By Tris Wykes

Copyright Octopus Athletics 2021

NASHUA – A fabulous season ended in agonizing fashion for the Hanover High boys soccer team late Friday when it lost, 3-2, to Nashua North in the NHIAA Division I title game at Stellos Stadium. 

Following 100 minutes and a 2-2 deadlock, penalty kicks were called for and the top-seeded Panthers prevailed, 9-8, in 11 rounds.

Hanover’s Peter Jorgensen reaches to console goalkeeper Ty Nolon following the final penalty shot. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

The third-seeded Marauders (15-4-1), who had the run of play late in regulation time and during the two, 10-minute overtimes, sent midfielder Jacob Kubik-Pauw back for his second kick of the shootout. 

The senior was denied by Nashua South goalkeeper Leo Kopicko, and Harishkesh Dwaraka then scored against Hanover netminder Ty Nolon, clinching the division’s first undefeated season since Hanover pulled it off in 2013.

“It’s an endemic part of soccer but it’s certainly mitigated by the way we responded when we were down,” said Marauders coach Rob Grabill. “You claw back, and the end of regulation and the overtimes – we owned those. 

“To watch the numbers of passes we were connecting and the composure we had, it dulls the pain a little bit, because you want to play your best soccer at the end.”

The Panthers (18-0-1) surrendered the game’s first goal when Murphy Hunt scored on a head shot during the ninth minute. However, Nashua South, playing in its home stadium, answered just 21 seconds into the second half when Jadiel Bomfim broke in alone on Nolon and chipped a shot over the goalkeeper’s head.

The Panthers went up, 2-1, six minutes after intermission when Sammy Hadouche ran on to Ethan Emata’s free kick and knocked it down and in with his torso. Emata also assisted on Bomfim’s tally.

The Marauders pulled into a 2-2 tie with 14 minutes remaining in the second half. Eric Ringer was taken down from behind as he broke into the top of the box and awarded a penalty kick. His low shot just inside the right post was stopped by a diving Kopicko, but the netminder was whistled for moving too early.

Instead of Ringer retaking the shot, it was Kubik-Pauw who stepped to the stripe. His left-footed blast zipped under the crossbar.

“That was all their choice,” Grabill said. “I assume Ringer said, ‘Jacob, you take it.’” 

The shootout seemed to stretch forever, spectators cheering and groaning and wondering how the participants were able to withstand the pressure. When it finally ended, Nolon lay face-down for about 15 seconds, his teammates gathering around him in a consolation effort.

“Eventually, there’s a fatigue factor, which is why everyone was scoring,” Grabill said. “Once their keeper made the save on Jacob, I knew we were in dire jeopardy. 

“At that stage, it almost becomes comedic. By the 11th penalty, we’re pretty far removed from the game.”

Notes: Grabill said starting center back Palmer Okai competed with a strained knee ligament that forced him to exit late in regulation. The senior played only 10 minutes during the quarterfinals and 20 during the semis, the coach said… Hanover won the 2019 title on penalty kicks… Among the detrius left in the stadium stands was a handmade Hanover sign reading “Go Bears” and featuring a bruin’s paw print. The school remains ensnared in efforts to choose a replacement for the mascot and logo it’s used since 1951 and Bears and Hawks seem to be among the likely picks.

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