By Tris Wykes
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION – The Hanover High boys soccer team remained undefeated Thursday with a 3-1 defeat of host Hartford at the Maxfield Sports Complex. The Marauders held a 36-3 shot advantage and took 16 of the contest’s 18 corner kicks.
Shane Miller made 10 saves, including stopping a second-half penalty shot, for the Hurricanes. The hosts surrendered the game’s first two goals shortly before halftime and fell to 2-3. Hanover improved to 5-0. It has outscored its opponents this fall, 17-2.
“I was pleased with how hard we played and with five minutes left in the first half, we were at 0-0,” said Hartford coach Kevin Guilbault. “I was hoping to get to the break like that, but next thing you know, we’re down, 2-0.”
Hanover’s Henry Aspinwall, a long and lanky senior, posted his team’s first and final goals and Oscar Miller struck in between. The Hurricanes had more success during the second half against the Marauder reserves, Nick Martin spoiling the shutout bid with 27 minutes remaining.
Hanover is “filled with kids who play at a high level in club and in New Hampshire Division I,” Guilbault said. “They’re good, tough athletes who play hard. That’s not just a team out there being pretty.”
Hanover, the defending NHIAA Division I champion, opened the scoring 3 minutes and 36 seconds before halftime after a Ryder Hayes shot slammed off the crossbar. Hartford’s defense stood and watched as Aspinwall hopped to gently head the rebound over Miller.
The visitors struck again two minutes later. Hartford defender Jackson Smith attempted to clear the ball across the penalty area but misjudged the closing speed of onrushing Hanover striker Oscar Miller. Smith’s boot caromed off Miller’s shin and into the net.
“You can’t gift them goals like that,” Guilbault said. “But they put you under pressure so you can’t do much with the ball.”
Hanover notched its final tally 10 minutes after intermission. Aspinwall used his head to send a sharp shot off the ground from the left side of the penalty area and inside the far post. The striker’s skill in the air and his willingness to dribble through contact are major assets.
“I like to keep the ball close to myself and guard it with my body,” Aspinwall said. “If the opportunity to shoot comes up, I’ll take it, but I like to pass it off when I can.”
Ian O’Brien, one of Hartford’s center fullbacks, has played club soccer with many of Hanover’s players. He said matching the Marauders’ speed while communicating with fellow defenders was a stiff challenge, one heightened by the Maxfield pitch’s full width.
“I think we defended them well individually,” O’Brien said. “They’re a very skilled team and they use the whole field, which is something we’re taught in (club). But we were able to get back into position well except the three times they put the ball in the net.”
Hanover is scheduled to host Mascoma on Saturday and visit Lebanon on Tuesday. On Thursday, however, the Raiders’ sports slate was wiped clean for at least the next four days by single positive Covid-19 tests in the middle school and high school.
Hartford hosts Woodstock on Wednesday before traveling to Green Mountain two days later.
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