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Marauders Girls Soccer Edges Raiders in OT to Stay Undefeated

  • Hanover's Sage McGinley-Smith starts the team off in a cheer before the start of their game against Lebanon on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon's Olivia Fielder knocks the ball into Lebanon's possession and away from Hanover's Abigail Wilson on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. Hanover defeated Lebanon 2-1 in overtime. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Hanover girls soccer team swamp their teammate Pepper Joseph after making the game winning goal in their game against Lebanon on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. Hanover defeated Lebanon 2-1 in overtime. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover goal keeper Bella Bardales makes the catch to prevent Lebanon from scoring on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. Hanover defeated Lebanon 2-1 in overtime. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hanover — The high school rivalry between Hanover and Lebanon hardly needs extra spice, but it received some anyway with the thunderbolt conclusion of Wednesday’s NHIAA Division II girls soccer game between the neighboring foes.

Pepper Joseph’s 35-yard blast from the right side rose into the darkened humidity above Merriman-Branch Field, sailing over the gloves of leaping Lebanon goalkeeper Sally Rainey before dipping under the crossbar a minute into overtime. The incredible finish gave the hosts a 2-1 victory after they had surrendered the night’s first tally in the third minute.

“I sometimes have a feeling that it’s going to be a really good shot,” said Joseph, a junior midfielder and onetime club teammate of Rainey. “I had that feeling on this one, so I just had to take it.”

Said Hanover coach Doug Kennedy: “We weren’t going to beat her with a simple shot. It had to be something special.”

Joseph received a Bryn Kable pass in open space and had the time and composure to settle the ball and give it a slight tap forward before ripping it over the head of charging defender Megan Gradijan and past Rainey, a legitimate NCAA Division I college prospect and the daughter of Dartmouth College women’s soccer coach Ron Rainey.

“I was just trying to dip it over her hands,” Joseph said. “I’ve always wanted to score on her because we have a little rivalry, but she’s amazing. She played great, as usual, and she kept them in it.”

Rainey made six saves, and two were outstanding. Before Joseph’s strike, she was beaten only on a penalty kick that tied the game eight minutes after halftime. Hanover held a 9-4 shot advantage but was on its heels to start.

“We were really getting kicked in the first 10 or 15 minutes, but we brought the game around to what we wanted to do,” said Kennedy, whose undefeated squad slowly controlled the game with poised touches of the ball and consecutive, successful passes. “That’s a good thing to see, because this is a fairly young team.”

Lebanon (2-3-1) scored when senior midfielder Zoe Soule shot from a sharp angle outside the penalty area’s right side. The ball wasn’t particularly hard-hit, but it rolled across the goalmouth, past netminder Bella Bardales and just inside the left post.

“I was nervous and mad because we were playing frantically and out of our game,” Kennedy said. “We got totally revved up for the game, and that’s not how we want to be. We want to be calm from the very beginning, but the crowd was much bigger than usual, and loud.

“It was a slow process of coming back to the way we play, which is possessing the ball.”

Lebanon — bigger, older and more physical — made the Marauders (5-0-0) work. The Raiders fought for every loose ball, but also created far too many of them, sometimes holding the ball too long and having it stripped away and repeatedly turning it over on passes. Several prime crossing chances in the offensive end were booted off the end line.

Third-year Lebanon coach Breck Taber said he was pleased with his midfield play, however, and noted that he gave his back line strict instructions to simply kick the ball upfield.

“Their forwards are dangerous, so we told our defenders to limit their touches,” Taber said. “Just get it up the field, and we’ll take it from there.”

Rainey regularly punted 40 yards or farther, but Lebanon rarely followed with an offensive push. Raiders defender Izzy Peress fouled Hanover’s Casey McGuire from behind in the left side of the box, dropping the Marauder to the turf and resulting in her converting a penalty kick.

There wasn’t much protest from Lebanon fans on the call. They were up in arms, however, when Gradijan tried to split two defenders on the dribble and went down among a tangle of bodies in the Hanover box with five minutes remaining in regulation time.

The officials “said Megan was out of control, but she was the one who was dribbling and got fouled,” said Taber, wearing a sour expression. “I guess that’s soccer.”

Not long after, Lebanon took its first and only shot of the second half, Ashlyn Taber’s effort deflecting just wide of the left post. Overtime arrived and with it Joseph’s heroics.

“It was worth the price of admission and everything you could ask for in a Hanover-Lebanon game,” Breck Taber said.

Notes: Lebanon played without standout central midfielder Anna Wolke, who’s sidelined by mononucleosis. Breck Taber said the senior and three-sport athlete likely won’t be back until next month. … First-year Hanover athletic director Megan Sobel quickly confiscated a mechanical noisemaker set off by a Lebanon fan. Sobel, who previously worked in Dartmouth College’s athletic administration, said she’s been working 16-hour days to adjust to her new job, but that she’s relishing the change in scenery. … Joseph said “Pepper” is her given first name and added unprompted that no, she does not have a sibling named Salt. … Lebanon student spectators attempted to reignite hard feelings from the rivalry’s past by chanting “trust fund” at their Hanover counterparts. The taunts were met with silence. … Tom Frederick, Sunapee High’s longtime athletic director and baseball coach, was one of the game’s referees.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.