action:article | category:SPORTS21 | adString:SPORTS21 | zoneID:40

Home » Sports » High School Sports

August 24. 2013 11:16PM

NHIAA Boys' Soccer Preview

Central, Bow boys seek third straight soccer crowns

From left are Keegan LaBerge, Head Coach Chris LaBerge, and Sam Binogono, during Manchester Central soccer practice on Thursday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

'The Scoop': Boys' soccer

Trends: The continued defection of players from the high school ranks to academy soccer programs means some teams are playing without their best players. Pinkerton Academy was hit especially hard, losing five players to academy clubs.

Players to watch: Hanover senior Daniel Hazlett (13 goals, 10 assists last year) will lead a strong Marauders team in Division I. In the DIII ranks, Derryfield School of Manchester has Austin Hammer as a top scoring threat.

Teams on the rise: Winnacunnet (led by four senior captains with three years experience each) in Division I. John Stark of Weare in Division II.

Teams in search of a three-peat and teams on the rise will be the theme in NHIAA boys' soccer this season.

The boys' soccer schedule kicks off on Friday with 30 games.

In Division I and III, two-time champions are in search of No. 3 as Manchester Central and Bow begin title defenses. Division II champ Windham and Division IV winner Derryfield of Manchester enter the season as defending champs.

Overall, the level of play remains on the rise.

"Soccer has come a long way. Teams are loaded with just soccer players now. The days of just putting athletes out there is long past," said Manchester Central head coach Chris LaBerge. "Now kids play year-round and there are some really good soccer players. It's a little more interesting now with the talent level so high."

Division I

Central knocked off Hanover 2-1 in the state championship and a repeat of that matchup wouldn't be a surprise to many.

"Central and Hanover (are favorites) by far," said Pinkerton head coach Kerry Boles. "Central just seems to reload. Hanover stepped into Division I last year and held their own and I don't see that changing."

LaBerge defers to Hanover and also calls Londonderry a strong contender.

"I don't think we're a favorite. I think Hanover will be right there as a favorite to win it and I think Londonderry will be strong again," LaBerge said. "They were excellent last year. I wouldn't say those two teams are better then us, but I'd give them a little edge because they have more returning talent throughout the lineup."

Hanover graduated eight starters, but three players with strong offensive skill will be back in leading scorer Daniel Hazlett (13 goals, 10 assists), Rocco Linehan (11 goals, seven assists) and Xavier Tchana (10 goals, four assists).

"With three 10-goal scorers, we're feeling pretty optimisitic that we should be able to take care of things offensively," said Hanover coach Rob Grabill.

Concord is expected to field a strong team, with Boles' Pinkerton squad and Exeter counted among the top teams as well.

"There will be six or seven teams that will only lose two or three games and could win it all," LaBerge said. "It was wide-open last year and I think it is again this year. It's the teams that can handle the pressure that will be in it at the end."

Boles' lost five players to the academy soccer programs, so his outlook is a question mark.

"I think Londonderry is going to be tough and I think Winnacunnet is going to surprise some teams," Boles said. "I think Keene and (Manchester) Memorial are going to take a step forward."

Divison II

Defending champion Windham graduated nine seniors from the team that beat Hollis/Brookline in a shootout in the state title game.

But the Jaguars are still expected to be among the top teams in the division yet again.

"Lebanon will be up there. Oyster River will be strong. Windham, Hollis-Brookline, they'll be good," said John Stark of Weare head coach Jeff Vogt.

Stark itself is a team that bears watching. With 14 returning players, the Generals will have an experienced core.

"Six of them I have had since they were freshmen: goalie Mike Prindiville, forwards Camden Williams, Serge Boucher, Adam Carr, Ethan Rousch and Josh Morin," Vogt said. "They all had siginificant playing time last season. We're in pretty good shape. Most of what we lost was on defense."

Division III

Division III has the largest pool of teams in the state with 28 schools. That leaves the potential for surprise teams at a high level.

Amid all that traffic, Bow's quest for a third consecutive championship remains a realistic one. The Falcons are projected to be one of the top teams in the Division yet again, with Hopkinton and a few other contenders hot on their heels.

"Bow and Hopkinton are the upper echelon," said Gilford coach Dave Pinkham. "(Runner-up) Belmont lost a few kids, but they should be back again. Laconia will be one of the better teams and White Mountaints Regional (in Whitefield) is always a very competitive team."

Meanwhile, Pinkham's team (the 2010 state champion) will be young and what the coach calls a "work in progress" that he expects to get better as the year plays out.

Division IV

Derryfield coach Jeff Cousineau is optimistic about his team's chances heading into the season with the target on its back.

"I think we're going to do pretty darn well," Cousineau said. "We obviously graduated some key players. We have a great group of kids returning, so I think we've been able to fill the spots and move forward."

Derryfield is led by senior tri-captains Jared Schoneberger, Austin Hammer (who scored the game-winning goal in the title game) and Tyler Zorn.

"Those three guys come with a ton of experience. The whole team is built around them," Cousineau said.

Littleton is expected to be a strong contender this year after ousting another expected upper tier team in Sunapee. Lisbon, which was 19-0 heading into the final against Derryfield, is expected to bounce back as well.

Other teams that could make some noise include Wilton-Lyndeborough and Newmarket.

 NH Sports Angle ╗ more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Former All-Star Red Sox shortstop Rico Petrocelli: ôblessedö to have grown up in Brooklyn, now lives in Nashua

Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk, right, tangles with Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask in the first period of Game 1 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinals hockey playoff series in this 2013 file photo.

NH-based insurer sues NHL to limit its defense in players concussion lawsuits

A's claim former Fisher Cat Marcus Walden

Mariano Rivera's son to pitch for NH squad

Kevin Davis, CEO and president of Bauer Performance Sports, displays Bauer Hockey's latest innovation in hockey skates — the Vapor APX 2 with easily changeable skate blades in this 2013 file photo.

Exeter-based Bauer continues to expand beyond hockey with $330M purchase of baseball firm Easton-Bell

Hollis-Brookline head football coach resigns unexpectedly

New owners for Waukewan Golf Club

Matches announced for USA v. Cuba clash at Rockingham Park this weekend

Boston Marathon victim Jeff Baumann throws out the first pitch prior to the start of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Fenway Park last year.

Service's creed on display in support of airman affected by Boston bombing

40-year-old Manchester mechanical engineer wins MMA decision

New Hampshire Motor Speedway touts viability of casino site in Loudon

USA Knockouts Tamed in Cuba

U.S., Cuba boxers clash in Havana, U.S. bouts set for Rockingham Park in Salem

Lee USA Speedway opens season April 13

Newmarket woman plans world-record cross-country run for charity


Is Chip Kelly racist?

World Series of Boxing event moved to Rockingham Park - USA vs. Cuba

Manchester man in top 30 candidates for Padres public address announcer

NH man helps MLB players deal with stresses on, off the field

Review of the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook

New Hampshire Motor Speedway may run Sprint Cup race in 2015 under the lights

How Boston lost the Patriots and 'New England' grabbed the NFL's 'Gold Standard'

Twin State Speedway gets new manager

Yale promotes former UNH coach to offensive coordinator

Bulldogs sign UNH's Nick Sorkin


 New Hampshire Events Calendar


Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory