NASHUA, N.H. – Stellos Stadium hosted two of New Hampshire’s best boys’ soccer teams on Tuesday, but one of those teams left with more to prove moving forward.
The Little Green of Manchester Central easily defeated Nashua South by a final tally of 3-1.
All three goals came in the first half, beginning with a well-positioned strike from Sam Latona in the 15th minute to give Central the early lead.
The Panthers equalized four minutes later as Christopher Dawe found Emanuel Orozco for a score, and it looked like Dawe put South ahead in the 26th minute before his score was negated by an offside call.
Instead, the contest’s next goal came from a wide-open Angel Mora, taking advantage of a deft dribble and pass from Rajabu Hantagimana that dissected the Panthers’ defense.
Hantangimana was key in Central’s third goal as well, drawing a penalty that striker Samuel Assantha slotted home during added time prior to the break.
South did manage occasional opportunities in the second half, but Central proved they could also threaten on the counterattack, pushing eight men back into defense with Assantha and Gavin Lins launching fast breaks whenever the Little Green managed to regain possession.
Assantha actually did find the back of the net on one of those mad scrambles in the closing moments, but like Dawe, saw his goal removed due to an offside call.
“That’s what we try to do. When we got up 3-1, we were trying to get numbers behind the ball and create counters,” said Central Head Coach Chris LaBerge. “We’ve got dangerous players and they had a couple of opportunities they couldn’t finish, but that’s what they were trying to do. They’re a smart group of kids who knew needed to become a counterattack team. First half we were a possession team, we break them down and then adapt as the score dictates.”
LaBerge praised South’s talent, noting that the primary difference was Central’s experience. For South Head Coach Tom Bellen, the game served as an indicator on just how his team has to go to compete with the state’s elite.
“It was a good test for us, they’re top dog right now,” he said. “I think we were competitive with them. I still think we have a ways to catch them, but we have a full season to do it, so I think we’re capable.”
South (2-1-0) heads to Memorial on Friday for a 4 p.m. contest while Central (3-0-0) will host Dover next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Elsewhere Manchester high school boys’ soccer on Tuesday, Memorial (0-2-1) drew 0-0 with Goffstown, West (2-2-0) lost 3-1 at Merrimack Valley. Trinity (3-0-0) defeated Hopkinton 2-1, and Derryfield (1-1-0) defeated Monadnock, 2-0.