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September 09. 2013 10:08PM

Central boys' soccer team starting to put it all together

Young players learning in an expanded role and a rocky start.

It’s familiar territory for the Manchester Central boys’ soccer team. The two-time defending Division I state champions are off to a 1-2-0 start and host Concord (2-0-1) tonight at 6:30 at Gill Stadium.

“We lost a lot of tight games early and were able to sort it out by the end last year,” coach Chris LaBerge said. “I suspect we’ll be able to do the same this year.”

Central fell to Merrimack 3-2 in the season-opener at Southern New Hampshire University and then dropped to 0-2 with a 2-0 loss at Hanover.

With much of the Little Green back end on the young side, LaBerge has asked for one thing from them and that is to improve every game.

“I think they came out nervous in the first game. Even in the 2-0 loss to Hanover I was encouraged,” LaBerge said. “I think by October we’ll be all right.”

Another factor early on is the target on Central’s back. A two-time champion can expect the opposition to be revved up.

“The Alvirne game, the intensity of that game was pretty high for the third game of the year,” LaBerge said. “The other teams have a playoff mentality against us. It’s great for us. I can already see us handling it better.”

Central managed a 2-0 win over Alvirne at Gill Stadium Friday night. That result has LaBerge hopeful his Little Green team is on track and Concord will provide a solid measuring stick.

“Concord is good. This is a test for us,” LaBerge said. “They are a perennial contender and I expect them to be in the top four all year.” Among the other matchups to keep an eye on today on the boys’ slate are Coe-Brown of Northwood (2-1-0) visiting Oyster River (2-0-1) in Division II and Gilford visits Laconia in a battle of teams with 2-1-0 records out of the gate in Division III.

In girls’ action, unbeatens clash when Nashua South (1-0-1) visits three-time champion Exeter (3-0-0) in Division I, Belmont (3-0-0) visits Prospect Mountain of Alton (2-1-0) in a Division III battle and ConVal of Peterborough (2-1-0) from DII visits Keene (2-0-0) of DI.


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