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2021 HS boys soccer preview: Programs readying for long haul

  • White River Valley boys soccer players, from left, junior Luke Durkee, senior Dominic Craven, freshman Donavan Craven and junior Robby McShinsky practice on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, in South Royalton, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to valley news photographs — Jennifer Hauck

  • Spending the first part of practice on core and strength work, White River Valley soccer players, from left, junior Robby McShinsky, freshman Bryce Rikert, senior Dominic Craven and junior Zachary Armstrong push through the work out during practice on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, in South Royalton, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

  • White River Valley boys soccer coach Alex Montano works with his players during a hot and humid practice on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021 in South Royalton, Vt. Freshman Donavan Craven is next to him. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/2/2021 12:01:36 AM
Modified: 9/2/2021 12:01:43 AM

After the 2020 season was shortened and affected by COVID-19, Upper Valley boys soccer teams are hoping for a more standard 2021 schedule. Fans will return to the grandstands, masks will not be mandatory in many places and schools will play normal schedules once again.

Hanover, White River Valley and Sharon were the only Upper Valley teams to reach semifinals last season. Hanover appears to be reloaded and a strong contender to return to the NHIAA Division I final four or even lift a trophy at season’s end. The Wildcats lost a lot of players to graduation last year and will lean on some underclassmen, and the Phoenix likely face a similar scenario, albeit with a strong attacking midfield as a foundation. Rivendell and Lebanon return solid cores and are also capable of deep playoff runs.

Mid Vermont Christian and Windsor lacked sufficient numbers for boys soccer and sent their kids to play for Hartford under the VPA’s member-to-member program. Newport could potentially join that group — the Tigers need at least three more players this week or they, too, won’t field a team in 2021.


Coach: Rob Grabill (16 years).

Last year: 9-1-1, lost in semifinals.

League: NHIAA Division I.

Returnees: Seniors — Connor Hamlin (D), Murphy Hunt (M), Luke Ives (D), Jacob Kubik-Pauw (M/F), Oscar Miller (F), Palmer Okai (D/capt.), Eric Ringer (M/F/capt.), Jack Ross (D), Zane Schiffman (M/F). Juniors — Becket McCurdy (M), Ty Nolon (G). Sophomores — Will Guerin (M/F), Carter Guerin (M/F), Ryder Hayes (M).

Newcomers: Senior — Pierce Seigne (M/F). Juniors — Jack Gardner (F), Jack McGrath (D), Owen Smith (D). Sophomores — Jackson McBride (G), Alex McGrath (D), Sean Smith (M), Zach Tracy (M), Ben Woods (D). Freshmen — Charlie Forbush (M/D), Andrew McGuire (M/D).

Analysis: Grabill thinks his team is capable of making another deep playoff run this year. With eight senior starters, Hanover will lean on experience on the team sheet.

“We have growing edges, not weaknesses,” Grabill said. “We have eight sophomores and two freshmen, and it will take a while to integrate everyone and evolve a style of play. We have tremendous potential, and it will take a good part of the season before we are playing the way we want to play. Our goal is to get better every day, continue to honor the game and be playing our best soccer in October and November when it counts the most.”


Coach: Kevin Guilbault (10).

Last year: 3-6-1, lost in first round.

Leagues: VPA Division II, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Senior — Kalem Boyton (M). Juniors — Blaine Gour (G), Joe Beggs (M/D), Nolan McMahon (M/F), Sawyer Albrecht (M/D), Brody Dillon (F).

Newcomers: Seniors — Jacob Singelais (G; Windsor High), Tre Bortlein (M; Windsor), Adam Dufour (M/F; Windsor), Bryce Moody (M/D; Windsor), Tenrick Renninger (D; MVCS). Juniors — Mario Diaz de Rada (D), John Cassell (M/D), Everett Winslow (D), Parley Burkland (D; Windsor). Sophomores — Bryce Sobeleski (M/F), Lochlan Park (M/D), Gabe Guillette (M/F), Matt Hayes (D), Owen Parker (D), Peyton Bessette (M/D). Freshmen — Tighe Hrabcheck (M/F), Cavan O’Brien (M), Nolan Morlock (M/F), Logan Caffrey (M/D), Theo Vassilou (M), Cavan Benjamin (M), Sam Peckinpaugh (M/F; Windsor).

Analysis: Hartford has just two starters back from last year’s squad, and the Hurricanes’ large group of newcomers combined with member-to-member additions from Mid Vermont Christian School and Windsor High give this group a very different look.

“Lots of new faces, and young,” Guilbault said. “We will need to develop team chemistry and cohesiveness. I think we could be dangerous by the end of the season.”


Coach: Rob Johnstone (28).

