LEBANON – The Lebanon High girls soccer team concluded last season with a shutout setback at Hanover and a 3-9-4 record. There was certainly no shame in losing to a foe which finished undefeated and as NHIAA Division II champion, but the Raiders are hoping for a better overall showing this fall.
“We talk about things we want to do, now we’ve got to execute and hold each other accountable in practice,” said fifth-year coach Breck Taber. who is 22-35-10 at Lebanon. “If someone’s not putting in their full effort, you have to say ‘Hey let’s go. You’re better than that.’
“We’ve got to start practicing like we want to play in games and not go through the motions, because that’s what you’ll do in a game.”
The Raiders rode a six-game unbeaten streak to the 2018 quarterfinals and had no problem scoring goals. Last season, however, the offense dried up and the campaign brought memories of 2014, when Lebanon scored just six times and won three games while missing the playoffs for a second consecutive year. That’s when 11-year coach Shannon Boisvert resigned with a record of 110-71-17.
One thing neither Boisvert nor Taber got to enjoy back then were the skills of senior goalkeeper Sally Rainey, who earned All-New England honors last fall. Lebanon was outscored, 20-16, last year, but only once surrendered more than two goals in a game. The daughter of Dartmouth College women’s coach Ron Rainey has committed to play at the University of New Hampshire.
“I’ve said before that last season was like having this Cy Young (Award) pitcher with no run support,” Taber said in a Major League analogy. “We’ve got to put the ball in the back of the net. She can’t make 15 phenomenal saves and we lose, 1-0, with two scoring opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on.”
Senior Rachel Harrington, utilized all over the field because of her hustle and intensity, said Lebanon has been working on scoring in advance of Saturday’s season opener against… visiting Hanover. Gambling that Rainey and three fullbacks can hold the rear line, the Raiders will push their other players forward.
“We’ve been working a lot on crosses and one-time shots,” Harrington said. “All we can do is stay positive and work hard.”
Said Taber: “Unlike in the past, we have some natural goal scorers and some people who will run through you to get the ball.”
Sophomores Mary Rainey, a midfielder, and Delaney DeShane, a forward, should figure in the attack. Rainey, Sally’s younger sister, has put in long hours to develop poise and touch on the ball. DeShane, though diminutive, is a hard-nosed player who should often finish through effort.
Junior Alyssa Graber is another forward to watch and midfield includes junior Ella Longacre. The back line features rising standout Klaleh Punni and Kiera Hines, both juniors.
“Mary Rainey is a silent killer and I have a feeling she’s going to dominate,” Harrington said. “Ella Longacre is a force to be reckoned with because she’s tall and always gets a head on the ball and she’s got the long shots down.”
After its Hanover opener, Lebanon continues its season with a home-and-home matchup against Stevens, beginning Sept. 24 in Claremont. The return engagement is two days later at Harold R. Colburn Field.
Raiders fans should be aware of the updated spectator policy implemented by the high school Friday. An email from Principal Ian Smith read:
“After much thought, consideration, and a number of conversations with other school officials around the state, Lebanon High School has determined that at this time, we will limit the number of attendees at home games.
“Each student athlete will be allowed two tickets for guests. The visiting team will be allowed the same. To have no regulation or maximum capacity in place does not parallel what most other schools are doing.
”There has been considerable time and energy invested on the part of players, coaches and the school community at large to make sure that our athletic programs remain intact and able to compete.
“Although masks and 6′ distancing will be required, we remain concerned that we may potentially jeopardize the continuation of the programs if we have an open door policy in place with an unlimited number of people attending these events.
“We will be providing a live stream option so that those who are interested can watch the games remotely. More information on how to access those games will be forthcoming.
“We are committed to reevaluating this decision in the second week of October once we have a better feel for how we will manage these games in a safe manner. Our first concern is that these programs continue without incident and remain available for students to continue to participate.”
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