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Bench Boost: Super Sub’s Goal Puts Marauders in D-I Final

  • Hanover sophomore midfielder Jamie Dinulos (right) hugs sophomore midfielder Jonah Levine after scoring the only goal of the game as Hanover beats Concord High School 1Ð0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Hanover sophomore midfielder Jamie Dinulos (right) hugs sophomore midfielder Jonah Levine after scoring the only goal of the game as Hanover beats Concord High School 1Ð0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hanover senior defender Sam Carey chases down the ball against Concord's Augustine Fornor as Hanover beats Concord High School 1Ð0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Hanover senior defender Sam Carey chases down the ball against Concord's Augustine Fornor as Hanover beats Concord High School 1Ð0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hanover sophomore midfielder Jamie Dinulos (right) hugs sophomore midfielder Jonah Levine after scoring the only goal of the game as Hanover beats Concord High School 1Ð0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Hanover senior defender Sam Carey chases down the ball against Concord's Augustine Fornor as Hanover beats Concord High School 1Ð0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

Nashua, n.h. — Even as the director of religious education at the Church of Christ at Dartmouth, even as a master’s candidate in divinity, Hanover High boys soccer coach Rob Grabill doesn’t come across as a guy whose game substitutions bear the occasional influence of … well, y’know, Him.

Sometimes, though, you have to wonder.

Early in the 33rd minute of Thursday night’s NHIAA Division I semifinal at Stellos Stadium, Hanover midfielder Asa Berolzheimer took a hard hack to the ankles from Concord defender Daniel Nkhalamba. Referee Colin Madden stopped play and issued a yellow card to Nkhalamba; Grabill used the moment to insert sophomore midfielder Jamie Dinulos into the match to give Berolzheimer a rest.

Not 45 seconds later, Dinulos ran onto a Xavier Tchana crossing pass and zipped a shot into the Crimson Tide net for the only goal of a 1-0 Hanover win.

“Who made that sub?” Grabill asked rhetorically on the sideline. “This guy.”

Maybe Him, too.

In truth, Dinulos’ timely contribution came because the top-ranked Marauders (18-0-1) possess the versatility to now own the favorite’s role for Sunday’s D-I final at Exeter High School. Multiple players bearing multiple skills create multiple opportunities. And in soccer, one is sometimes all you need.

“That was an easy substitution to make,” Grabill said afterward. “Jamie has been playing big-time soccer for us all year long. He had a broken arm during the season, came back from that. He’s ready to play when we need him the most. … When the moment came for him, he was ready for it.”

Spoiler alert: Dinulos was already warming up for Berolzheimer when Nkhalamba made his rude introduction. Still, soccer substitutions don’t usually pay such immediate dividends.

Chasing and settling a long, high ball from the right midfield, Tchana made a quick turn with possession to shake the attention of Crimson Tide right back Kyler Thayer in the left side of the Concord penalty area. Tchana’s pass found a seam through the back, and Dinulos one-timed a turfcutter past Concord goalkeeper Andrew Grondin (three saves) at 32:52.

“I saw Xavi making his run to the corner, and I knew he gives great balls across the box,” Dinulos said. “I was just at the right time and the right place.”

Some Hanover substitutions come with multiple layers. For instance, when Berolzheimer missed the Marauders’ 0-0 draw at Concord three weeks ago with a groin pull, Dinulos became relief for striker Daniel Hazlett, who would then sag back to center midfielder to give Berolzheimer’s injury replacement, Jules Evens, a respite.

However, against the fourth-ranked Tide (14-3-2), Hanover played expected roles to perfection. Birthday boy goalkeeper Alex Bynum — he turned 17 on Thursday — dominated his penalty area on a night in which he had to make only one save. Central defenders Jack Lightbody and Sam Carey marshaled an effort that limited Concord to just five shot attempts, few of them serious enough to sweat.

“I think our talent base has definitely increased in the past few years,” Concord coach Scott Dunlop said. “We were really competitive in the first match. I felt, in the first half, we weren’t playing the way we normally play. That definitely changed as the second half went on.”

Hanover took to challenging Concord’s capable defense right away. Hazlett forced a falling save from Grondin in the seventh minute, and Tchana missed an open net in the ninth after Tide center back Augustine Fornor miscommunicated with Grondin on a loose ball, nodding it away from his keeper and into Tchana’s path.

From there, however, Concord solidified its back through Fornor and Emmanuel Smith, Dunlop’s freshman man-child left back. The two, with right back Thayer, were quick enough that Hazlett, Tchana and striker Rocco Linehan were never able to take advantage of their speed to chase long balls skidding off Stellos’ slick surface.

“They’re experienced; they’re smart; they’ve been in so many final fours,” Grabill said of the Tide, which gave Hanover its only blemish on an otherwise perfect mark to date. “The final four is where Concord belongs.”

The Marauders weren’t lucky enough to extend their lead shortly after halftime.

Tomas LaPorta delivered a textbook corner kick in the 42nd minute that found Carey’s noggin for a snap header aimed toward the low right corner of the Concord cage. Tide middie Isaac Dugas booted the shot off the line right to Hanover’s Evan Greenwald, who side-footed the gift over the crossbar.

Increased aggression gave Concord better possession in the second half, but the Tide couldn’t turn the moments into dangerous chances.

Bynum easily negotiated his way through back-to-back-to-back Concord corners in the 68th minute, guiding two away and snagging the third in traffic. The Crimson Tide’s three after-interval shots — from Nkhalamba, Gaston Arocena and Smith — all came from distance and all missed Bynum’s goal by significant margins.

Turns out that Dinulos’ one well-placed touch — and well-timed insertion into the match — was all the Marauders needed.

“Jamie is flexible enough to play a lot of different positions,” Grabill said. “He can play anywhere up top, and he can play anywhere in midfield. … Xavi completely trusted him and found him. He got on the end of it very, very well.”

Not that anyone — including Him — saw it coming, of course.

Free Kicks: Bynum’s only save came on a 22nd-minute long-distance roller off the foot of Concord’s Dominique Girard. … Grabill employed just two players off the bench all night, Dinulos in the 33rd and 71st minutes and left back Andrew Kazal for starter Luke Strohbehn at halftime, a season-long maneuver. … No. 2 Alvirne ended No. 3 Manchester Central’s two-year title run in the early semifinal, and did so in unlikely fashion. Down a goal after blowing a 1-0 lead, the Broncos’ Raul Stedile nodded home a corner in the waning seconds of regulation and Kyle Salucco notched the winner 2:14 into overtime for a 3-2 victory. … Hanover blitzed the Broncos, 4-0, at Merriman-Branch Field back on Sept. 19, one of the Marauders’ 15 shutouts on the year. The rematch will be staged at Exeter’s Bill Ball Stadium on Sunday at 6:45 p.m.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.