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2019 Upper Valley high school girls soccer preview

  • Windsor High goalkeeper Adi Prior reaches to catch a ball while participating in an Aug. 16, 2019, drill with her fellow Yellowjackets backstops in Windsor, Vt. Prior, who trains during the summer with Lebanon High boys coach and Windsor High teacher Rob Johnstone, is considered one of the area’s better netminders. (Valley News — Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon High freshman Delaney Deshane splits a pair of Burr & Burton defenders during her team’s Aug. 24, 2019, girls soccer scrimmage at a preseason jamboree in Orford. (Valley News — Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Newport High goalkeeper Shelby Adams faces a shot against visiting Epping during the teams’ NHIAA Division IV clash last season. Adams is back in the Tigers' net this season, where the program will try to improve on its 3-12-1 record from last fall. Newport is 9-38-1 during the past three seasons. (Valley News file — Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford High’s Eleanor Hinckley (15) finds a seam in the Fair Haven defense during the Vermont Division II teams’ Sept. 23, 2018, meeting at the Maxfield Sports Complex in White River Junction. The Hurricanes, 7-7 last season, bring back 15 players with varsity experience, including Hinckley, a junior forward. (Valley News file — Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford High School girls soccer coach Jeff Acker in an undated photograph (Valley News file — Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor High girls soccer coach Jeff Bachey

  • Wilson

  • Gradijan

  • Aiken

  • O’Hearn

  • Vaillancourt

  • Merrill



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Upper Valley’s girls soccer season kicks off with Hanover and Thetford looking for championship repeats.

The Marauders have lost fewer than four games, on average, over the last three seasons and are gunning for their fourth NHIAA Division II crown since 2014. Thetford, the two-time defending Vermont Division III champion, appears loaded once again.

Also hoping to hold onto its strong performance from last fall is Stevens, which went 15-4 and reached the NHIAA D-III semifinals. The loss of seven starters and Audrey Puksta, who scored 34 goals in 2018, makes the Cardinals’ climb a tough one.

Lebanon and Hartford seem ready to move beyond .500 ball, the former backed by regional standout goalkeeper Sally Rainey. White River Valley is another team that played to that level last season, but the Wildcats must adjust to a new coach.

Woodstock won nine games a year ago and brings back its entire roster. Windsor is young but gained stability under third-year coach Jeff Bachey and brings back seven starters. It’s hard to see Oxbow repeating its 13-victory form of last season with a new coach and the loss of the Barton sisters, one to graduation and the other to prep school.

Newport and Sharon hope to start over fresh with new coaches and the goal of earning more than a handful of victories.

HANOVER

Coach: Doug Kennedy (12).

Last Year: 13-3-4, state champions.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Abigail Wilson (D), Arabella Meacham-Snyder (D), Bella Bardales (G), Eva Schiffman (D), Lauren Ilsley (G), Lilli Hall (D), Pepper Joseph (M), Riley Craft (F). Juniors — Casey McGuire (M), Charlotte Johnson (F), Ellie Stannard (D), Katie Stannard (D), Kira Smith (F), Sage McGinley-Smith (F), Sonja Lippman (M). Sophomores — Caroline Adams (M), Eleanor van Aalst (M), Ingrid Pekala (D).

Newcomers: Senior — Faith Marshall (D). Junior — Rebekah Rudd (M/F). Sophomore — Elsa Bollinger (M/D).

Analysis: Hanover is 40-11-7 over the past three seasons and boasts experience and work ethic. Overcoming graduation losses and improving its on-field communication are questions marks, coach Doug Kennedy said.

“We’re working from the ground up to find ourselves on the pitch and to discover what works best for this particular group of girls,” the coach added. The Marauders have won nine state titles, seven since 2000 and three during the past five seasons.

HARTFORD

Coach: Jeff Acker (14).

Last Year: 7-7, lost in first round of playoffs.

