Parker Charter’s Amanda Mula controls the ball as Lunenburg’s Miranda Boulay defends during Tuesday’s game. (Sentinel & Enterprise / Nick Mallard)
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LUNENBURG – A slow start.

Lackluster play in the opening half.

One unfortunate sequence.

All these aligned Tuesday afternoon to doom a resilient Lunenburg High side, as visiting Parker Charter claimed a 3-1 road victory over the Blue Knights on the McCarron Artificial Turf Field.

Despite being outplayed in the first half, the hosts found themselves knotted at 1 midway through the third. But the deadlock lasted only three minutes, as some Blue Knight miscommunication led to Lauren Menard breaking in alone for what proved to be the game-winner for Parker.

“It’s nice to rebound and get a win like this. We started the season slowly, losing to this Lunenburg team earlier,” Parker head coach Gabor Romhanyi said. “They had a lot more success in that game, getting in for breakaways. This time, we slowed that down and took advantage of our chances.”

Menard claimed an errant pass that split a pair of Lunenburg players off a Blue Knights free kick, as each appeared to think the other would take control. With the ball on her foot, Menard raced in alone on Lunenburg goalkeeper Olivia Powers, hammering a shot into the net.

The goal came just three minutes after Ava Speidel snuck through the Parker defense to pull Lunenburg even midway through the third quarter.

“It was good to get the equalizer there, but it didn’t last,” Lunenburg head coach Ethan Chessman said. “We had a little bit of a breakdown.”

Elisa Menard – twin sister of the aformentioned Lauren – capped the scoring for the guests with under a minute left in the contest. The Menards are one of two sibling duos on the team, along with senior Morgan Collins and freshman Katie Collins.

“I have the luxury of two pairs of sisters on the team, so they come with a lot of natural chemistry,” Romhanyi said. “It’s easy to build around them.”

The game could have been put far out of reach early in the fourth if not for the play of Powers. The Lunenburg goaltender finished with a dozen stops, including a point-blank save on Lauren Menard in the fourth quarer. A left-footed effort by Lauren Menard also found the post with Parker clinging to a 1-0 lead.

After a pair of Lunenburg rushes to start the game, Parker took control with crisp passes and pressure at midfield whenever the Blue Knights found the ball at their feet.

“The name of the game for us this year is possession,” Romhanyi said. “That’s what we’ve worked on a lot this year: that first six seconds when we have the ball. When we keep it, good things happen and we were able to keep it in their end for most of the first half.”

The Blue Knights were able to withstand Parker’s offensive surges until the ninth minute when Morgan Collins was able to poke a bounding ball into the net. From there, the hosts struggled to string together passes under constant pressure, trailing 1-0 at the break.

“We’re notoriously slow starters. We’re continuing that trend,” Chessman said. “We’ve had a rough stretch and changed formations, so we’re adjusting to that. It was tough, but we were still right there at the half.”

Lunenburg nearly knotted the game in the second quarter as Paige Gengler sent a shot on net from 20 yards out that slipped between the legs on netminder Vivienne Henshaw, but the goalkeeper was able to scramble back to her line to smother the rolling ball.