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Casey Schehl of Bedford High takes to the air during the first period of his team’s 2-0 victory over Memorial. (Dan Suitor Photo)

Bedford Bulldogs’ regular season winning streak continues into the playoffs

BEDFORD - The Bedford Bulldogs have been perfect all season. They won all 16 regular season games, entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed in Division I and have taken down two resilient opponents to advance to the state semifinals.

But the high-powered Bulldogs&#'; perfect season has contained its share of difficulties.

&#';We&#';ve had an amazing season &#-; our first season in Division I &#-; and also we&#';ve found it tough as well,&#'; head coach Stuart Pepper said. &#';It&#';s been a physically demanding sort of schedule. We&#';ve picked up injuries and all sorts of aches and pains, basically, but I think it&#';s pulled this squad together.&#';

Captains Erik Martel and Casey Schehl have been beaten up, Pepper said, but other players have stepped to the challenge of filling their vacancies.

&#';Daniel Smushkin is a sophomore who has really stretched out in the last four or five games,&#'; said Pepper. &#';Jimmy Heald is another guy, another player that has stepped up when Martel and Schehl have been injured.&#';

Pepper said Martel and Schehl have been extremely impressive all season. They set a positive example of how to play soccer and how to be good competitors, he said, and players like Smushkin and Heald have taken notice.

&#';They&#';ve been unbelievable captains,&#'; Pepper said. &#';Both of them have carried injuries and fought through them.&#';

Another impactful player for the Bulldogs has been Bill Beubd. He anchors the Bedford defense, which never allowed more than one goal in a game all season. The Bulldogs continued that trend of staunch defensive play in the postseason, winning their games against Manchester Memorial 2-0 and Timberlane 2-1.

&#';Bill Neubd has just been an immense defender in the back,&#'; Pepper said. &#';He&#';s been a strong reason why we&#';re so hard to score against.&#';

Bedford has to manage two more wins to complete its undefeated season. No. 4-seed Manchester Central is up next on Thursday, Nov. 1. If the Bulldogs get to the finals, they play the winner of No. 2 Londonderry and No. 3 Hanover. The tournament&#';s final playoff games are to be played at Southern New Hampshire University.

&#';It&#';s been a tough end of season,&#'; Pepper said. &#';At the same time we&#';re in the final four.&#';

Although they came away with wins in their regular season games against all three teams, each victory was by a single goal. The Bulldogs beat Hanover and Londonderry in back-to-back games mid-way through the season, both by 1-0 scores. Bedford closed out its regular season with a 2-1 win over Manchester Central on Oct. 20.

&#';It&#';s just neck-and-neck,&#'; Pepper said. &#';We&#';ve beaten every team, but at the same time, they&#';ve all been close.&#';

Bedford&#';s unbeaten streak hasn&#';t gone unnoticed nationwide. The Bulldogs were recently ranked the No. 3 high school boys soccer team in New England and No. 23 in the country by the National Coaches Association.

&#';For a little, small school in New Hampshire, to actually be recognized on a skill level and a name level is just very unreal,&#'; Pepper said. &#';We&#';re very humbled.&#';

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