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Soccer

On the verge of greatness

2014 HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER PREVIEW

  • The WLC girls soccer team lost to Sunapee 4-2 in the quarterfinals of the NHIAA DIV playoffs on Nov. 2 2013.
  • Mascenic's boys soccer team lost to Pelham 4-2 on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
  • ConVal's girls soccer team beat Manchester West 6-0 on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
  • The Conant girls soccer team lost to Campbell 3-0 on Conant's Senior Day, October 10, 2013.
  • The WLC boys soccer team defeated Derryfield 1-0 on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013.
  • The ConVal boys soccer team played Coe-Brown to a 1-1tie  in overtime on Oct. 8, 2013.
  • Conant and ConVal boys and girls soccer faced each other in their annual interdivisional showdown on Tuesday, Oct. 15. ConVal completed a sweep, with the girls winning 4-0 and the boys winning 6-0.

The fall sports season kicks off today with a pair of soccer games, and before you know it, the action will be in full swing. Here’s what you need to know about the area high school teams heading into the soccer season.

Mascenic

Head coach: Rob Jewell

Last year’s record: 10-6-1

First game: Friday at Concord Christian Academy

The Vikings lost some key seniors to graduation including Matt Cyr, Luke Moran, Sarah Sharp and Brandon Gardner, but new head coach Rob Jewell believes he has the talent to fill the holes left behind.

“I have a good group of guys who have been waiting for their time to shine,” said Jewell.

“Lucky for me, this is a year with a strong group of seniors. They are really good with the team and have the respect of the underclassmen,” said Jewell.

Senior speedster Jared Stauffeneker and fellow senior midfielder Nick Jewell will lead the team as captains. Seniors Connor Heim and Jarred Nolin should also play key roles.

Jewell plans to switch the lines around this season in order to help his players work better as a team. “They played as individuals last year — that is what I’m trying to fix,” said Jewell, who likes the way his team is coming together.

“I need to shape some of our young goalkeepers up to the level Matt Cyr was at,” said Jewell, who has been coaching soccer for more than 10 years. Despite this being his first job at the high school level, Jewell believes he is walking into the best situation possible.

“Our front line is strong. Now we are trying to build a defense,” said Jewell, who said he has coached some of the kids on the team and known most of the players for years.

ConVal Girls

Head coach: Dave Springfield

Last year’s record: 8-8-1

First game: Today vs. Goffstown, 4 p.m.

The Cougars have a new coach for the upcoming season, as David Springfield takes the reigns. Eric Bowman will assist him as they try to lead the club to a successful season.

The team lost eight starters to graduation and transfers including senior standouts Zoe Paige, Haley Zanga and Meghan Close.

“Our main focus is on getting a little better everyday, both collectively and individually. We also have put major emphasis on conditioning and toughness. We have been also working on the mental part of competing and the belief that you are the best player and we are the best team on the field and understanding how that gives you an edge with your competition,” said Springfield.

With a talented and athletic roster, the Cougars have a chance to do something special if they can play together as a team. With only four seniors, the Cougars are a young group for a varsity team and will have to play smart beyond their years.

This season, the Cougars will switch up the game plan from seasons past.

“We are playing a 4-2-3-1 formation in order to try and create more scoring opportunities and also allow the girls to be more creative,” Springfield said. “Patience and trust from everyone involved in the program will be needed as we transition into a new system with new coaches and players that will need to get used to each other at the Division II varsity level.”

WLC Boys

Head coach: Stephen Martus

Last year’s record: 10-6-1

First game: Friday at Concord Christian Academy

The Warriors are faced with filling 10 spots between their varsity and junior varsity rosters, as only 21 student athletes came out for the team. “A lot of our year-round soccer players graduated last year, but I have a motivated group,” said Martus, who says that he hopes to get a few more boys to walk onto the team once school starts.

“We need to play together more and a have new game plan. This year will be about building the play up, finding the person in the right spot, really going back to basics,” said Martus.

The Warriors lost three of its four defenders in Connor Holt, John Lamire, and Brandon Hussey, along with all of the team’s captains from last year.

“Biggest thing is working on transition from defense to offense. We will be looking for leadership,” said Martus.

Some of that leadership should stem from senior keeper Connor Melrose, one of the remaining Warriors with a championship under his belt. The defense should be strong for the Warriors, with senior Chris Ballou as an anchor.

Conant Girls

Head coach: Whit Aldrich

Last year’s record: 0-15-1

First game: Friday vs. Stevens

The Orioles will field a young varsity team this fall, a problem that coach Whit Aldrich hopes to fix in the near future.

