Lucky and good: Panthers escape with 2-1 win over Broncos
NASHUA – Sometimes you’d rather be lucky than good. On Tuesday, the Nashua High School South girls soccer team were a mixture of both.
The Panthers, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead, surived a frantic Alvirne push in the final 10 minutes to escape Stellos Stadium with a 2-1 win. They are now off to a 3-0 start.
“I know they’re a decent team,” South coach Lauren Keating said of the Broncos. “They came in 0-2, and definitely didn’t want to go out 0-3. They had numerous opportunities. Luckily for us they didn’t capitalize on most of them. Some days you get really lucky.”
After last season, the Panthers can use it. They have now won half as many games as a year ago and the season isn’t even two weeks old. On the flip side, the Broncos a year ago were a quarterfinal team and are off to a tough start. And Tuesday they simply waited too long to rev up their offensive engines.
“I think it was just a last-minute push to try to score a couple of goals and get back in the game,” Alvirne coach Jerry Ruigrok said. “The last push was just about effort, but we need execution to to put ourselves in an effort to score.”
Ruigrok admitted the Broncos have been trying to focus more on defense. They gave up an early goal on a blistering ground ball shot by Alexandria Kapopoulos just 8:01 in. Kapopoulos also had a couple of moments when she hit the crossbar or just missed it. There was some Bronco luck.
Then, in the second half, luck was clearly a Panther when junior speedster Soraya Ross fired a grounder at the goal that went just under Bronco keeper Paige McKinley’s arm for a 2-0 Panther lead at 62:51. Ross looked surprised she even scored.
“That last one skipped off the turf,” Ruigrok said. “Unlucky, really.”
Then the Bronco push began, and they missed opportunies. It looked like Bronco 3 was perfectly sent by 15 with near 10 minutes remaining, but was just too deep. Finally, Paige Boudreau cut the lead in half inside of three minutes left. It seemed only a matter of time, but it could have been worse for South and keeper Isabel Mederos (four saves), who got some good help from, among others, sophomore Mariana Mejia Estrada.
“We scored early, and we made some changes early in the second half trying to maintain our lead and slow them down down the middle. It paid off, but some tense moments at the end.”
One was incredible about 68 minutes in when it appeared Panther Tanvi Menghani came out of nowhere to blast a ball away from the goal mouth when it looked like an Alvirne score was imminent.
“She came right across the goal and blasted it out,” Keating said. “We have a young team, and their whole thing is they want to make it past the first round of the playoffs.
“We’re scoring a lot of goals, and that’s one thing that stabbed us in the back last year a little bit.”
While the Panthers just beat a team that was anxious to get its first win, next on Thursday they’ll face a team, defending champion Bishop Guertin, that is anxious just to play a game as the Cards have had at least two games postponed and have yet to open their season.
“They haven’t played a game yet,” Keating said. “The confidence boost is we’re 3-0 coming in to face the defending state champions.”
And they hope luck is a Panther again.