MANCHESTER, N.H. – Can the Blue Knights of Manchester West make a case that they are within the NHIAA Division II boys’ soccer elite? Friday certainly was a step in the right direction.
West defeated Oyster River 3-2, handing the Bobcats their first defeat of the year and leaving Division II with just two undefeated teams left heading into the weekend.
That victory did not seem evident after a first half largely dictated by the visitors. Oyster River’s Caleb Chinburg had a wide-open net six minutes into the contest, but it would be Caden Leader that took the first goal of the match for the Bobcats.
Although West grabbed a goal midway through the first half, but the majority of chances were going Oyster River’s way before the half and they would enter the break with a lead thanks to Raphael Rodriguez’ perfectly timed run in stoppage time that put him behind the Blue Knight defense and in perfect position for a scorcher into the left side of the net.
After the half, Hunter Glynn gave West another equalizer and the momentum began to swing as the Blue Knights forced a more physical game on their opponents.
The deciding goal came in the 59th minute off a West corner kick from Amosi. Whipped into the box, what is clear is that Oyster River couldn’t get the ball out of a dangerous position and eventually it ended up in the back of the net, although it isn’t clear whether the ball went in off West’s Prajwal Ghalley or a Oyster River defender.
“John Amosi did pretty good, he placed it right at Prajwal’s head,” said West Head Coach Dan Filardo. “I thought it was an own goal at first, but Prajwal claimed it was a header.”
After that goal, West parked the bus, soaking up the Bobcats’ attack, with only a late Eric Donovan shot off the post posing a significant threat.
For Oyster River Head Coach Akan Ekanem, the dynamic change between the two halves proved critical.
“We had to switch formations because they had a lot of speed. It really shouldn’t have mattered, but we were playing their game,” he said. “We like to play the ball quickly, up and down, and we moved away from that.”
West (3-2-0) now faces Hollis-Brookline next at home on Tuesday (4 p.m.) before a rematches against Kearsarge on Thursday (6 p.m.) and Merrimack Valley the following Tuesday.
In other Manchester boys’ soccer news from Friday, Manchester Memorial (0-3-1) lost 7-1 to the Panthers of Nashua South. Trinity (4-0-0) put up a 1-0 win against Conant, and Derryfield (2-1-0) defeated Laconia, 3-1.
On the girls’ side, Manchester Central (3-1-0) defeated Salem, 3-0. Manchester Memorial (1-3-0) defeated Nashua South, 1-0. Manchester West (0-5-0) lost 10-0 to Oyster River, their second straight 10-0 loss. And in Division III, Derryfield (1-3-0) lost 1-0 to Stevens on Thursday and Trinity (2-3-0) lost 5-3 to Raymond.