By Chris Paul
After the Londonderry High School Boys’ Soccer squad finished with an impressive 12-4 record in the regular season, they headed into the Division I Championship as the number five seed, securing a first round home game.
That home field advantage wasn’t able to give them a leg up on the #12 seed from Exeter High School.
In that game, the Lancers were shocked in a 3-2, overtime, shootout loss and they were on the wrong side of a controversial call.
In the regular season, Londonderry’s year began with a home victory over the Blue Hawks and they went into the playoffs feeling pretty confident about their chances.
The Lancers took an early lead in the first-round playoff game with junior forward, Zach Mantegari, scoring from a pass from senior Jake Nussdorf just six-minutes into the first half.
Londonderry took that lead into the second half of the game, but the Blue Hawks stormed back early in the period, with two goals, early, putting LHS on their heels.
The second half began with a collision between Londonderry and the Exeter tender, forcing the starter out of the game.
The injury seemed to spark two quick goals at 42:27 and 43:55 in the game. Both plays had Exeter scorers one-on-one with LHS tender, Jason Reilly.
The tying Londonderry goal came after Brett McKinnon was tripped just outside the Exeter goal in the 67th minute.
Junior Zach Mantegari put the penalty kick in for the 2-2 result.
After two scoreless extra periods, the game was decided on penalty kicks, where LHS came up one-goal shy.
The two teams traded shots in the first two rounds to end in a 1-1 result.
In the third round, Exeter’s shot went high, over the net, then Tiango Keyes had a goal called off due to a stutter step taken on the approach, which led to the EHS win. Officials claimed he came to a stop, Lancers fans disagreed.
Reilly had five saves during the game, while Exeter tenders made six blocks.
The Londonderry side disagreed with the call made against Keyes and an appeal that was filed, but the call stood.
Needless to say, head coach, Todd Ellis, wasn’t happy with the result, commenting after the game, “This is my hardest comment to write of the season. We needed to play better today to win, and Exeter, for about 25 minutes, had us on our heels. However, for both officials to wrongly pull back one of our PKs to decide the game, and to not allow my player to retake the kick, by rule is wrong.”
He added, ” I applaud the school for their efforts to try and rectify this wrong, but the NHIAA and Soccer Committee should want better. I will just leave it at that.”
Ellis was pleased with the season overall, saying, “The team had a good season, and I applaud them for their efforts through out. Best of luck to our graduating 13 seniors as they move on.”