By Tris Wykes
Copyright Octopus Athletics 2021
HANOVER – Returning only four starters on a high school varsity soccer team can indicate a long season ahead. Particularly in the rugged confines of NHIAA Division I.
With the Hanover boys program, however, rebuilding is a foreign concept and reloading is an annual affair. This year’s Marauders shouldn’t be any different despite losing seven starters from last autumn’s squad (9-1-1) that reached the state semifinals a year after winning the title.
“We’ve got the requisite experience and a nice youth movement,” said 16th-year coach Rob Grabill, who’ll deploy eight seniors, including his entire back line. “In August, you just want to play well and take notes and learn. But we open with Concord, Exeter and Beford, so we’re going to find out in short order where we stand.”
Senior Oscar Miller will be Hanover’s lone striker, although joined on many forays by Carter Guerin, a sophomore attacking midfielder. Senior Murphy Hunt will also see plenty of time at this position.
The left wing will feature Guerin’s twin, Will, splitting time with senior Jakob Kubik-Pauw, and the right is manned by returning All-New England honoree and Eric Ring.
“Ringer’s already showing he’s deserving of that reputation,” Grabill said, noting the senior twice scored two goals in a preseason game.
The two other central midfielder slots are likely to see a three-way rotation with junior Becket McCurdy and sophomores Ryder Hayes and Zach Tracy. The back line features central defenders Palmer Okai and Jack Ross and outside competitors Luke Ives and Connor Hamlin. Junior goaltender Ty Nolon is a second-year starter and touted by his coach as an “athletic shot-stopper”.
“We were better today than yesterday and we hope to be a lot better this week than last week,” Grabill said. “But how good will we be by mid-September.”
Notes: The Marauders open this afternoon at Concord, which won the 2015 and 2017 state titles. The Crimson Tide was thumped in a recent preseason game at Lebanon, however… Hanover played a pair of short scrimmages earlier this week at Applejack Stadium in Manchester Center, Vt. The natural grass surface there is widely known as one of the best in New England. “Better than Burnham Field,” Grabill said, referencing Dartmouth College’s well-tended turf. “It was like playing on a putting green.”… Grabill said Hamlin has been his team’s highest-graded player throughout the preseason… The coach said that while NCAA Division III schools are interested in Ring, his academic goals may steer him towards a larger institution where he might play club soccer… Henry Aspinwall, last season’s starting striker, is taking a gap year in Spain… Windham, which beat host Hanover in last season’s semifinals and then won the championship, brings back triplets Max, Sam and Ryan Husson… Hanover was 14-2-4 two years ago and won three playoff games on penalty kicks en route to the title… Hanover did not receive either a yellow or red card all of last season.
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