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Concord soccer blanked by top-seeded Exeter in D-I semifinals

  • Exeter High School striker Ella Fraser (right) tries to kick the ball free from the grasp of Concord goalie Autumn Nudd during the second half of Thursday night’s Division I girls’ soccer semifinal game at Stellos Stadium in Nashua. Exeter beat Concord, 1-0. RYAN O’LEARY /

  • Exeter’s Eva Hays (right) works against Concord’s Allison Silverstein during Thursday’s Division I semifinal game at Stellos Stadium in Nashua. Exeter defeated Concord, 1-0. RYAN O’LEARY /

Portsmouth Herald
Published: 11/7/2019 9:55:57 PM
Modified: 11/7/2019 9:55:45 PM

NASHUA – The rain never let up on Thursday night, but neither did the Blue Hawks.

Junior Ella Fraser’s breakaway goal snapped a scoreless tie with 29:31 remaining in regulation, and the top-seeded Exeter High School girls’ soccer team ended three years of Division I semifinal frustration with a 1-0 win over No. 5 Concord at Stellos Stadium.

In their fourth consecutive appearance, the Blue Hawks (18-0) are finally through to state final for the first time since 2014.

“It feels good to finally get back,” Fraser said. “We wanted it so bad. Last year it was heartbreaking to lose in the semis. This year, it’s really exciting.”

The game was played in an unrelenting rain that left the bleachers decorated in umbrellas and the sidelines covered in puddles.

Not much happened in the first half, which came and went with no score. But the Blue Hawks were able to cash in on what had been a dominant territorial advantage throughout when Fraser bolted between two Concord defenders for the first touch on the ball and was off to the races.

One on one with the Concord goalkeeper Autumn Nudd, Fraser calmly picked the far corner for her second goal of these playoffs.

“Not only does she have speed, but she has a quick first step,” Exeter coach Megan Young said. “As soon as I saw her get that first step behind their defense, I knew she was off. She’s been working on finishing those breakaways, and she did a great job of it tonight.”

In the sloppy conditions, one goal was enough for Exeter to post its 15th shutout of the season. It will be Exeter vs. Londonderry in Sunday’s championship at 5 p.m. at Manchester Memorial High School.

The Crimson Tide closed its season at 14-5 overall, stunning fourth-seeded and perennial power Bedford en route to the final four.

“I’m really proud of our team for making it this far this year. Halfway through the season it didn’t look like this was possible, but they really pulled it together,” Concord coach Phil Tuttle said. “They came together as a team to make this possible. I’m incredibly proud of this senior class for leading the way. They have definitely left their mark on the program. We are sad to see them go, but excited for the future of our program.”

Concord battled hard throughout, but just couldn’t get much pressure against an Exeter team that’s surrendered just three goals in 18 games this season.

“It was crazy enough beating Bedford,” Concord senior midfielder Allison Silverstein said. “We were like, ‘How did that happen?’ We just had so much momentum and we wanted to keep going.

“I feel like we were too nice. We kind of let them have too many shots. … We just didn’t have the heart, and we really needed the heart for it.”

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