Souhegan falls to Windham in D-II quarterfinals

WINDHAM – The Souhegan High School boys soccer team was one of only two to defeat defending Division II champion Windham this season. However, the Sabers couldn’t turn the trick twice.

Windham scored two goals less than a minute apart in the second half to eke out a 2-1 win Sunday afternoon in the D-II boys soccer quarterfinals. The Jaguars move on to face No. 4 Oyster River in the semifinals on Thursday.

“I think the wind definitely played a factor,” Souhegan coach David Saxe said. “The second one they got tucked in behind the guy; long ball like that the best thing to do is react. Tough break.”

Everything went Souhegan’s way in the first 40 minutes. The defense, led by the duo of Reed Larson and Kyle Richardson at the center back possessions, was able to precisely fragment Windham’s attack and kept the Jaguar offense nearly silent.

The Sabers countered well and it paid off when Liam Rendall fired a rocket into the far corner of the goal to put Souhegan up 18 minutes into the game.

“I didn’t even think about shooting it,” Rendall said. “Just hit it off my chest and shot it. Didn’t even realize it went in.”

Once the second half kicked off Windham showed why it went 14-2 in the regular season. The Jaguars outshot the Sabers 6-0 in the final 40 minutes and blitzed the Souhegan defense from the start. The Jaguars broke through when James Baiguy finessed a ball through a crowd and past Teigue Young to tie the game.

A minute later a ball played in from near the midline was redirected by a header from Andrew Lowman to put the Jaguars ahead for good.

“There were just times when we played the ball to them and didn’t play it forward,” Rendall said. “Tried to play it long and they capitalized. They’re a tall team and that helped them in the corners.”

Souhegan regrouped in the final 10 minutes and pressed Windham. Several chances went wide of goal including a last-gasp shot from inside the box by Mike Hayden that buzzed over the crossbar.

“Mike’s been fantastic all year, and Liam’s been doing a good job,” Saxe said. “It’s really tough to lose those guys.”

The loss ends Souhegan’s season at 9-9. The Sabers won consecutive games three times throughout the year, but also lost consecutive games three times as well.

Saxe said that he was pleased with his team’s performance and went on to say that the future for his program looks bright.

“We got a pretty young team; we got some high quality seniors,” Saxe said. “We’re always trying to learn and get better, and we have. We’ve learned a lot from the times we lose, but it isn’t about winning every single game. It’s about getting better and better so when we get to game 17 we’re peaking. I think we did a pretty good job of that.”