COMMENTARY: Rematch would be great
They stand 100 yards apart, each with the best seat in the house for one of the Granite State’s great girls soccer rivalries.
Each provides a foundation, a backbone, a lifeline for one of the premier programs in Division II.
They live in bordering towns, and aside from a handful of post-match “good-game” high-fives, they’ve never really spoken.
Souhegan High junior Lily Batchelder and Milford High junior Katie Lorden are the fiercest of goal-keeping rivals – well, as fierce as can be with a smile on their faces.
These two cherish being right there in the heart of the rivalry. Tuesday night, this dynamic duo co-authored another chapter in their epic high school soccer journey as the Spartans and Sabers battled to a 2-2 deadlock.
“They’re always a challenge. They always have a great program. We always look forward to playing them because they will match our intensity and come out strong,” said Souhegan’s Batchelder. “You have to like playing them. It’s interesting to see the intensity. (From the goal-keeper’s spot) you see how bad both teams want it. They’re always giving it their all. With Milford, that’s a guarantee.”
As they say, it takes two to tango, and these two powers did not disappoint. Neither did the keepers.
Whether is was Batchelder ranging high in the penalty area to steer a ball away from an on-charging Spartan forward or Lorden leaping across the goal-mouth to athletically punch a sure goal away, they set the tone for a masterpiece.
“I don’t know her,” Batchelder said of her counterpart. “I just know she’s very good. She just inspires me to work harder.”
Lorden certainly agreed. And both admit they often enjoy the ride.
“I love watching from the back. I mean sure, I learn things, how to play the ball, how to build and help my teammates out,” she said.“But there’s more. It’s pretty great (watching the teams battle). I get pretty into it. I love it. It’s my favorite thing.”
Tuesday night, you could feel the pressure mount as the time wore on in a 2-2 game. The competition, the pressure, the heat … all are the key components that make high school athletics so special.
And like the heat on a batter coming to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with the game on the line in baseball or softball, the spotlight can melt the faint of heart in the goal.
“It’s always tough, I’m always nervous, it’s normal to me,” said Lorden. “Our team motto is ‘I play for you.’ It’s important to take that to heart and use it, especially in tight games like this.”
Batchelder does what she can to minimize the gravity of the situation.
“There is a lot of pressure, you can’t let it get to you,” she said. “You just play it like it’s the first five minutes.”
Obviously, she does it with a modicum of success.
Tuesday night, these two teams and their goalkeepers put on a show.
You can only hope for a Round 3 between these two heavyweights come playoff time. I’ll be honest. It has to happen.
There’s no way I can wait till next year.