in the fifth round to finish the contest for Windham, but he saw his shot carom off the crossbar.
South now had a chance to regain momentum, but again saw a shot go too high, this time from senior Saif Maimat.
The difference finally came from Windham junior goalkeeper Preston Neal, who found the winner in the sixth round.
“Basically, I just put my eyes down and went for the corner. I hoped (Mason) dove there to his bottom right. Great team effort, I just had to finish the game,” said Neal.
For South Head Coach Tom Bellen, the ending was a difficult way to end a season of growth on and off the pitch.
“You never want to go to penalties. It’s not satisfying either way, especially when you’re on the losing side of it,” said
“These were two evenly matched teams. That’s just what it was and why we went into the PKs.”
South ends its season with a 12-5-1 record, falling just short of their goal of reaching the Division I Semifinals. Instead, that honor will go to the Jaguars, who climb to 13-3-2 including their playoff performances so far.
One of those draws came on Sept. 20, on the road against top-ranked Bedford. That draw was the only blemish for Bedford in what was a regular season of nothing but wins.
Bedford defeated Concord earlier in the day in their quarterfinal matchup, 2-0.
Hollis Brookline 1
The Cavaliers, seeded seventh, took to the road looking for the upset but fall to the No. 2
The Cavaliers finish the year at 11-6-1, including the opening playoff win over Plymouth.
The Spartans’ fine campaign ends in the state quarterfinals against the Falcons.
Milford went from a 2-14 season a year ago to the 9-4-4 campaign this season, which was good enough for a first-round playoff bye.
Wednesday night, Bow will face ConVal in one semifinal, while Lebanon will tangle with Oyster River in the other.
Those games are at Exeter High.