One more remaining: Hanover ousts Milford in OT girls soccer semifinal

  • Aspen Tlapa, of Milford, second from right, shoots just wide on the Hanover goal tended by Isabella Bardalas with help from Hanover defenders Ellison Stannard, left, and Eva Schiffman, right, in the NHIAA Div. II semifinal at Exeter High School in Exeter, N.H., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. The score was 0-0 with eight minutes remaining. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Charlotte Johnson, of Hanover, left, fights for possession with Meghan Cavanaugh, of Milford, during their NHIAA Div. II semifinal at Exeter High School in Exeter, N.H., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. The score was tied at 0-0 with 15 minutes remaining. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Sage McGinley-Smith, of Hanover, makes a run on goal ahead of Sarah Sawyer, left, and Caroline Raiano, right, of Milford during their NHIAA Div. II semifinal at Exeter High School in Exeter, N.H., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. The score was tied at 0-0 with 15 minutes remaining. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Sage McGinley-Smith, second from right, and her Hanover teammate Caroline Adams celebrate, and Milford’s Rachel Gizzonio, left, and Caroline Raiano, react, after McGinley-Smith scored the game-winning goal in overtime of the NHIAA Div. II semifinal at Exeter High School in Exeter, N.H., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. Adams narrowly missed a shot on goal, but McGinley-Smith was there to back her up, ending the game 1-0 only 26 seconds into overtime. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Joey Perras, of Hanover, stands to celebrate after stopping a penalty kick from Bedford’s Zachary Verow to clinch the NHIAA Division I championship win at Manchester Memorial High School in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/7/2019 10:00:01 PM

EXETER, N.H. — Charlotte Johnson sprinted down the far sideline on Thursday night and paused quickly outside of the box to receive the soccer ball. Milford goalie Jade Gregg had been playing high on crosses all game, so Johnson made sure to send her pass higher than usual.

Sage McGinley-Smith put her foot on the ball before Gregg’s outstretched hands could deflect it away 26 seconds into overtime, sealing a 1-0 victory for the No. 1-seeded Hanover High girls soccer team over Milford.

In an NHIAA Division II semifinal at Bill Ball Stadium that saw the No. 4 Spartans dominate for the better half of regulation, it was Hanover’s dynamic duo that needed less than 30 seconds to send Hanover to its second straight state championship game.

“Sage and I have been working on this play every day in practice,” Johnson said. “For it to work out in overtime is insane. When that ball came running through, I was thinking to myself, ‘Charlotte, run.’ So I just sprinted as fast as possible, and I got it off.”

Added McGinley-Smith: “Caroline Adams just missed it, and actually it was perfect because it went straight to me. I didn’t have a defender on me. I was just thinking, ‘Keep it low to the corner. Don’t sky it. Be composed.’ ”

With a hard downpour of rain and temperatures in the low 40s all game, Hanover seemed out of its groove for much of the contest. Maybe it was due to upset-minded Milford or struggling to adjust to conditions, but McGinley-Smith said something wasn’t clicking.

The Spartans were the more physical squad for 80 minutes and controlled possession. They outshot Hanover, 8-7, on the night.

Headed into the contest, the Marauders had outscored opponents 80-4 on the season. But on Thursday, they could only create a few chances, were called offside three times and didn’t have a corner kick opportunity.

“They really pressed us,” Hanover coach Doug Kennedy said. “There was some bumping going on, within the rules of the game, but they let us know we were there. I think it’s physically very difficult in these conditions. Obviously, they’re elated now, but they’ll be asleep on the bus.”

While the Marauders may have not controlled the pace of play, their defense made sure they never fell behind. Backs Abigail Wilson, Ellison Stannard, Eva Schiffman and Elsa Bolinger were keys to Milford not converting on any of its four corner kicks.

But it was the play of goalie Isabella Bardales that saved the Marauders again and again.

Bardales collided with a Milford attacker with 24 minutes left to stop a goal. Bardales knocked down a ball in the 60th minute and calmly broke up a one-on-one opportunity with 17 minutes to play.

“They came through for us so many times,” McGinley-Smith said. “That last half, they had so many chances. Against any other defense, there would have been three or four goals scored. They really won the game for us.”

Thursday night’s win keeps the Marauders’ undefeated record intact. They’re just a win away from finishing the season 19-0-0.

The win also sends Hanover to the state championship game on Sunday against Bow at Manchester Memorial High School. Playing for a title isn’t new in Hanover, especially for the group of nine seniors.

“We’ll have to rest now,” Kennedy said. “What we’ll have to think about more than anything is how we can get physically ready and come out and do the same kind of thing Sunday.”

“Are we going to change anything? No. We just have to play our game the best we can. Truthfully, in games like that, it’s about who brings the most energy and is the most relentless.”

Notes: A win Sunday would mark the first time Hanover has won back-to-back championships since it did so in 2014 and ’15. The last time both the girls and boys Hanover soccer programs competed for state championships was 2008. … McGinley-Smith now has 13 goals on the season. Johnson’s assist was her 15th​​​​. … Bow beat Hollis-Brookline, 2-0, in the early semifinal matchup. Hanover beat the Falcons, 3-2, in the regular season. … Hanover now has recorded 15 shutouts on the season.

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.




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