Memorial boys stake their claim as D-I contenders

Crusaders take down defending champs.

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Christian Vazquez
Senior Christian Vazquez corrals the ball deep in Windham territory Tuesday night.

MANCHESTER, NH – In defeating defending state champion Windham Tuesday night, the Manchester Memorial High School boys soccer team served notice to the rest of Division I: the Crusaders are here, and they’re for real.

Indeed, Memorial earned a 4-0 victory in front of the home crowd Tuesday, matching a pair of first-half goals with two second-half tallies while goalie Sergio Teruel and the Crusaders defense secured the clean sheet.

The win improved Memorial’s record to 8-2-1 to move the team into a tie for third with Hanover in the D-I standings, two games behind cross-city rival Manchester Central, which earned a 3-1 win over Exeter Tuesday.

“We can’t base anything on paper matchups, or records, or scores based on other teams. It’s only what happens that night and obviously they were better than us,” said Windham head coach Mike Hachey after his squad fell to 7-3-2. “They finished. They had six opportunities and four went in the goal.”

Junior Tyler Telge paced the Crusaders effort, netting two goals in the opening half, the first on an assist from Dollby St. Louis 5:20 into the game and the second off a helper from Artur Moura a little more than 10 minutes later.

Payton Auprey kept the momentum going by redirecting a cross from Moura into the back of the net 3:31 into the second half, and then David Ruge didn’t disappoint when he collected a loose ball in front of the net and capped the scoring for the night with less than seven minutes left in the game.

“We’ve had a lot of chances in many different games where we were not able to finish, and today we were able to,” said first-year Memorial head coach Jerold White. “We got the ball out on the sides and the flanks and were able to get it in and the boys were able to get on top of it so that was a big win for us.”

A large part of Memorial’s success, especially with a new head coach, is the leadership of the team’s captains, said White.

Leading the Crusaders this season are junior center back Merim Husananovic, and seniors Griffin Forbes and Mohamed Bah.

“Merim is a kid who just runs all over and his energy is contagious and his technical skill is great. You know, he’s up in the air, he’s on the ground, and his passing skills are great as well,” said White. “Griffin is in the middle as our central defensive midfielder. His passing skills are incredible. He’s our tempo. And Mohamed is our captain on the bench (due to injury). He’s there giving the guys a lift just by talking to them and encouraging them on the field.”

Now, as Memorial looks to finish the regular season strong, White said he’ll continue to stress hard work and consistency to his talented group of players.

“Today they brought it. This was the level of play that they have. We just need to get to that space every time we play,” he said. “This is year one and I love the way they’re playing. I love the way they’re gelling. I don’t have expectations right now … we’ll see what happens.”

The Crusaders are next scheduled to travel to Hudson and play 4-6-1 Alvirne on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and then host 5-6 Nashua North next Tuesday at 6.

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