“The major goal this year is to get the junior varsity team together, they are the feeder,” said Aldrich.

The Orioles have just one senior, Alysha Smith, to go along with four juniors, five sophomores, and four freshman. “We will have 12 freshman play JV and five sophomores that will swing,” said Aldrich.

Despite his club’s lack of experience, Aldrich believes the girls can take a step forward this season. “We lost three out of four forwards, an outside back and a center mid. Those holes can absolutely be filled,” said Aldrich, whose team dropped too many close games last fall.

“We played a lot of close games, we just had problems finishing,” said Aldrich.

The Orioles will try to notch some wins this season, and Aldrich has seen some important qualities to do so throughout the preseason.

“I see a lot of positive attitude on this team. They have a hard work ethic, and are pushing one another. It’s a pleasure to be around this team,” said Aldrich.

WLC Girls

Head coach: Bill Draper

Last year’s record: 12-6

First game: Friday at Concord Christian Academy

The Warriors are primed for another successful campaign. With 16 returning players, the club has the experience of playing together and should have no problem continuing the teams good chemistry.

Goalkeeper Cori Balam returns, something coach Bill Draper believes goes a long way in helping his girls get off to a fast start. “Our keeper is back which is huge. We have girls ready to slide into the positions we lost. It’s still early, but we should be in decent shape. We’ve got power and speed, just need to shake some rust off. Most of these girls have played together before, which should help,” said Draper.

The Warriors return eight starters from last season and Draper has been impressed with the girls’ tendency to be aggressive towards the ball during the preseason. The team will be lead by senior captains Jenna Bragdon and Lorrie Blais.

“Those girls have been there, and will be good leaders for us,” said Draper, who believes his club has enough talent to make a deep postseason run. After last year’s senior leaders Kim Edmunds, Sami Bosquet and Sophie LeVert saw their soccer careers end on a tough loss to Sunapee in the quarterfinals, the Warriors will look to advance even further this year.

ConVal Boys Soccer

Head coach: Scott Daniels

Last year’s record: 9-5-2

First game: Today at Goffstown

The Cougars will rely on returning contributers Stephen Twitchell, Alec Miller, Noah Cail, Ian Szep, Nate Sullivan, Tejas Moses, and Dan Schoelmer for the upcoming season.

The club has 12 players who will be experiencing varsity soccer for the first time this fall.

“We will be looking to replace a lot of scoring from last year, after losing Austin Wheeler and Campbell French, as well as our defensive captain, Riley Henry,” said head coach Scott Daniels.

The Cougars also lost additional senior starters in the midfield and defense. Micah Black, Matt Kolk, Max Sturgis, Nile Hertzler, Nate Sullivan, and senior Ian Szep will all be factors on offense, while Tim Burgess, Isaac Bacon, Brian Zimardo, Caleb Marshall, and Alec Miller will be tasked with replacing Henry’s leadership on defense.

“Our goals for the season are to improve, both as individuals and as a team, with each practice and game. We are trying to integrate a lot of new players into the program and it is going to take some time gel as a group as well as figure out the who we are as a team. Obviously we also hope to make the playoffs this season and continue Conval’s strong tradition as a soccer program,” said Daniels.

Conant Boys Soccer

Head coach: Cole Griffin

Last year’s record: 1-13-1.

First game: Friday at Bishop Brady

The Orioles face the daunting task of filling the shoes of starting goalie Tyler Desmarais, who graduated last year.

“In my opinion, he was one of the best keepers in the state. That’s a really tough hole to fill,” said coach Cole Griffin during a recent interview. Aside from Desmarais, the Orioles lost seniors Eli Hodgson, Aidan Russel and Brian Yaceshyn.

“I’m confident that guys will step up and fill those holes,” said Griffin. The Orioles will have the services of senior Cody Martin, a transfer from Fall Mountain.

The Orioles played in a soccer jamboree at Keene State College last weekend, and Griffin was pleased with his team’s willingness to attack the net.

“I Like that we are more of an attacking team this year. We have guys that are willing to go out and take the shot for us,” said Griffin. The Orioles will be lead by captains Nate Wheeler, Simeon Hodgson, and CJ Bilodeau, who Griffin describes as “the best all around players we have, and definitely leaders.”

Wheeler, a senior, is similarly confident in the team’s outlook for the coming season.

“With Cody Martin moving here from Fall Mountain, he brings a lot of talent and experience. I’m seeing a lot of hard work from the guys right now which is great. Realistically I seriously have the confidence in a playoff run this year. I think with the work we are putting in and talent, we have an opportunity to win a decent amount of games. This is the best team I’ve played with in my opinion,” said Wheeler.

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