Last year: 7-3-1, lost in quarterfinals.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Griffin Auch (D), John Bieszczad (D), Seth Carl (D), Robert de la Cruz (F), Colbie Delisle (G), Griffin Gamache (D), Ben Katz (M), Daniel Mladek (M), Ryan Oliveira (M). Juniors — Francis Calandrella (D), Duncan Green (D), Angus Hall (M), Birhanu Harriman (F), Will McGee (M), Tommy Wolfe (F).

Newcomers: Senior — Krists Putans (F; exchange student from Latvia). Juniors — Andrew Dannehy (M), Finn Ericson (M). Sophomores — Nicholas Brill (F), Bennett Hewett (D).

Analysis: Lebanon returns six starters from its solid 2020 campaign. In addition to the five newcomers listed, five returnees will be new to full-time varsity status.

“Early indications are that this will be a smart, hard-working team,” Johnstone said. “The competitive spirit in practice has been strong. We will play 15 different Division II opponents this season (and Stevens twice), so we should fairly find out how we stack up against the rest.”


Coach: Keli Green (4).

Last year: 6-5-0, lost in first round.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Ben Seiler (M/F/capt.), Ian Moulton (D/capt.), Cole Moulton (M/capt.), Allan Hammond (D/G), Nikolas Ladue (F). Juniors — Garrett Giovagnoli (D), Zach Thompson (M), Grant Suttie (F). Sophomores — Aidan Smith (D/M).

Newcomers: Junior — Rhys Roberts (D). Sophomores — Isaiah Hogan (G), Cameron Jesperson-Pecor (D), James Thomas (M/F), Logan Isham (M/F). Freshmen — Tanner Moulton (M), Reuben Densmore (M/F).

Analysis: Mascoma graduated nine seniors last year, so the Royals have some roster turnover. But they do return the program’s all-time leading scorer, Ben Seiler (20 goals in 11 games last season), one of five starters back for 2021.

“This is a skilled group of players, but we’re going to struggle with depth. I fully expect that we’ll show marked improvement in our game from the beginning of the season to the end of the season,” Green said. “So many of the players are new to varsity that we’ll be figuring out our team-ness and game strategy well into the season. These boys have determination, heart and good attitudes, so I’m confident that we’ll be a strong team.”


Coach: Andrew Fisher (3).

Last year: 1-8, lost in first round.

Leagues: VPA Division II, NVAC Mountain Division.

Returnees: Seniors — Andrew Emerson (M/D), Christopher Roy (D), Quincy Beaudin (D/F). Sophomores — Matthew Corti (M), Jeremiah Fifield (D), Dakota Goodridge (G), Reece Ilsley (M/F).

Newcomers: Seniors — Keghan Keyes (D), Connor Mazzarella (M), Izzac Clogston (M), Nate Bachus (M). Freshmen — Liam O’Connell (M), Oden Schlager (D/G), Ethan Emerson (D), Otis Brochu (D), Tanner Longmoore (M/D), Aiden Hervey (M), Andrew Barrett (M/F), Shane Morse (M/F), Cooper Brunet (M/D), Jack Drugach (M/D).

Analysis: The Olympians bring back just three starters, and 14 of the team’s 20 players are underclassmen. But they get Roy and Beaudin back after they sat out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.

“Our depth is going to be a huge weapon for us this year. We have some speed and some size,” Fisher said. “Our major weakness will be that only a few of these players have field time together. It will take us a while to find our rhythm and discover our identity on offense, but we will have relentless defenders and a goalkeeper with great size and excellent instincts. Most importantly, this group is flexible and hungry to improve. I expect to watch steady growth throughout the season.”


Coach: Kevin Brooker (4).

Last year: 5-2-2, lost in quarterfinals in OT.

Leagues: VPA Division IV, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Chris Pierce (F), Garrett Stever (M), Keo Hallmartell (D), Kyle Carter (M), Lyle Rinehimer (D), Wyatt Underhill (F). Juniors — Derek Vogelien (F), Harry Molesworth (D), Josiah Welch (M).

Newcomers: Seniors — Jamison Gilbert (D). Juniors — Ben Hooke (D). Sophomores — Carter Bacon (G), Gabe Wright Swain (M). Freshmen — David Noyes (F), Rowen Lockerling (M), Will Knowles (M).

Analysis: Eight starters are back from last year’s team that earned the two seed in Division IV. Brooker said that Knowles and Lockerling could play key roles this year.

“COVID has bonded this team,” Brooker said. “They work to help each other satisfy individual goals while working collectively to win games. They play with a sense of freedom and joy which is super fun to watch. They take the initiative to solve in-game situations and are very self-reliant and confident.”


Coach: Blake Fabrikant (3).

Last year: 8-4-1, lost in semifinals.

