NHIAA Boys' Soccer Preview: Talent to boot
Central's Amar Dzelivic (3) battles with Alvirne's Joshua Bellomo during the NHIAA Division I boys' soccer semifinals last year at Stellos Stadium, in Nashua. Dzelivic is one of the state's top returning players. (Thomas Roy /Union Leader)
The Scoop / Boys' SoccerDivision I
Top Contenders: Hanover, Manchester Central, Pinkerton Academy, Alvirne, Concord, Exeter.
Top Contenders: Oyster River, Hollis-Brookline, Windham, Lebanon, Souhegan.
Top Contenders: Hopkinton, Bow, Prospect Mountain, Somersworth.
Top Contenders: Sunapee, Pittsfield, Wilton-Lyndeborough
Players to Watch: Amar Dzelivic (Central), Santiago Rodriguez (Memorial), Jared Casazza (Exeter), Todd Righini (Salem), Cole Owens (Hollis-Brookline), Bryce Schultz (OR), Chris Morse (Lebanon), David Carbonello (Windham).
In Division I it’s Manchester Central, which returns talented midfielder Amar Dzelivic and has added Eddie Rodriguez at the position to give the Little Green a potent one-two punch.
Dzelivic is in his third year on the team and Rodriguez returns after being academically ineligible last year. Little Green coach Chris LaBerge said the two compliment each other well, Rodriguez being the creative and risky one while Dzelivic is more disciplined and conservative.
“He’s a good decision maker, good on the ball and a playmaker,” LaBerge said. “He’s also been on the team for three years so he’s a good leader.”
Owens is the real deal. He netted 23 goals and 12 assists last year for the Cavaliers, who have lost to Windham in the finals two straight seasons.
“He’s looking good,” Carvalho said. “He’s big, fast, strong and a good finisher.”
The duo will give the Cavaliers a tough matchup both up front and in the midfield the rest of Division II will have a hard time containing.
Central should be one of the favorites to regain its crown at the end of the season. Some of the other serious contenders are reigning champ Hanover, Pinkerton Academy of Derry, runner-up Alvirne, Exeter and Concord.
The Jaguars have a good group back including David Carbonello (19 goals, 13 assists), Jon Ferri and Alex Sexton, who will anchor the defense.
The team to beat in Division III is reigning champ Hopkinton. Runner-up Bow will be tough, as will Prospect Mountain of Alton and Somersworth.
The reigning champ in Division IV is Derryfield of Manchester, but the Cougars graduated eight seniors, seven of whom were starters.
Other teams in Division IV to watch out for include Sunapee, Pittsfield and Wilton-Lyndeborough.