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Bedford has a ball with Panthers’ stall in South semis loss

By Tom King - Staff Writer | Jun 4, 2023

Nashua South's Ella Benzekri (14) is harrassed from behind by Bedford's Oliva Matthews (2) and in front by Bulldog Kira Abdelsayed during Saturday's Division I semifinals in Exeter. (Telegraph photo by TOM KING)

EXETER – The Nashua High School South girls lacrosse team used a delay tactic in its Division I semifinal vs. top seed Bedford at Bill Ball Stadium on Saturday.

The only problem was, the Panthers were only delaying the inevitable.

While Bedford didn’t have the ball during those moments, the No. 4 Panthers couldn’t score. Thus they fell 13-0 to the Bulldogs, ending an otherwise super season on a down note.

“We can’t keep possession like that, we were getting some good looks,” South coach Ciki McIntire said. “But we want to get some shots off and kind of penetrate a little bit, which we weren’t able to do today for whatever reason.

“We were able to waste time a little bit and get into a play, but their defense is really strong.”

The ‘Dogs, now 17-1, will face Portsmouth here Tuesday night in the finals. It will be a far different game then, with a much faster pace. But yesterday Bedford, which got six goals from Olivia Matthews and five by Regan O’Brien, was patient enough to wait out the 15-5 Panthers. Eventually they’d get the ball back and score.

“As we were able to get possessions and score, it didn’t matter if they wanted to kill the clock for us,” Bedford coach Christine Hodgdon said. “It worked out in our favor.”

Bedford didn’t get thrown off its rhythm.

“We kind of knew it was a slow down offense, and they only had a few threats,” Hodgdon said. “So we knew we had to stay composed and wait for our defense to play together.”

And did they ever. South junior scoring leader Ella Benzekri had little room to operate. And in the very few times the Panthers were able to muster a shot on goal,, Bedford goalies Abigail Weidner and Grace Steward were there, combining for four saves.

“They were sending extra people to Ella, and we just had to move the ball a little bit more,” McIntire said. “We just got outside ourselves today.”

Still, South was keeping it somewhat close, trailing 6-0 at the half. But the best season the Panthers have had in 16 years came to a close, and McIntire will have fond memories of it despite the loss.

“Oh my gosh, they are just amazing,” McIntire said of her players. “It’s been a pleasure every single day. It’s the season you don’t want to end, because it’s just so awesome.”


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