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Some Battle of the Bridge moments you may have missed

It remains the highlight of the local high school fall sports season.

The Battle of the Bridge between Nashua North and South brings out the best in local athletes and coaches, and with many of the events in one week, it’s usually a week to remember.

Here’s a look back:

—- Our favorite moment of the whole rivalry week was the post-game hug and chuckle that North coach Josh Downing gave South’s Ethan Emata after the Panther scored three goals to be the difference in Saturday’s 4-1 win. You would have thought the two knew each other, but that wasn’t the case. It was just a great show of sportsmanship on Downing’s part, and was a perfect example of what many want this rivalry, now in its 16th year, to be all about.

“Actually, no,” Downing said when asked if he knew Emata. “I had heard of him, knew he was a good player, but never really had seen him. So for me, I don’t know him at all. I don’t even know his name to be honest. For me, he’s obviously a talented player, he had a hat trick. If we play him again, we’ll make sure to keep an eye on him.”

—- There’s nothing like the atmosphere surrounding the North-South volleyball match. Volleyball is a great spectator sport for schools, but neither team will see that kind of fan support and surrounding until the Division I semis and finals. As South senior Catherine Covert said, “The fan sections are a big part of the game.”

“Just an electric atmosphere in the gym,” North coach Nicole Fitzgibbons said. “It was a great thing all around.”

The thing for the coaches? To get their teams to settle down and not let the crowd dictate what they do. “I told them earlier they were pressing to hard,” South coach Wayne Siejkowski said, talking about the first set when North rallied to tie it up at 20. “They’re not here to play for the fans, it’s just about volleyball. Play fundamental volleyball, and it’ll all take care of itself.”

If anything, that loud crowd will help the Panthers – and Titans – prepare for the tournament.

—– Sure, North and South are having lousy field hockey seasons, but could it get any better than Monday’s 1-0 South overtime win on a penalty stroke? The two teams usually always play a very tight game and two of the last three have gone into overtime.

—- The crowds were good for all events, and we’d probably say the crowd for Friday night’s football game was somewhere around 2,500. It’s tough to estimate when kids are moving all around Stellos. But here are a couple of pet peeves: One, the two North-South football games are one example of why it’s a pain with the YMCA sharing the stadium parking lot. A huge lot is rendered nearly useless. And two, somehow the post-game traffic jam needs to be addressed. It was still a mess nearly an hour after the game.

—-Could North and South play each other in football three times, like they did in 2010, with a playoff matchup? It’s certainly possible if only one team from the East (face it, it’ll be Exeter) makes it. South coach Scott Knight brought up that possibility after the game.

“There’s a chance we could play them (the Titans) two more times,” he said, “so we’ve got some work to do.”

— And finally, if you wonder just how big this rivalry has become, see the words of Panthers boys soccer coach Tom Bellen:

“Battle of the Bridge is always a huge gme,” he said after Saturday’s win. “It’s one of the ones you don’t want to lose, no matter what. You could be 0-15, and if you win that one, you’re season would be a little bit better.”

Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,tking@nashuatelegraph.com, or@Telegraph _TomK.