Leagues: VPA Division II, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Megan Libuda (D), Carolyn North (F), Caroline Cassell (D), Abigail Koff (M), Makenna Druge (M). Juniors — Kaylyn Bills (G), Reilly Slusser (F), Gretchen Josselyn (F), Cassidy Beisler (D), Brooke Shambo (F), Eleanor Hinckley (F). Sophomores — Katie Blood (M), Nora Knudsen (M), Grace Pfenning (F), Erin Thompson (G).

Newcomers: Junior — Nevaeh Murphy (D). Sophomores — Beth Dobrich (D), Madisyn D’Amico (D), Jenna Jasmin (F), Madison Withington (M).

Analysis: Hartford brings back 15 varsity players, with Carolyn North and Abigail Koff both returning first-team all-state selections, the second consecutive year North has received that recognition.

“We plan to play a more attacking style than in years past,” said Jeff Acker, who sports a 93-99-12 career mark over 13 seasons with Hartford. “We want to take advantage of some incredibly fast and athletic kids. Speed isn’t a soccer skill, per se, but it sure helps. The girls have responded with great energy and enthusiasm for the new style.”

LEBANON

Coach: Breck Taber (4).

Last Year: 8-6-4, lost in the quarterfinals.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Olivia Lammert (F), Madeline Wolfe (M), Megan Gradijan (M), Alison Carl (M), Claudia Simione (M), Caroline Laramie (F). Juniors — Sally Rainey (G), Rachel Harrington (M), Kiera Hines (D), Klaleh Punni (F). Sophomore — Ella Longacre (D).

Newcomers: Senior — Sophia Kiernan (D). Junior — Elena Izquierdo Sacristan (M). Sophomores — Kayla Taber (D), Catherine Cole (M), Alyssa Graber (F), Libby Tafe (D). Freshmen — Mary Rainey (D), Delaney DeShane (M).

Analysis: Lebanon is 19-26-6 under Breck Taber and outscored its foes, 25-16, last fall, when it rode a six-game unbeaten streak into the quarterfinals. The Raiders must overcome the loss of nine graduates, but goalkeeper Sally Rainey, the daughter of Dartmouth College women’s soccer coach Ron Rainey, is the area’s best backstop and an NCAA Division I college prospect. Megan Gradijan is Lebanon’s leading returning scorer with five goals.

NEWPORT

Coach: Gary McCall (1).

Last Year: 3-12-1, missed state tournament.

League: NHIAA Division IV.

Returnees: Senior — Peggy Greenhalgh (D). Juniors — Paige Greenhalgh (M), Bella Coffin (F), Nadia Perry (D), Shelby Adams (G/D). Sophomores — Annalee Hall (F/M), Kendra Hurd (F), Zeta Morris (M/G), Piper Howe (D), Alicia Urista (F).

Newcomers: Junior — Kayleigh Pennington (M). Freshmen — Aura Parker (M), Makayla Perry (D), Riley Skarin (M).

Analysis: Gary McCall is the Tigers’ third coach in as many seasons; the program is 9-38-1 during its last three campaigns. Newport was outscored, 62-19, last fall and shut out seven times, but won two of its last three games and lost the third game during that stretch by a goal.

OXBOW

Coach: Dan Thomas (1).

Last Year: 13-2-1, lost in the semifinals.

Leagues: VPA Division III, Mountain League.

Returnees: Seniors — Melanie Neil (A), Makayla Simmons (A). Juniors — Emma DeGoosh (D), Ellyn Hart (M/A), Rachel Spear (M), Leia White (M/A). Sophomores — Maddie Fredella (M/D), Chloe McIntire (A/M), Emma Parker (D).

Newcomers: Juniors — Arianna Bolles (D), Aspen Longmoore (D/M). Freshmen — Rose Bohan (D), Laila Ellsworth (M/D), Brianna Gray (M), Grace Nostrant (M), Makenna Simmons (G), Mckenna Smith (M/A), Meredith Young (M).

