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Boys’ soccer: ConVal advances to semifinals with win over Lebanon

  • ConVal’s Zach Kriebel beats Lebanon’s Patrick Mason to the ball during Sunday’s game. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal boys' soccer team hosted Lebanon in the NHIAA Division II quarterfinals on Sunday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' soccer team hosted Lebanon in the NHIAA Division II quarterfinals on Sunday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' soccer team hosted Lebanon in the NHIAA Division II quarterfinals on Sunday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' soccer team hosted Lebanon in the NHIAA Division II quarterfinals on Sunday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' soccer team hosted Lebanon in the NHIAA Division II quarterfinals on Sunday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Sunday, October 28, 2018 5:36PM

ConVal’s storybook season continued on Sunday as the Cougars beat Lebanon 1-0 to advance to the NHIAA Division II boys’ soccer semifinals. 

The game – moved to Conant’s field due to conditions at ConVal, then postponed ‘til Sunday thanks to Saturday’s hurricane-like conditions – was delayed further by a missing referee, and once it finally got underway, it was a slow start. Both teams battled in the midfield, with only a handful of scoring chances between them and no goals to show for them. 

“In the first half I think our energy wasn’t where it needed to be,” said ConVal head coach Josh Smith. “At halftime we talked about it and we said if we’re going to go out, we have to go out giving everything we have. In the second half the energy started to turn the tide.”

The Cougars came roaring out of the break, increasing the offensive pressure and putting together a slew of corner kicks. In the 61st minute, senior captain Max Richard took a corner from the left side, lofting it up short for junior Del Bonsu-Anane.

“I saw their keeper was out of the goal,” Bonsu-Anane said, “and I thought if I hit it there’s a good chance he won’t save it because he’s not in the right position.”

Bonsu-Anane got a back-flick header on the ball and sent it low across the goal mouth, watching it roll under the dive of keeper Jorgen Leuthauser and into the back of the net. The Cougars swarmed their scorer in celebration.

ConVal had already beaten Lebanon twice this year, both 1-0 wins, and with Raider captains Patrick Mason and Logan Falzarano relatively contained, the Cougars were in position for a third. Indeed, they’d hold off the Raider attack, keeping keeper Mather Kipka (three saves) out of harm’s way, and the score remained the same as ConVal closed out the game. 

Now, the Cougars (16-1) are poised for a Halloween semifinal matchup with No. 4 Pembroke (13-3-1) Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Stellos Stadium in Nashua. Pembroke beat Hollis-Brookline 2-1 in overtime earlier Sunday afternoon.

Coach Smith is now tasked with keeping his boys fired up and ready to go, avoiding a letdown like some previous Cougar teams have experienced in the postseason.

“I think it’s pretty easy,” Smith said. “We talk about it all the time – we have to stay hungry. ConVal’s only sent two teams to the championship. We’ve talked about ‘How can we be the third team?’ ConVal teams over the years have had a lot of skill. I think what separates them from that is that we’re tough, we’re gritty, we’re resilient.”

ConVal was Class I runner-up in 1986 and 1994.