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August 22. 2013 11:23PM

Going for three in a row

Central welcomes challenge


From left are Keegan LaBerge, Head Coach Chris LaBerge, and Sam Binogono, during Central High School soccer practice at Livingston Park in Manchester on Thursday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

The Manchester Central boys’ soccer team is on a quest to join select company.

Two-time defending state champion and the winner of three out of four Division I titles, Central will attempt to secure a third consecutive plaque. Only Exeter (from 2001 to 2003) has ever done that in the large-school ranks.

That means that all of Division I will be gunning for the Little Green. And head coach Chris LaBerge wouldn’t want it any other way.

“We want to be prepared for the intensity of our season. Every team is going to give us their best,” LaBerge said. “If we’re on the road, they’re going to have their biggest crowd. It’s a lot more pressure, but it’s exciting.”

According to LaBerge, playing an entire season with heightened pressure should produce a battle-tested team come tournament time.

“We don’t want to approach it as a negative. It’s more exciting for us. Every game is almost a tournament game. It has that feel,” LaBerge said. “It’s a benefit for us because by the time that tournament rolls around, we’ve been tested throughout the year. I think it makes us stronger in the long run.”

Central lost one New Hampshire Union Leader All-State player in Rick Prindiville to graduation, but two others who made that list will be back.

All-State picks Sam Binogono and Keegan LaBerge (coach’s son) will return for their senior seasons looking to win their third state title.

“We have our best two players back from last year who were both first team All-State, so we’re pretty happy about that,” LaBerge said. “We have those two plus six or seven returning players. We have some sophomores who played a ton last year.”

David Gagnon, who served as the backup last season, will be the top goaltender. Junior Alec Patterson will push him for playing time, LaBerge said.

Central opens the season a week from today against Merrimack at Southern New Hampshire University.

“For us it’s a special treat to play at Southern New Hampshire,” LaBerge said. “I’m looking forward to the season starting. It’s been 14 years I’ve been doing it and we’ve been on a good run and I hope to keep it going.”


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