South girls win soccer Battle with North, 3-1; clinch Bridge
NASHUA – Nashua South High School girls soccer coach Lauren Keating was looking for a little more spunk from her team on Thursday.
Thank you, Battle of the Bridge.
The rivalry with Nashua North didn’t hurt, as the Panthers fought their way to a tough 3-1 win over a game Titan team that couldn’t quite match their firepower.
“We had a tough go out of it at Timberlane (a 6-2 loss Tuesday),” Keating said. “That was humbling for us. We definitely wanted to come out here and make a statement. And obviously the rivalry is a big deal, too.”
The Panthers were led by Addison Varley, who had a goal and an assist and was the engine that made South’s offense move.
“She’s very physical, and we needed that today,” Keating said. “We knew we were going to have to improve on that.”
South struck for two first half goals, with Varley feeding Bella O’Halloran just 4:28 in. She later fired home her own goal at the 31:03 mark for a 2-0 lead.
That would be enough to sink a team, but not the Titans, who had a couple of chances earlier but got a big goal from Sarah Frye in the final two minutes of the half to get North back in the game.
But that would be their only goal, as they fell to 1-7. Panther keeper Isabel Mederos made three stops, and one of her defenders, Mia Cruz, made another in the first half. North had some chances, but not enough.
“It’s a young group, so they’re still trying to figure out each other,” North coach Jacqueline Thompson said. “But one of the things that’s really great is they’re a phenominal versatile team. … They’re starting to get in their groove and figure it out.”
But the rivalry created another feeling.
“I think they were a little more nervous,” Thompson said. “Some of them know the meaning (of the rivalry), some of them don’t.”
“You definitely don’t want to give up a goal in the last two minutes or three minutes of a half,” Keating said, her team now 6-3. “That could be a huge momentum shift. But I think the tone at halftime was we’re not going to let that impact us.”
And they didn’t as South pushed hard for a portion of the second half, with Ella Benzekri scoring a rebound goal at 64:58. North keeper Grace Cardin, who has been solid in helping to direct traffic with her young teammates after missing nearly all of last year with an injury, finished with six saves.
“I’m happy,” Thompson said. “I still think they have a lot of promise for this season, they still keep growing and developing.”
BRIDGE TO SOUTH
The Panthers have captured the Bridge, as they have a 9-4 lead with only a few events left. Golf was postponed due to the weather yesterday and will be played today at Hoodkroft in Derry.
But South won both JV soccer games and freshmen football to clinch the fall Battle.