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Marauders blank Raiders on own turf

  • A shot from Hanover's Riley Craft falls outside the reach of Lebanon goalie Sally Rainey in Lebanon, N.H., Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. Craft contributed two goals and an assist to Hanover's 4-0 win. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Elsa Bolinger, of Hanover, right, looks to pass up the field as Klaleh Punni, of Lebanon, challenges in Lebanon, N.H., Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. Hanover won 4 - 0. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Pepper Joseph, left, and Sage Mcginley-Smith, middle, congratulate their Hanover teammate Riley Craft on her second goal and the Marauders' third in their 4-0 win over Lebanon in Lebanon, N.H., Tuesday, Sept. 17, 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 Sports Editor
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

LEBANON — The visitor viewing Lebanon High School’s soccer match field sees a soft, verdant, well-conditioned carpet. Lately, Hanover High girls soccer coach Doug Kennedy has envisioned a natty unwelcome mat.

So the best thing that happened for Kennedy’s Marauders — beyond getting a 4-0 win over the Raiders in an NHIAA Division II contest on Tuesday — was simply putting a ball in the net and doing so before many folks had a chance to sit.

Riley Craft scored the first of her two goals barely two minutes into the contest, essentially laying waste to any upset plans Lebanon (1-4-1) may have had. Winners of three of the last five D-II state titles, the Marauders (5-0-0) hadn’t scored on the Raiders’ turf since 2016, coinciding with all-state goalkeeper Sally Rainey’s reign in the Lebanon net. Trips down Route 120 the last two years resulted in back-to-back scoreless draws.

“Sally’s a great goalie; we know that,” Kennedy said. “We’ve had other games on this field where we haven’t scored, haven’t scored, haven’t scored. But getting that goal breaks it down; it means, ‘Oh, we can do it.’

“And we know if we keep coming at it, we know we’ll get more. Very significant.”

Perhaps more than any sport, soccer often favors the home team. The margins between win and loss are so tight that one goal and a good defense can often decide a match.

Fourth-year Lebanon coach Breck Taber is trying to rebuild his back line, the near entirety of which graduated last year. He still has Rainey, however, and the junior is good enough to steal the occasional result.

Hanover gave her and her teammates little chance for a theft on Tuesday.

“That first goal, I think, deflated us,” Taber said. “I don’t know that we ever mentally rebounded back from it. ...

“It didn’t really change our game plan. I’d watched them play; they had three central midfielders. We had a game plan to kind of combat that, and in order to make that work, you still have to mark up the three. When you see girls running free, it doesn’t make the game plan work.”

Craft put Hanover on the board at the 2:01 mark, converting the first of the visitors’ seven corner kicks on the afternoon.

Pepper Joseph sent the service from the right corner. Rainey charged off her line in an attempt to punch the ball clear. It landed at Craft’s right foot; with time to settle the ball, the senior half-volleyed a 20-yarder into the open left side of the net.

“They don’t stand and watch; they pass and move and create opportunities,” Taber said of the Marauders. “If you don’t run with your mark, those opportunities turn into goals.”

Hanover amassed four corners in the opening 13 minutes and forced Rainey (10 saves) into some early acrobatics. She hit the turf to block a Sage McGinley-Smith bid in the fifth minute, added a leaping denial of Charlotte Johnson in the eighth, robbed McGinley-Smith on a breakaway in the ninth and confidently gobbled up another Joseph corner in traffic seconds after that.

Lebanon’s starting back four of Mary Rainey, Claudia Simione, Kiera Hines and Kayla Taber slowly grew into the contest, even as the Raiders struggled to get the ball into dangerous positions beyond midfield. But misfortune struck in the form of an own goal at 30:25 to double Hanover’s lead.

Rainey charged to the top of her penalty area to beat McGinley-Smith to a through pass. The keeper’s attempt to kick the ball clear instead hit a retreating Hines squarely before rebounding into the vacated goal.

“I tried to get them to just forget about it,” Taber said. “The first goal two minutes in was because of kind of poor marking. It was just bad luck on the second goal.”

The Marauders put the match away with two quick scores out of halftime, speed of foot and of play factoring in both.

Craft notched her second marker of the afternoon at 45:55, running behind a Lebanon defender to latch onto a Johnson pass for a 12-yard finish off the underside of the crossbar. Tic-tac-toe passes from Craft and Johnson led to McGinley-Smith’s one-timer from 22 yards at 48:16 that looped over the leaping Rainey.

Craft (seven goals), McGinley-Smith (four) and Johnson (three) have accounted for 14 of Hanover’s 18 goals to date.

“If you have just one speedy forward, then teams can key on them,” Kennedy noted. “But if you’ve got three, you can’t double up on three forwards.”

It produced a more welcome result for Hanover in a place where comfort has often been elusive.

Corner Kicks: Bella Bardales didn’t have to make a save over 52 minutes in the Marauder net. Lauren Ilsley stopped a bid from Lebanon’s Rachel Harrington moments after taking over in goal. … The Raiders’ Megan Gradijan took a ball to the face in the 25th minute but returned after the half. … Both teams are back in action on Friday, Hanover hosting Kearsarge and the Raiders visiting Plymouth.

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