CV, WLC set to reload for 2013
The ConVal boys soccer team dropped its regular season finale 2-1 to John Stark on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012
(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
mascenic bois soccer v hillsboro
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Wilton-Lyndeborough boys soccer vs. Nute Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
Only two of the four local boys soccer teams made it to postseason play last year and neither made it out of the first round.
The plan is to change that this season.
While teams lost some significant players from last year, there is plenty of talent still remaining. It may take some time, but by the end of the season all four teams will look much different.
After losing 11 seniors, third-year coach Jon Hall has his work cut out for him entering next week’s season opener.
Not only did Hall lose more than half of his team, but he also lost seven starters from a team that did not allow a single opponent to score more than two goals.
“It was a core group that had been playing together since they were kids,” said Hall.
But even with all that experience and talent, the Cougars lost in the first round of the Division II tournament for a second straight year.
And while it will not be easy to replace all that production, Hall still likes what he has seen so far.
There is plenty of experience returning this year with a lot of players who have seen a significant amount of playing time. It will be a work in progress, but Hall expects to see a much different team as the season goes along.
“It will depend on how quickly they become a unit,” said Hall. “I’ve got talent to work with. I’m excited to see how they come together.”
Last year’s defense was one of the best in the division and with the likes of seniors Riley Henry and Brendan Grenier returning, the Cougars have a strong base. Junior Alex Miller, who tore his ACL last year, is healthy and freshman Isaac Bacon will be a nice addition to the mix.
Senior Liam McNally takes over full time in goal after playing in a back up role the last two years. But McNally got quite a few starts last year with Harrison LeFlem out with an injury and proved to be capable of doing the job.
“He had some really quality starts,” said Hall. “He has great instincts and is a great shot stopper.”
The midfield line is stacked with experience, starting with senior Campbell French in the middle, along with senior Nick Phillips and juniors Ian Szep and Stephen Twitchell.
Szep and Phillips could also see time at forward to complement senior Austin Wheeler. Wheeler ranked second on the team in goals a year ago and is primed for a big season.
Freshman Nile Hertzler will also play a big part on the midfield and forward lines, as he has shown to be one of the better freshmen in recent years.
After winning back-to-back state titles in 2010-11, the Warriors had a bit of down year last year by recent standards following a 5-11 regular season and a first round playoff exit.
But losing only two seniors from last year, WLC is primed to have a turnaround year. There is still a number of players remaining from the championship teams and even with a number of positions returning from 2012, coach Steve Martus has made some changes that he feels will benefit the team as the season goes along.
“We’ve made a lot of adjustments since last year and so far it’s worked out,” said Martus.
With seven seniors mixed with a lot of underclassmen, Martus knows it will be a year where the team chemistry will come as the year goes along.
“Even if it’s a slow start to the season, I think by playoffs we’ll be fine,” said Martus. “We’re going to be better at the end of the season.”
Martus does not expect another first round exit this year and wants the Warriors to be a team that nobody wants to play.
“I think they will be a team to be reckoned with,” said Martus. “This is going to be the year we’re we bring back the skill level.”
The midfield will have a lot of experience with seniors James Edmunds and Colton Salisbury patrolling the middle. Senior John Lemire and junior Chris Ballou will anchor the middle of the defense. The outside of the midfield and defense are the big question marks entering Friday’s opener.
“I’m trying to figure out whose going to play best at those positions,” said Martus.
Senior Mark Davidson moves from midfield to forward and will be joined by junior Jordan Litts, who does not have a lot of soccer experience, but was described by Martus as a natural athlete.
Junior Connor Melrose will enter his third season as the starting keeper after helping WLC win its second straight title as a freshman.
The Vikings lost eight starters from last year’s team that won five games and narrowly missed out on the Division III tournament.
Second year coach Dave Martinez knows it will be a slow start for a team that needs to replace positions all over the field.
“It’s a rebuilding year, especially when you lose that many players,” said Martinez.
But Mascenic still has plenty of talent and experience coming back, it will just be a matter of getting the right players in the best positions.
“Most of the returning players saw playing time last year so they can pretty much play anywhere,” said Martinez.
And Martinez also believes his bench players from a year ago will be able to slide in and help.
“I had a strong bench last year,” said Martinez. “It’s not like we have players coming in who don’t have experience.”
The goal right now is to play well and be in most games.
“I don’t think we’ll dominate any teams, but I think we’ll be competitive,” said Martinez.
Junior forward Jared Stauffeneker came on strong last year and will be counted on to pick up the scoring slack. Junior Connor Hein will join Stauffeneker on the forward line.
Kevin Joyce will help anchor the defense that will play in front of a new goalie, while Jared Nolan and Sarah Sharp return to the midfield.
After winning just two games last year, the Conant boys soccer team should fair much better in 2013.
With a strong core coming back and the addition of seven freshmen, coach Cole Griffin thinks will be the year that the Orioles finally take a big step forward.
The group of four seniors were freshmen when Griffin took over and the program is finally starting to see progress after a few down years.
“I feel pretty good about this year,” said Griffin. “We’ll be surprising some teams.”
Griffin sees the Orioles not only winning more games, but being more competitive.
“The goal is always to be better than the year before,” said Griffin. “And we’re definitely on the path to being where we used to be.”
A playoff spot — which has eluded Conant since the 2007 season — is the ultimate goal. And Griffin feels it is a real possibility, but that is something he will worry about as the season goes along.
“I feel like we should be a playoff contending team,” said Griffin. “We’re definitely a lot stronger than we were last year.”
One big question mark is in goal. Senior Tyler Desmaris has been the starter for the last two years, but is out till late September due to an illness and Griffin will now turn to a pair of freshmen to help fill in.
The Hodgson brothers, Eli, a senior, and sophomore Simeon will team together to handle the center of the midfield, while senior Aiden Russell is a lock for one of the outside midfield positions.
Junior Nate Wheeler and sophomore Josh DeGrenier return to the forward positions and Griffin expects a lot of production out of the pair after a full season of playing together.
Senior Brian Yaceshyn and sophomore CJ Bilodeau are both back on defense, while freshmen Kole Patten and JP Record will play significant minutes.
“I have a bunch of guys who know what they’re doing,” said Griffin.