NASHUA,NH – Nashua High School South’s Sammy Hadouche is an easy soccer player to describe.
“The kid just scores goals, man,” Panthers coach Tom Bellen said. “And he gets big ones. And he gets crazy ones. He’s done it all year, did it in the Finals last year. Those are big goals.”
Hadouche scored two big goals on Sunday, including the game-winner in a 3-1 No. 2 South Division I quarterfinal win over No. 7 Manchester Memorial at Stellos Stadium. The 15-3 Panthers, as a result, will move on to face No. 6 Manchester Central in the semifinals Wednesday at Exeter’s Bill Ball Stadium at 4 p.m. Central actually snapped South’s long unbeaten streak at 24 games with a 5-1 win back on Sept. 16.
Sunday’s quarterfinal game was tied at 1 when a Memorial foul at midfield that resulted in a yellow card for Crusader Tyler Telge led to a South free kick 10 minutes into the second half.
Dangerous? Maybe, but what are the odds from that far out, some 50 yards. As it turned out, pretty good for the Panthers, as South’s Marlon Brocher boomed it over the line of players that were at the 20 and Hadouche basically one timed it in past Crusader keeper Yousif Hikmat for a 2-1 South lead.
“Brilliant ball,” Bellen said, “and an even better finish.”
In the first half, Hadouche had given South a 1-0 lead, shooting on the run after a brilliant feed down the middle from Jadiel Bomfim 13 minutes into the game. The Crusaders, however, were able to tie it when a corner kick deflected off a Purple jersey and went in past keeper Ansh Khanna at 29:50 of the half.
Memorial’s Merim Husanovic appeared closest to the ball and could be credited with the score.
Khanna (four saves) otherwise was brilliant for the Panthers, stopping the always dangerous Crusader striker Dollby St. Louis on a breakaway just 10 minutes into the game, just over three minutes before Hadouche got his first goal.
“He played great,” Bellen said of Khanna. “That was his best game of the year.”
“I thought we had enough chances, we just didn’t finish them,” Crusaders coach Jerold White said. “We had four chances in the first half, two breakaways, two wide open ones, that’s where we were. We just didn’t finish our chances.”
The Crusaders down a goal, kept the pressure on Khanna late, St. Louis shooting one good chance just wide with about 10 minutes left and Khanna stopping a shot by Peyton Auprey shortly after. South’s Rory Olsen got the clincher for the Panthers in the final two minutes.
“You go back and forth, back and forth, that game was in waves,” Bellen said. “But the one thing I’ve said all year, we can score. It depends on how smart we play the rest of the game. … When we kept the good rhythm with the ball, it’s hard to play with us. We’ve got too much firepower, it’s too difficult for teams.
“Although Memorial can do it. We were just a little bit better than them today.”