High School Notes: Raiders Hunt for New Boys Soccer Coach, Again

  • Ben Pearson, Lebanon's new boys soccer coach gathers his team in a huddle before taking the field against Hollis-Brookline in Lebanon, N.H., Friday, August 24, 2018. Lebanon won the game 3 - 2. At left is Hunter Bienvenu and at right is Cooper Bourne. Second from right is Assistant Coach Luis Gomes. (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, December 04, 2018

Lebanon — Lebanon High is in the market for a varsity boys soccer coach for the second time in as many years.

Ben Pearson resigned from the job on Thursday, according to Lebanon athletic director Mike Stone, and the school began the search process a day later. Pearson held the Raiders’ reins for just one season, going 10-8-0 with a first-round win and a quarterfinal loss in the NHIAA Division II state tournament.

Stone declined further comment on Monday. Pearson offered no reaction when reached on Monday.

Pearson, a former Hanover High athlete who played professionally in Italy for a short time after graduating from a Maine high school, brought several years of coaching experience with the Norwich-based Lightning Soccer Club to the Raider position.

Lebanon had its best results under Pearson in the first half of the season, with a four-match win streak and a stretch of six wins in seven starts kicking the Raiders to a 7-3-0 record just past the season’s halfway point. Lebanon’s offense dried up as the campaign progressed and the competition got tougher; the Raiders played the No. 1, 3 and 4 teams in D-II down the stretch and were shut out five times in their final eight contests, capped by a 1-0 quarterfinal loss to eventual state champ Con-Val on Oct. 28.

Pearson replaced Rob Johnstone after the 25-year head coach stepped down last May to concentrate on his career as an English teacher at Windsor High School. Windsor AD Jim Taft had plans to make Johnstone something of a director of soccer operations with the Yellowjackets, where he wound up working with both teams in after-school workouts.

Johnstone also spent last fall as a volunteer assistant with Hanover High’s boys soccer program. Johnstone was on the sideline for the Marauders’ 4-0 loss to Manchester Central in the NHIAA D-I soccer semifinals on Oct. 31.

Stone said the deadline for applications for the Lebanon job is Feb. 1.

Floor Show: The members of the Oxbow and River Bend Career and Technical Center school board will take a moment to thank taxpayers when Oxbow High unveils its refurbished basketball floor at Mona Garone Gymnasium a week from tonight.

Voters in late March approved a $420,000 bond — by a 185-99 margin — to go toward improving the school’s athletic facilities. About $100,000 was applied to the floor project, which will get its first game use when the Olympians’ girls basketball team hosts Rivendell in a 7 p.m. varsity contest.

Oxbow athletic director Derek Cipriano said the new surface is largely light in color, although a darker stain was applied inside the 3-point arc as contrast. Work began on Oct. 1 and wasn’t completed until Nov. 26 — the first official day of winter sports workouts.

“That made it very difficult for the gym classes; they were outside as much as they could be or they were using the cafeteria space for that,” Cipriano said on Tuesday. “We weren’t able to do open gyms there. Blue Mountain (Union High, in Wells River) accommodated to allow us to get in a couple of days a week of that.”

Cipriano added that the district’s recent joust with the U.S. Olympic Committee over the school’s Olympian nickname played no role in any gym work. The USOC tried to strong-arm the district into dropping the moniker before agreeing to allow Oxbow to retain an identity that’s been tied to the school since its opening in the early 1970s.

A thank-you ceremony is planned for between the night’s junior varsity and varsity games with the Raptors.

Tee-Time Stars: Lebanon and Stevens both earned representation on the NHIAA Division III all-state golf team at the conclusion of the season.

Lebanon senior Kyle Pelletier landed on the D-III second team. The Raider senior was a consistent contributor throughout the fall on a squad that went 13-8 and finished eighth in the divisional standings. Pelletier ultimately took second behind Bishop Brady’s Nick Grimbilas, the D-III player of the year, at the state individual finals at Derryfield Country Club.

Stevens placed sophomore Finn Allen on the third team. The only returnee to the Cardinals’ small roster from last season, Allen also competed at individual states, sharing 15th place in a 28-golfer field. Stevens went 6-16 on the regular season, narrowly missing the NHIAA team championship at Laconia Country Club that was ultimately canceled by rain.

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


Former Lebanon High boys soccer coach Rob Johnstone helped out boys and girls soccer practices at Windsor High, where is he also an English teacher, this past season and added volunteer time with the Hanover High boys soccer program as his scheduled allowed. An earlier version of this story  inaccurately described Johnstone's coaching relationships in Windsor and Hanover.