Analysis: The Olympians were a combined 15-15 during the 2017-18 seasons before last fall’s uptick under since-departed coach Charlie Barton. The O’s also lost their two top scorers, Avery Barton (prep school) and Zoe Barton (gradution). Dan Thomas, a math teacher and the program’s third coach in the last five years, is a former Hartford High player and the former Hurricanes boys junior varsity coach.

RIVENDELL

Coach: Tim Goodwin (8).

Last Year: 12-4, lost in quarterfinals.

Leagues: VPA Division IV, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Mikayla Stever (F), Sienna Carter (M), Moria Haehnel (D), Elizabeth Noyes (M), Rachel O’Hearn (D), Katelyn Woodbeck (D) Kendyl Boisvert (D). Juniors — Cora Day (D), Adele Tilden (M), Samantha Beaupré (D), Lauren Hair (M), Emily Smith (M). Sophomores — Iris Fukushima (D), Alex McFate (D), Kylie Taylor (M), Shyanne Cleek (F).

Newcomers: Senior — Eadie Molesworth (F). Freshmen — Ryleigh Butler (M), Sierra Flint (M), Sophia O’Leary (F).

Analysis: “This will be an exciting year for us, with many new opponents, a new league and a new division,” said Tim Goodwin, whose team is 33-13-1 the past three seasons. The preseason “showed what a tight group we are and how hard we want to work for each other, the community at Rivendell Academy and as ambassadors for the sport.”

SHARON

Co-coaches: Andy Ruddell and Rachel Milito (1).

Last Year: 2-10-4, lost in quarterfinals.

Leagues: Vermont Division IV, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Rory Livingston (G), Sophia DiGuiseppe (F), Nicole Harrington (M). Juniors — Isabella Amodeo (M), Tia Kendall (F), Ella Tallman (D), Abigail Gross (D), Isabelle Adler (M), Addison Hadlock (M), Paige Shirley (D), Lydia Eastman (D). Sophomores — Brandy Lewis (F), Alix Livingston (M), Mary Gage-Donahue (M), Hattie Byrne (D), Cedar Souligny (M).

Newcomers: Freshmen — Kailey Ekegren (D), Maeve Miller (M), Phoebe Quackenbos (M), Savanna Bragg (D), Lily Welch (M), Freya Abbey (D), Zoe Bando (M).

Analysis: The Phoenix have experienced a revolving door for coaches, as each of their last four seasons have begun with new bench bosses. TSA is 6-16-9 the last two years after going 15-2-0 and losing in the 2017 state finals.

STEVENS

Coach: Tom Belaire (8).

Last Year: 15-4, lost in finals.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Alexis Aiken (D), Tanner Brown (M), Fionah Carbee (G), Ellee Grenier (M), Sydney Miller (F). Sophomores — Jenna Bonneau (D), Molly Derosier (M), Hannah Miller (M), Brynn Murphy (D), Riley Murphy (F), Zahna Rice (D).

Newcomers: Junior — Angelina LeClair (F). Freshmen — Aiden Antonivich (M), Tori Drake (F), Stella Lavertue (F).

Analysis: The Cardinals lost Audrey Puksta and her school-record 34 goals to graduation but bring back Sydney Miller, who fired in 18 and added six assists. Elle Grenier had 10 assists. Seven starters departed overall from a team that posted 11 shutouts and won five of its last six games. The Cardinals are 35-19 the past three seasons.

THETFORD

Coach: Dave Williams (4).

Last Year: 15-1-1, won second consecutive state title.

Leagues: VPA Division III, Capital League.

Returnees: Seniors — Casey MacVeagh (A), Lily MacVeagh (M), Grace Davis (D), Sophie Williams (M), Arwen Clayton (D), Ellen Veracka (M), Alexis Gaetz (D), Emma Thorburn (D), Jade Jamieson (M). Juniors — Emma Berard (G), Emi Vaughan (M), Namya Benjamin (A), Gevie Horster (M), Kelsey Smith (M), Becca Wells (D), Emma Colby (D), Chloe Benjamin. Sophomores — Maddie Powers (M), Kiran Black (A).

