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Cards recover to extend Panthers’ tough stretch, 3-1

By Tom King - Staff Writer | Oct 1, 2023

Nashua South's Ava Kopicko heads the ball away from Bishop Guertin's Martha Lord (10) as Panther Soraya Ross (16) and Marianna Mejia Estrada look on during Saturday's game at Stellos Stadium. (Telegraph photo by TOM KING)

NASHUA – There was hope early that the slump would be over.

The Nashua High School South girls soccer team grabbed a 1-0 lead over Bishop Guertin just 1:32 into Saturday’s Division I clash at Stellos Stadium.

The goal came from one of the Panthers’ top players, Soraya Ross, and when the speedy senior scores, usually good things happen.

But Guertin also has a top player in Martha Lord, and she answered just a few minutes later, then assisted on a go-ahead goal shortly after, and South was on its way to its fifth straight loss, 3-1.

“It was unfortunate we gave up two goals in the first half, one relatively quickly after we scored,” South coach Lauren Keating said, her team now 5-6 after starting the season an impressive 5-1. “I think I saw some positives out there that I think we can build upon…

“We’ve played some of the top teams in the state all in a short span. Unfortunately when you have all those teams come together, it makes it tough. We’ve played strong against them all; it just hasn’t gone the way we’ve wanted it.”

Guertin, meanwhile, is on a streak in the other direction, winning its seventh straight after a loss to Timberlane in the fourth game of the season to stand at 10-1 with five games left.

“Obviously we started a little slow, a little flat,” Guertin coach Winston Haughton said. “They scored a crackin’ goal, but my girls woke up. I knew they would eventually wake up, and when they did, we got enough done. We looked to see how they’d respond, and they responded well.”

Of course it helps to have a player like Lord, who fed Kelsey Ackerman for the go-ahead goal that made it 2-1,a lead the Cards took into the half.

South wasn’t really able to pressure BG keeper Jessica LaCroix, but the Cards kept South keeper Lilee Petricca (six saves) busy and got an insurance goal on a break in by Ava Suech nearly 10 minutes into the second half to make it 3-1.

“We controlled it,” Haughton said. “We didn’t push for another one (in the last 20 minutes of the first half) just yet, I think the team knows it can play in spurts.”

It didn’t help the Panthers that they were without another speedy senior, Ella Benzekri, out with a sore leg. Ross, meanwhile, has had to play all over the field, up front to start yesterday and then moving back defensively, then back up front when the Panthers were trailing by two.

“We definitely would have liked (Benzekri) in there,” Keating said. “I give Soraya a lot of credit. … That (being all over) makes for a good player.”

But unfortunately for the Panthers, it didn’t make for an end to their tough stretch, while BG’s prosperity continues since that loss to the Owls way back on Sept. 14.

“You’re going to find lessons in every performance,” Haughton said. “And certainly when you lose, you probably find the most lessons.”

South, however, has had enough of the learning.


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