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SNHU men’s soccer team seeks to advance

The winning streak currently stands at 19, but Southern New Hampshire University head coach Marc Hubbard said according to his math, the number is much smaller.

“At this stage of our season we’re only concerned with a one-game winning streak, winning the very next game,” said Hubbard.

The Penmen (19-1) have advanced to the NCAA East Region final, hosted by Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa. SNHU will face LIU Post on Friday at 10 a.m. Mercyhurst (16-5) will play Millersville (Pa.) University (13-5-2) in the second game at 1 p.m. for the Atlantic Region crown.

The two winners will meet in a national quarterfinal game Sunday at 1 p.m.

Southern New Hampshire, currently ranked No. 1 in the latest NSCAA Division II national poll, is making its fourth appearance in the East Region final in the past five seasons.

Last Saturday, former Manchester Memorial standout Christian Rodriguez scored twice to lead the Penmen to a 3-0 victory over Wilmington (Del.) University in the second round of the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship at Larkin Field.The Penmen have won 19 straight games since losing their season-opener at home, 1-0, to Post University.

The Penmen have notched 12 shutout wins and have not allowed a goal over their last six games. The Penmen have out-scored their opponents 54-8 this season in 20 games.

Hubbard said his team has worked hard all season and that every individual knows his role and executes it.

In the Northeast-10 tournament, the Penmen defeated St. Rose (5-0) in the quarterfinals, Adelphi (1-0) in the semifinals and Merrimack (1-0) in the finals. They followed up with a 3-0 blanking of Wilmington.

Rodriquez, Pierre Omanga and Brian Francolini each have three post-season goals to lead the Penmen. Ken Doublette has three assists.

Hubbard said his program continues to search for talented players from New Hampshire and he currently has four Granite Staters on his roster. Midfielders Rodriguez and Ryan Simpson, both from Memorial, Yannick Kabala, formerly of Manchester Central and Windham’s Andrew Pesci, a freshman goalie who has not played this season, represent the state.

Hubbard said he was happy to see Rodriguez, a senior, excel in his final career home game last Saturday.

“I’ve seen a young man mature whose getting an education and creating a good life for himself and his family,” said Hubbard. “Yannick has come a long way in his steady progression and Ryan is still learning as a sophomore. Collectively we have so many important pieces which has helped us gel as a team. But we still have goals to accomplish as a team and we’re heading to Mercyhurst in hopes of attaining them.”

Manchester Central coach Chris LaBerge said Kabala is still doing the same things he did as a Little Green player.

“Only its being done at a quicker and higher level. He’s an impact player and watching him and Rodriguez makes me feel proud. I mean we have two high quality players from Manchester who have contributed heavily to SNHU’s success this season.”

LaBerge said SNHU is feeding off last year’s loss to Mercyhurst.“There’s no doubt they should have won that game last year,” said LaBerge. “The difference this year is they’re finishing their plays. This is a talented team which creates many scoring opportunities. Because SNHU is playing at a high level on defense, teams playing them can only hope to hang with them late in the game. They know if SNHU gets a one- or two-goal lead, they’re facing an uphill battle. In my mind, SNHU’s the best team heading into the next round and I hope they go all the way.”

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