In the End, Raiders Sing a Winning Tune
Lebanon High midfielder Emily Perryman follows through on a pass Tuesday while Hanover's Charley Voelkel leaps out of the way. The host Raiders won, 1-0, in an NHIAA Division II game. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover High goaltender B Sachsse moves out to challenge Lebanon's Kendra MacDonald during the teams' NHIAA Division II game Tuesday. The host Raiders won, 1-0. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »
Lebanon — The Hanover High field hockey team arrived at Lebanon High on Tuesday afternoon singing and hollering through the open windows of its bus. The Marauders left in a more subdued mood, however, after suffering a 1-0 defeat by their neighboring rivals.
The Raiders, defending NHIAA Division II champions, graduated nine seniors off last year’s squad and five of the Upper Valley’s top 12 scorers, but won for the sixteenth time in their last 18 games thanks to a Kyra Taylor goal with 18 minutes remaining.
“It was much closer than I wanted, but I never want a 1-0 game,” said Lebanon coach Deb Beach, who’s beginning her 34th season. “We’re having a little difficulty finishing right now, but we have a lot of new people in different positions and that will come as we learn to play with each other. They have to learn to work together the way we did last year.”
The Raiders controlled long stretches of play and scored on their fourth penalty corner in as many minutes. Taylor, a junior varsity player last year, tallied from in front of the net after an insertion to goaltender B Sachsse’s left.
“I just had to flip it in,” said the junior, a key member of Lebanon’s state-finalist girls lacrosse team last spring. “At that point, it felt like the intensity was kicking up and the game was getting more exciting.”
Hanover coach Jean Essex, whose team has lost eight consecutive contests to the Raiders, called time out after the goal, and her team perked up during the late going after not recording a shot on goal in the first half. Hanover seemed to struggle on the damp, grass field, a factor to be expected from a team that calls an artificial surface home.
“My girls got a little bit down after the goal was scored but we rallied and just couldn’t finish it off,” said Essex, whose program won the 2009 state title, but was 4-8-2 last fall while scoring only 17 goals and suffering five shutouts. “We’re clawing our way out of a very tough season last year, which was a learning experience.”
Last year was a tour de force for Lebanon, which finished 15-1-1. Beach has been handed a massive rebuilding project in the wake of that campaign, but talent cultivated on the junior varsity and junior high teams should keep the Raiders competitive in 2013.
“This isn’t even close to being the same team as last year, because we lost so many people,” Beach said. “But they’re working their buns off to create who they are and they’re not as laid back as I thought they would be. I saw some real aggression today from people I didn’t know had it in them.”
The passionate and physical play often flowed from midfielder Emily Perryman, another lacrosse standout who’s giggly and gregarious off the field, but who roars up and down it with enough power to make defenders think twice about stepping into her path.
“She’s a force, no question,” Beach said of the junior. “She’s got amazing speed and now she has the stickwork to go with it.
“She can dodge around people and she’s got a killer (shot) when she gets it off. When you see her coming at you, you have to decide whether you really want to get in front of a Mack truck.”
For the Marauders’ part, the drive is to improve and make last year’s playoff absence an exception and not the rule.
“I’m very proud of what our team did today,” Essex said. “It’s not where we are at the beginning, it’s where we are at the end.”
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.