By Tris Wykes
HANOVER – Sage McGinley-Smith had only a few steps of open room Wednesday, but the Hanover High striker made the most of it, arcing a 25-yard shot over backpedaling Lebanon goalkeeper Sally Rainey.
McGinley-Smith’s 22nd-minute strike decided the rivals’ third meeting this season, the host Marauders prevailing, 1-0, at Merriman-Branch Field. Hanover, which posted a 1-0 victory over the Raiders on Sept. 19, owned a 15-1 shot advantage and took four of the NHIAA contest’s five corner kicks. The arch-rivals tied, 0-0, six days ago.
“Early in the game, our possession was great, really dominating and creating opportunities,” said Hanover coach Doug Kennedy, whose team improved to 7-0-1. McGinley-Smith’s goal “was awesome and she came so close on another one that hit the bar.”
Lebanon (4-2-1) was stronger in the second half and manufactured a couple of scoring chances. Hanover’s inexperienced goalkeeping tandem of Rebekah Rudd and Emily Kleber held the fort but is a facet playoff foes will seek to exploit.
“We played a little nervous,” said Lebanon coach Breck Taber. “We come in with a lot of energy and it’s almost too much. We just have to play with intense composure for a full game and not in five- or 10-minute spurts.”
Taber felt his defense was strong, allowing virtually no through balls, snuffing out danger on corner kicks and stepping quickly to ball carriers. He was not as pleased with his midfielders.
“There was a lot of watching and taking too many touches with the ball instead of playing it easy,” the coach said.
Hanover, the defending Division II state champion, moved up to Division I this season but has only faced one team from that classification. “Randomly generated” playoff seeding placed the Marauders fifth in their region. They’ll face sixth-seeded and visiting Concord in a 4:30 p.m. play-in game on Tuesday.
“It’s not like going to the playoffs normally,” Kennedy said. “Who knows where we really stand?”
Lebanon faces a similar situation in Division II. The Raiders have beaten Stevens three times by a combined 10-2. However, they are seeded fourth in the region and must travel to Claremont on Oct. 29 to tackle the top-seeded Cardinals.
“I’m thankful we’re even out here,” Taber said. “If you’d asked me in August if we’d make it through the season and not get shut down completely, I would have been like, no chance.”
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