By Tris Wykes
LEBANON – Hanover High’s a bit down in boys lacrosse this spring. Lebanon might be a bit better. The gap between the neighboring rivals remains wide, however, after the Marauders’ 15-6 victory on Thursday at Henry Emerton Field.
Hanover, mostly middle-of-the pack in NHIAA Division I during the past decade, led 8-1 at halftime against the Raiders, who won only twice against Division III competition during their most recent season.
The score bulged to 12-3 late in the third quarter and the Marauders, now a Division II member, won the teams’ second matchup in three days by a combined 27-10.
Hanover’s Jack Badams had six goals and two assists on Thursday, while Brett Simmons had three goals and two assists and Sawyer Brown had two goals and an assist.
The Marauders took 47 shots, failed to clear only twice and won 20 of 25 faceoffs. Lebanon received two goals from Griffin Auch and single strikes from Ethan Price, C.J. Childs, Noah Meekus and Hunter Grant.
“We have a lot of development we still need to do, but our offensive group is capable of scoring goals in bunches,” said Hanover coach Ryan Gardner, whose roster is thinner and less-experienced than in recent seasons. “It was nice to have some other, younger guys get to play some meaningful minutes today.”
Attackman Seamus Murphy, a football running back, was another eye-catching player for the Marauders (3-0), producing a goal and an assist. Sizeable sophomore Brendan Logan scooped up 15 ground balls, playing with a long stick on defense and a short crosse on the man-up unit.
“He ignites our defensive and transition game,” Gardner said of Logan. “He’s got a good shot and good understanding of the game.”
For Lebanon, better throwing and catching, particularly while under pressure and/or on the run, is the main focus. Coach Cole Flannery, a Raiders assistant in 2019 and previously the head man at Sharon Academy, pointed out that his players dropped numerous balls on offense, forcing them to play defense most of the afternoon.
“We’re trying to hammer home the basics,” Flannery said. “Our goal this year is just to get better. Winning would be a great side effect, but if we lost every game and still improved every game, I’d be happy with that.”
Flannery said neither of Lebanon’s goaltenders have played the position before, so what’s long been a program weakness will continue for at least some time. Assistant coach Nick Wood said Thursday’s starter, Ethan Eshbaugh, has the raw talent to succeed, but needs the experience, which comes at a price.
The Raiders (0-2) have long lacked a strong feeder program at the youth level. Flannery, 35, said he’s working to coordinate with the eighth-grade coach in the town’s recreation department in hopes of keeping youngsters interested in the sport when they move to high school.
“We’ve got to make it happen or the program’s not going to grow,” Flannery said.
Notes: Lebanon’s field was plowed earlier in the day to clear it of snow. With the exception of some tractor tire marks in wetter spots, the grass was merely flattened, not torn up… The Raiders have only two seniors, both in their first season of lacrosse. One is soccer and hockey player Jake Kriplin, whose grit and speed made him a factor Thursday, when he rarely left the field… Lebanon is scheduled to host Division II Keene on Monday. Hanover hosts Derryfield on May 2. “It’s a huge luxury to get eight or nine consecutive practices after a season has started,” Gardner said. “It’s a chance to really get better, especially for a young team.”… Flannery, a former military member and Vermont Law School graduate, said a point of emphasis has been to reduce misbehavior amongst the Raiders, on and off the field. “If you’re losing and talking smack, you just look like a fool,” the coach said. “I have no patience for extracurricular activity.”
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