Newcomers: Seniors — Brittney Clifford (D), Bethany Maxfield (D). Junior — Chloe Benjamin (M). Freshman — Kathy Darrah (F).

Analysis: Thetford’s only loss last fall was to Montpelier, and its tie came against Peoples Academy, which it defeated in the state semifinals. The Panthers outscored their opponents by a combined 56-16 and posted six shutouts. Williams returns after missing last season while in Africa, and Lily MacVeagh is expected back from injury in the coming weeks. Her sister, Casey MacVeagh, has scored a combined 34 goals the last two seasons.

TA is the two-time defending state champions after going 22 years between crowns and also reached the title game in 2017. The Panthers are 43-6-2 the past three years.

WHITE RIVER VALLEY

Coach: Kim Prestridge (1).

Last Year: 6-6-1, lost in first round.

Leagues: VPA Division III, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Sylvie Coltey (M), Emily Hemond (M), Grace LaFromboise (D/M), Kaylyn Scoskie (D). Juniors — Stella Jones (D), Maddie McShinsky (F), Blake Southworth (M), Toni Turner (D/M), Fiona Vaillancourt (G/M), Hannah White (M), Lilly Hudson (D). Sophomores — Emily Bean (D), Sarah Howe (M), Sophie Howe (F), Julia Morse (G/F), Meredith Schumann (F).

Newcomers: Sophomore — Alexis Wertheim (F). Freshmen — Claire Allen (M), Jillian Barry (F), Shannon Hadlock (G/D), Brooke Jones (F), Ella Perreault (D), Ellie Prestridge (G/F).

Analysis: Kim Prestridge is the second coach in as many years for the Wildcats, who lost leading scorer Emma Gillette and her seven goals to graduation. The Howe sisters combined for 12 points, and Grace LaFromboise had five goals last fall. White River Valley has four goalkeepers on the roster, led by starter Fiona Vaillancourt.

WINDSOR

Coach: Jeff Bachey (3).

Last Year: 7-8-0, lost in first round.

Leagues: VPA Division III, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Olivia Rockwood (F), Lexy Merrill (D). Juniors — Evelyn Page (M), Morgan McKeen (M), Kate Murphy (D), Adi Prior (G). Sophomores — Elliot Rupp (M).

Newcomers: Senior — Jordan Gaito (F/M). Junior — Natalie Nichols (D/G). Sophomores — Holly Putnam (M), Sarah DeSchamp (D), Ember Pikramenos (D). Freshmen — Estella Attwood (D), Skylar Thibedeau (M), Sydney LaVanway (D/G).

Analysis: After struggling to a 3-12-0 mark during 2016, the Yellowjackets are 15-16-0 in two seasons under coach Jeff Bachey, who must overcome the graduation of 11 players from last year’s team. Seven starters return, however. “Even though we’re a young team, we have a good, experienced core,” Bachey said. “We have players stepping up into new roles.”

WOODSTOCK

Coach: Greg LaBella (20).

Last Year: 9-5-2, eliminated in quarterfinals

Leagues: VPA Division II, Southern Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Audrey Eggum (D), Bitty Alexander (D), Alice Sperber (D), Madison Reiger (M), Zoe Napier (M), Sophie Leggett (M). Juniors — Novah Conway (F), Faye Stevens (M), Ava Dotson (M), Eliza Dotson (M), Celia Burrington (D), Taylor Crompton (M), Lea Sperber (D). Sophomores — Abi Macillo (F), Hannah Reed (F), Taylor Blodorn (M) Skylar Hayley (D), Kelly Jackson (M), Emma Tarleton (G).

Newcomers: None.

Analysis: Woodstock returns 19 players with varsity experience after having 20 freshmen in the program last fall and is 22-21-4 the past three seasons. Sophie Leggett, a transfer last season from Gilford, N.H., is the Wasps’ leading returning scorer with five goals and two assists. The team was on a 6-1-1 tear last fall before suffering a 6-0 loss to Rice in the state Division II quarterfinal round.