Leagues: VPA Division IV, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Jaxon Nichols (D), Ever Tofel (M), Riley Eastman (M), Daniel Henderson (M). Juniors — Sam Simone (F), Parker Bogardus (G/F), Caleb Benjamin (D), Jack Lloyd (F)

Newcomers: Senior — Jack Brandon (M). Junior — Jack Doris (G), Eli Ferro (M). Freshmen — Hayden Hewitt (D), Luke Miller (D), Andrew North (M), Camden Stride (M), Ellis Bogardus (F).

Analysis: Fabrikant expects his attacking midfield to be one of Sharon’s biggest strengths this season, and he returns two experienced center backs in Nichols and Benjamin. Goalkeeper could be a question mark for the Phoenix.

“We have talent in the middle of the pitch, but it drops off quickly as some of our starters and all of our bench are not acclimated to the speed and skill of the varsity level,” Fabrikant said. “I expect us to be competitive once we can get the wrinkles ironed out in the beginning stages of the season.”


Coach: Jason Stone (10).

Last year: 5-8-0, lost in first round.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Cooper Moote (G), Dylan Chambers (M), Austin Jones (D). Juniors — Kaden Laclair (D), Tristan Lane (M), Sam Dalke (M). Sophomores — Jason Demars (D).

Newcomers: Seniors — Trevor Boutilier (D), Alex Dyer (F). Junior — Scott Campbell (M). Sophomore — Luke Belisle (M). Freshman — Connor Miller (F).

Analysis: The Cardinals bring back seven starters from last year’s squad. Stone said Miller and Laclair will bring some added speed, and Alex Dyer, from Jamaica, could also be a key newcomer.

“I feel like I can put one of the better starting 11 on the field that I have had while coaching at Stevens, but we really don’t know what to expect because we play the toughest schedule we have ever had,” Stone said. “We will just hope to get better each game and not get too distracted from our plan with any losses to good teams.”


Coach: Ray Thorburn (4).

Last year: 1-5-3, lost in first round.

Leagues: VPA Division III, NVAC Capital Division.

Returnees: Seniors — Mack Briglin (M), Ethan Marshia (M), Fritz Junker (D), Alex Kim (D). Juniors — Nolan Pepe (M), Aidan Keane (M), Jacob Gilman (M/D).

Newcomers: Seniors — Gus Byrne (M/G), Elliot Jones (F). Juniors — Finn Linehan (M), T.J. Berecz (M/F). Sophomores — Mitchell Parkman (D), Asa Kelleher (M), Justin Robinson (G). Freshmen — Dempsey McGovern (M/F), Boone Fahey (M/D).

Analysis: The Panthers will hope that a roster heavy on upperclassmen will be the key to changing their fortunes in 2021.

“We have 11 players with varsity experience to help us get through a tough schedule,” Thorburn said. “We are going to have a revolving door of young role players to give us some depth on the bench.”


Coach: Alex Montano (8).

Last year: 3-6-1, lost in semifinals.

Leagues: VPA Division IV, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Dominic Craven (F), Mason Gauthier (M), Elijah Kinsley (M). Juniors — Zachary Armstrong (M), Colin LaFromboise (F), Robert McShinsky (F), Samuel Slack (D). Sophomores — Cory Darling-Salls (D), Finnigan Bailey (M).

Newcomers: Juniors — Luke Durkee (D). Freshmen — Donavan Craven (G), Hayden Mabey (M), Bryce Rikert (F), Brayden Russ (M), William Snelling (M), Noah Zitterkopf (D).

Analysis: White River Valley sports a young team in 2021. With just three seniors, and potentially five freshmen starting, the Wildcats will need their youth to deliver. They’ll also need to account for vacancies in several key areas, including goalkeeper.

“We’ll have seven freshmen on the team, and all are expected to contribute,” Montano said. “It may take a few games for everyone to settle into positions, but this is an athletic team with a lot of potential.”


Coach: Rob Stainton (2).

Last year: 6-3-1, loss in quarterfinals.

Leagues: VPA Division II, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Liam Brennan (D), Jackson Martsolf-Tan (M/F), Wyatt Napier (D/capt.). Juniors — Alec Smail (M/D), Rowan Smail (M). Sophomores — Jaedon Beardsley (D), Ezra Lockhart (M), Bode Wood (M/F).

Newcomers: Seniors — Cooper Dorsogna (M/D), Nathan Gnodde (M/D). Juniors — Michael LaCroix (G), Declan McCullough (M/D). Sophomores — Zach Martsolf-Tan (M/D).

Analysis: Stainton enters his second season at Woodstock with six starters back from his 2020 team that had some success. But he knows the Wasps still have work to do.

“The team lost six starters from last year’s team to graduation,” Stainton said. “The team is working hard to fill those gaps.”

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