Sophomore standouts spark Central success

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Grace Manning, left, celebrates her 100th point with teammate Olivia Wheeler, right, who matched the accomplishment a day later. Cindy Lavigne photo/Lavignes Live Shots

MANCHESTER – Twenty-four hours after Manchester Central High School midfielder Grace Manning scored eight goals to eclipse 100 points in this, her second year of varsity girls lacrosse, sophomore classmate Olivia Wheeler celebrated the same accomplishment.

Both milestones were accompanied by victories – first a 19-7 win over city-foe Trinity on Wednesday night, and then an 11-3 triumph over visiting Con-Val Thursday evening – to improve the Little Green’s record to 6-4 and push them into a tie for eighth in the Division-II standings.

“I think we’ve come a long way. The players are starting to fit together and gel a little better. Everything is starting to come along,” said Central Head Coach Jackie Lane, “and it’s fun to be out here, competing at the level, instead of being at the other end of the spectrum over in D-I where we were last year.”

The move to D-II this offseason has certainly helped place the Little Green in a more competitive field, but Manning and Wheeler have proven they can score at any level.

“We were playing in D-I last year, so that’s against really good teams – the Pinkertons, the Exeters, the BGs, the Bedfords – they were consistently putting in goals,” said Lane. “I really call them the one-two punch. They really take a lot of our offensive load.”

“Most people, if they’re going to get 100 points, it’s in four consecutive years, not two, so they’re both on track to get 200 (by the end of their senior seasons in 2025), which is crazy. It may even be a Manchester record … so I think it’s pretty cool for two sophomores to do that.”

Wheeler’s feat Thursday came courtesy of a five-goal performance, while Manning scored eight in her milestone affair the night before and added two goals against Con-Val.

Though Manning and Wheeler form the point of Central’s spear, the Little Green’s success this season has been due to contributions up and down the roster, said Lane.

“The freshman are starting to step up, we have a lot of underclassmen taking big roles on this team and we have great leadership as well,” she said.

Tianna Mann moves the ball up the field. Cindy Lavigne photo/Lavignes Live Shots

The Little Green are right back at it for a third-consecutive game as they look to break a tie for eighth in a home matchup with Winnacunnet today at 4 p.m.

After a well-earned three-day rest, Central has back-to-back road matchups at Kennett in Conway on Monday and then at Salem Wednesday before returning home for clashes with Goffstown and Keene-Monadnock on the May 19th and 22nd, respectively. The Little Green then close the regular season at Timberlane on the 25th.



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About this Author

Ryan O'Connor

As a longtime journalist in Southern New Hampshire, Ryan O'Connor has written for several local online and print publications covering everything from school board meetings and local high school sporting events to major crime stories and New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary (yes, the last two are mutually exclusive). In addition to spending time with his beautiful wife and four amazing children, Ryan enjoys attending and serving at church, golfing as much as possible, home brewing, playing softball and snowboarding when time allows.