Dark & stormy
AMHERST – Tuesday’s high school soccer match had the intensity of a playoff match and enough fog to fill a haunted house.
Was it late October already? No, just a regular-season game between the Milford and Souhegan girls soccer teams.
Both teams brought energy from the start, and a loud and engaged student section from each school helped keep it that way throughout. The score was tied 1-1 at halftime, when a thick fog rolled in, covering the field for most of the second half, when the Sabers scored twice to take a 3-1 victory over the Spartans.
Hannah Chick had a goal and two assists for Souhegan (4-2 in Division II) while Emma Estabrook added a goal and an assist as the Sabers won their second straight. Milford (3-2) got a goal from Alyza Sayward and Casey Phelps stopped 19 shots, as the loss snapped the Spartans three-game win streak.
“I thought they brought a lot of intensity and desire and they fought really hard,” Souhegan coach Amy Sparks said. “It’s a big rivalry, always is, and both teams really wanted it, both teams fought hard.”
Milford coach Russ Matthews was also pleased with the way the Spartans started the game, and stressed to the players after how important it was to do that every time out.
“I thought we matched their intensity,” he said. “That was one of the points we talk about all the time, can we come out and not have a letdown. I think we set a new plateau for ourselves. Anything less isn’t going to be acceptable, so it doesn’t matter if we’re playing Souhegan or somebody else, we should start there at least.”
Both teams had chances early on, but midway through the first half, Souhegan took control of possession, as Chick had several opportunities to put the ball on net. But a couple of chances sailed wide, and others were stopped by Phelps.
“It did feel like it was going to come,” Sparks said of the first goal. “I think you can feel it. I think we knew it (Tuesday), that it was going to happen. I think we did have most of the play, we had a little more possession and a little more control.”
Estabrook played the ball into the box from the right and Chick was able to head it through traffic, just out of the reach of Phelps to put Souhegan up 1-0 in the 19th minute.
“Hannah is very good in the air,” Matthews said. “We knew that we had to find her and we didn’t find her on the first goal. It’s tough when there’s someone of that caliber in the middle of the field and her teammates are looking to find her.”
But the Sabers barely had time to celebrate, as Sayward sent a direct kick into the far corner of the next, arcing a shot just out of reach of Elizabeth Silvia-Chandley (four saves).
“It’s hard to judge the angle, but it was nice and lofted,” Matthews said. “It was perfect. It swings momentum a little bit. We have a mental toughness on this team where we just don’t want to give up. I think that’s good.”
Sparks thought it was a great goal despite it tying the game.
“What a beautiful shot that was,” she said. “It was a gorgeous goal. We’ve talked a lot about that as a team, that when we do have something like that happen, they have to dig deep and stay calm and play their game. It will come and it did. I think that was because they kept their heads.”
It took some time, but Chick returned the favor for Estabrook in the 54th minute to put Souhegan on top for good.
“They play really well together,” Sparks said. “It’s fantastic to have and what I really liked about (Tuesday) was that they each served the other. They each had an assist on the other’s goal. That’s great because it shows versatility, it shows they’re helping each other out and doing what they need to.”
Souhegan got an insurance goal from Christa Voudenberg in the 78th minute, off a corner kick by Chick, to finish out the win.