Drawing a Blank: Hanover, Lebanon Play to a Scoreless Tie
Hanover's Emma Riccardi heads the ball over a Lebanon player during their match in Hanover, N.H. on October 16, 2013. The game was tied after two overtimes. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover's Evie Keating, center, tries to take the ball from Lebanon's Erin Landry, center right, as Lebanon's Josephine Brown, left, and Hanover's Claire Messersmith watch during their match in Hanover, N.H. on October 16, 2013. The game was tied after two overtimes. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — If the members of the Hanover High girls soccer team are thinking of buying coach Doug Kennedy a present to commemorate the season, he has one simple request.
No more ties. Please.
Ties such as the 0-0 draw the Marauders played with Lebanon at Merriman-Branch Field on Wednesday night have a way of reminding both teams about the plusses and minuses of their campaigns. In Hanover’s case, draw No. 5 in match No. 13 reinforced two notions: The Marauders’ inability to put the ball in the net may be frustrating, but at least they have a defense to save them.
“I’m tired of it, obviously,” Kennedy said with a wry grin. “Our issue all year is we’ve had trouble scoring. Our defense has been awesome. We’ve had a lot of great possession on the field and we get awfully, awfully close, and then it doesn’t go in.”
Wash, rinse, repeat: No team in NHIAA Division II has more ties than the Marauders (5-3-5) this year. Chalk up the latest to misfortune around the Raiders’ goal and excellence at their own end of the field.
“Anytime you tie a team like Hanover, for me it’s a win,” Lebanon coach Shannon Boisvert confessed. “We went out with a lot of intensity, which I’ve been trying to get out of them the last couple of games. And Hanover’s a great team. I’ll take a tie.”
The first four minutes of the match showed Hanover’s year as well as any sequence could.
A third-minute Julia Krass corner kick found Sophie Lubrano in the Lebanon penalty area for a deflection that clipped a Raider defender and the right post. Given another corner, Lubrano dropped Krass’ delivery back to Sarah Wagner, whose 18-yard roller caught the same post squarely and bounced out.
Further serious bids found the capable mitts of Kassidee Rogers, Lebanon’s freshman goalkeeper. Rogers’ eight-save shutout included a scrambling denial of Hanover’s Kelly Brigham in the 17th minute, a lunging effort on a point-blank bid.
“She’s done a great job for us,” Boisvert said. “I just keep telling her, ‘Be aggressive; come out after the ball; demand your area; continue to control your defense.’ That’s hard for a freshman, bossing around seniors and juniors and sophomores when you’re new to a team. I want her to feel comfortable doing that.”
Lebanon (4-7-3) has similarly found scoring a chore, with just four goals in the 10 matches prior to Wednesday and 12 on the season as a whole.
A tendency to play down the middle of the field rather than use the pitch’s full width doesn’t help.
A lack of aggression can sometimes also work against the Raiders, but that was no problem on Wednesday. Deep defenders Sierra Rogers, Erika Moffitt and Micaela Schones combined to limit Hanover’s quality bids, most of which came from distance.
“Sometimes it’s just hitting the shot where it is, and sometimes it’s that pass that’s 6 inches off from where it should be,” Kennedy said. “That’s what it’s been, in most instances.”
The 20 minutes of sudden-death overtime provided tense moments for both teams. Kassidee Rogers snuffed one ball at the feet of Hanover midfielder Susanna Penfield after two minutes and made a scrambling save on the Marauders’ Rachel Boghosian seconds later, a denial from 18 yards that left Boghosian grabbing her head in frustration.
Held without a shot in the second half and first overtime, Lebanon threatened in the second extra period. A 20-yard bid from Jillian Dion found the gloves of Hanover netminder Ashley Levesque (four saves) in the 92nd minute; Erin Landry later fired high after Dion won a 50-50 ball from Marauder back Emily Acker, who excelled all night in tandem with fellow center back Claire Messersmith.
“While we’re so frustrated with the goals, on the other side of it, the side that gets less talk, is our incredible defense,” said Kennedy, whose team has surrendered just nine goals all year. “Emily is just a calm operator who knows what’s going on, and Claire has just incredible speed and incredible desire. That combination just works really well.”
With a handful of games left, wins are becoming crucial for both teams.
Pending other results, Lebanon held the 16th and final D-II state tournament spot with two games to go. Hanover is 10th, two spots out of a first-round home contest.
“The best thing I could say is that the girls maybe have reached the breaking point on ties,” Kennedy said. “They just don’t want it to happen again.
“It was a great effort. We had a lot of opportunities. It just didn’t go in for us.”
Greg Fennell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3226.