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Stick-to-it-tiveness serves Hanover boys lax well

  • Hanover's Brendan Logan (2) celebrates with teammate Noah Bradley after Bradley scored in the fourth quarter of their playoff game in Hanover, N.H., on May 31, 2021. Also shown are Hanover players, from left, Ethen Derksen, Jack Badams and Angus Frew. Hanover won, 8-5. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover's Jack Badams shoots on Kennett's Kyle Stearns during their playoff game in Hanover, N.H., on May 31, 2021. Hanover won, 8-5. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover's boys lacrosse team huddles up before the start of the second half of their game against Kennett in Hanover, N.H., on May 31, 2021. Hanover won, 8-5. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover's Dylan Hendrick runs upfield with the ball against Kennett's Branden Santuccio during their playoff game in Hanover, N.H., on May 31, 2021. Hanover won, 8-5. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/31/2021 8:59:20 PM
Modified: 6/1/2021 2:45:53 PM

HANOVER — The Hanover High boys lacrosse team led Kennett, 6-4, through three quarters in Monday’s NHIAA Division II first-round playoff game at Merriman-Branch Field.

It was 5-1 earlier in the quarter, but the Eagles had found their footing and come back. Still, Hanover head coach Ryan Gardner wasn’t worried. He told his players to keep doing what they’d been doing.

When senior defender Noah Bradley scored with 6:06 left, Gardner felt like his team had it. It did: Hanover held on for an 8-5 win to advance to the preliminary round.

“That was a tough team that hung around,” Gardner said. “And it wasn’t until Noah Bradley put in the long-stick goal right down here, it sort of broke their backs. As soon as that happened, it sort of felt like we were in a little bit better position because it just lifted the energy level.”

Hanover established its pace from the opening faceoff, controlling possession for around the first four minutes of the game. HHS was never in a hurry, always content to pass the ball around until it could set up strong looks.

Because of COVID-19, Gardner said fewer teams shared common opponents than normal, so Hanover didn’t know much about Kennett entering the game. So, he preached his own offensive philosophy, for Hanover to do what it always does.

“We try to move the ball to the back side and look for high-percentage opportunities,” Gardner said. “And sometimes that takes longer possessions than others. I think our first possession of the game was two to three minutes. We didn’t score on it, but we had five or six reasonable opportunities. And eventually those start to go, and it tires out the defense.”

Freshman midfielder Angus Frew opened the scoring with 3:38 left in the first quarter on an assist by senior attacker Jack Badams. The Eagles tied it with 1:17 left in the period.

Hanover took control on the scoreboard in the second stanza with three goals in a one-minute span. With 8:08 on the clock, senior attacker Noah Fahey scored off an assist by sophomore midfielder Jack Gardner, to regain the lead. After a Kennett timeout, junior midfielder Seamus Murphy scored unassisted just 24 seconds later. Then Badams scored at 7:08, assisted by sophomore midfielder Brendan Logan.

Hanover took that 4-1 lead to halftime.

Coach Gardner dubbed Logan and Jack Gardner standout performers in the game. He said their play in midfield was the difference-maker for Hanover.

“Brendan Logan in the middle of the field had 11 ground balls and really jump-started a lot of transition for us,” Gardner said. “Controlling the middle of the field and controlling the ground balls are very solid opportunities.

“And then Jack Gardner’s another guy who just picked up tons of ground balls for us. Every time that ball just sits there, dancing around, and daring everybody to pick it up. Those guys are the ones that really helped us get a lot more possessions.”

Senior midfielder Brett Simmons gave Hanover a 5-1 lead off a Fahey assist with 10:03 left in the third quarter, but Kennett answered less than a minute later. Simmons scored again at 7:38 unassisted, running from around midfield and dodging multiple defenders to get a good shot on goal.

Then Kennett scored with 4:18 to go in the third and again with 2:12 left to get it to 6-4.

Hanover’s defense held strong for much of the game. Freshman goalie Devon Pleger made four saves, as the defenders in front of him limited the action that went his way. Hanover cleared 13 balls successfully, with just six failed clearances.

This was just the second Division II opponent Kennett faced this season. Eagles head coach Steve Graustein said his team was even with Hanover in skill level but didn’t play its best.

“We made some mistakes that we shouldn’t have made and some penalties that cost us, and I think that was where (the decisive factor) was,” Graustein said. “We were getting a little frantic and everybody was trying to help out in the best way they knew how. And unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.”

Hanover will hit the road to face Bow on Wednesday in the preliminary round. After not having a season in 2020, Gardner and his team are just grateful to keep playing.

“It feels good (to advance). It’s a nice opportunity to keep playing together for a couple more days,” Gardner said. “And where that goes from here, who knows?”

Seth Tow can be contacted at stow@vnews.com.

Correction

Devon Pleger is a freshman goalie for Hanover High boys lacrosse and started Monday’s game against Kennett. He was misidentified in Tuesday’s Valley News.




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