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Concord boys’ soccer team comes up short in upset bid of top-ranked Hanover

  • Concord junior defender Augustine Fornor loses a header to Hanover's Xavier Tchana as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Concord junior defender Augustine Fornor loses a header to Hanover's Xavier Tchana as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Concord junior defender Augustine Fornor feels the pressure from Hanover's Xavier Tchana as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Concord junior defender Augustine Fornor feels the pressure from Hanover's Xavier Tchana as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Concord junior midfielder Daniel Nkhalamba stumbles in front of Hanover's Parker Chartier as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Concord junior midfielder Daniel Nkhalamba stumbles in front of Hanover's Parker Chartier as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Concord junior defender Augustine Fornor stumbles while fighting Hanover's Rocco Linehan for the ball as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Concord junior defender Augustine Fornor stumbles while fighting Hanover's Rocco Linehan for the ball as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Concord freshman defender Emmanuel Smith chases down the ball as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Concord freshman defender Emmanuel Smith chases down the ball as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Concord junior defender Augustine Fornor pushes the ball as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Concord junior defender Augustine Fornor pushes the ball as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Concord junior defender Augustine Fornor loses a header to Hanover's Xavier Tchana as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Concord junior defender Augustine Fornor feels the pressure from Hanover's Xavier Tchana as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Concord junior midfielder Daniel Nkhalamba stumbles in front of Hanover's Parker Chartier as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Concord junior defender Augustine Fornor stumbles while fighting Hanover's Rocco Linehan for the ball as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Concord freshman defender Emmanuel Smith chases down the ball as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • Concord junior defender Augustine Fornor pushes the ball as Hanover beats Concord High School 1–0 in Division I boys' soccer semifinals at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Thursday, November 7, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

NASHUA – All season long Concord dominated with defense. The Crimson Tide held opponents to just 0.53 goals per game, and it was the only team in the state to shut out Hanover, posting a scoreless tie against the Marauders back on Oct. 17.

The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide controlled Hanover’s top scorers again last night when the two teams met in the Division I semifinals at Stellos Stadium. The Tide’s defense showed its usual skill, speed and strength, but Concord lost sight of a sophomore sub for one moment, and that was all it took.

Jamie Dinulos snuck behind the Tide’s back line with 7:08 left in the first half, Xavier Tchana found him with a pretty pass, and Dinulos, who had been on the field less than a minute, scored the goal that would give No. 1 Hanover (18-0-1) a 1-0 victory and a spot in Sunday’s final.

“I saw (Tchana) ... and I knew he gives a great ball across the box, so I was just there at the right time and the right place,” said Dinulos, who has now scored two goals this season.

To be fair, the Marauders definitely earned that lead. They controlled the run of the play for the first 40 minutes and had two near misses earlier in the first half. Tchana missed an open net in the ninth minute, and a bouncing ball off a corner kick was ticketed for the Tide goal before midfielder Matt Chartier, who was stationed at the post, cleared it away in the 24th minute.

And on the other side, Concord (14-3-2) was having all kinds of problems finding touch and sustaining possession on the slick turf at Stellos. The Tide practiced on the artificial surface at Concord Sports Center on Tuesday to prepare, but Wednesday’s rain made the field in Nashua extra slippery and quick, and the time indoors didn’t really help.

“We didn’t get any rhythm in the first half, we were just really out of sync,” Concord Coach Scott Dunlop said. “We couldn’t find a flow in the game.”

The slick surface was certainly a problem, but the Tide’s mental game was also an issue.

“I don’t think we came out with the right mindset in the first half. Warmups were a little slow and we definitely came out a little flat,” senior captain Kyler Thayer said. “We played kick ball instead of playing the style that we’ve been playing this year, and it didn’t work out for us.”

And, of course, Hanover deserves plenty of credit for knocking Concord off its game.

“It seemed like we were ready for the game,” Dunlop said, “but they just took us out of rhythm.”

Dunlop made some adjustments at halftime, urging his team to push farther up the field and not give the Marauders as much time and space to receive the ball, turn and attack. For the first 15 minutes of the second half, those adjustments didn’t seem to matter as Hanover once again set up shop in Concord’s end.

But the Tide pulled itself together midway through the second and began to push back. In the 56th minute, Dan Vignati and Mohamed Mohamed linked up and nearly found an open Isaac Dugas at the far post before Hanover’s defense got in the way. Still, the play earned a corner kick and gave Concord a spark.

From that point on the Tide pushed forward, like Dunlop asked, and began an aggressive search for the equalizer. Concord really had no choice but to attack at that point, but it also knew the back line of Thayer, Augustine Fornor, Gaston Arocena and Emmanuel Smith could handle any counter-pressure from Hanover.

“They have great defenders ... and they really shut down our best strikers,” Dinulos said. “They’re just so good at defense.”

A Dugas and Chartier connection earned the Tide a corner kick in the 68th minute, which turned into a series of corners, but Concord couldn’t do anything with the opportunities. The Tide threw everything at the Maruaders from then on, including moving Fornor up top, and had a couple looks at the goal, but nothing found the mark.

So now Hanover will face No. 2 Alvirne (17-2-0) in Sunday’s championship. The Broncos beat two-time defending champion Manchester Central, 3-2, in overtime in the first semifinal.

“(Hanover) is a good side, they’re really tough,” Thayer said. “I’ll give it to ’em, and best of luck to ’em in the finals.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)

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