High schools: Defense fuels MV in key win over Milford

  • Merrimack Valley midfielder Matt Renfors (13) heads the ball away from the Pride’s end during Tuesday’s Division II contest against Milford in Penacook. MV scored three times in the second half to beat Milford, 3-1. JAY McAREE / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley’s Matt Renfors (13) stays tight on a Milford player near midfield during Tuesday’s Division II contest in Penacook. JAY McAREE / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley’s Griffin Wheeler (3) attempts to catch up to a long pass during Tuesday’s Division II game against Milford in Penacook. JAY McAREE / Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley senior Coby Mercier (11) heads the ball away from danger during the first half of Tuesday’s Division II contest against Milford in Penacook. JAY McAREE / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 10/8/2019 10:27:45 PM

At this point in the season with tournament time just around the corner, Merrimack Valley boys’ soccer coach Ken Fuller knows that every time his players step on the field, regardless of opponent, the contest should be treated like a playoff game.

So when Milford traveled to Penacook on Tuesday afternoon for a Division II showdown, and the Pride – playing with poise and a sense of urgency – handed the Spartans a 3-1 loss, Fuller felt pretty good about where his team is at with four games left on the schedule.

“They knew by winning tonight they move into the fourth seed, but with things so tight between one through 10 (in the standings), if you lose tonight, you drop down possibly even further,” said Fuller, who has the Pride rolling at 8-3-1. “Every game from here on out is going to be a playoff game, really, because every team is fighting for those spots. I was just glad we were able to come out and take care of business tonight.”

Fueled by three second-half goals and a shutdown performance by the defense, Merrimack Valley managed to exact some revenge on a Milford team that defeated the Pride, 3-2, in double overtime on Sept. 17.

Following a quiet first half for both sides, senior forward Logan Cassin opened the second half by breaking the scoreless tie when teammate Coby Mercier found him for a goal. Later in the half, Cassin returned the favor, this time dishing an assist to Mercier for the 2-0 lead.

MV would make that lead stick for almost the entire half thanks to the defensive efforts of seniors Matt Renfors, Jesse Hirwa, Dylan Campbell and Ryan Schoffield, as well as junior Connor Baldwin in front of keeper Mason Boudreau.

“Mason has been an amazing force back there, but he didn’t have a ton of saves today just because our defense played so unbelievably well,” Fuller said. “The defense made it a little easier on Mason because they didn’t allow too many shots, which isn’t necessarily what we’ve been doing, but today they really worked together and it showed.”

In fact, it wasn’t until Campbell was forced out of the game with an injury that Milford (6-3-2) managed to strike for its lone goal, taking advantage of a Pride breakdown with around seven minutes to play.

The Spartans nearly got one in the 65th minute with some pressure off a corner, but Renfors was there to turn not one, but two shots back.

Standing near the post, Renfors knocked the first attempt away with his foot before clearing the ball for good with his head.

The rest of Milford’s chances were few and far between.

“Defensively we focused on when a guy gets the ball, we’re going to put pressure on them right away and not give them the opportunity to turn and kind of do what they want with the ball,” Fuller said. “Tonight all those things clicked.”

Renfors then helped put the game completely out of reach when he sent a free kick over to Mercier, who fired the ball into the back of the net for his second goal of the game with under two minutes to play.

The schedule won’t let up for Merrimack Valley, either. The Pride will travel to first-place ConVal on Thursday for a 6 p.m. start.

Boys’ Soccer

Manchester Central 4,
Concord 3

Key players: Concord – Alejo Caceres (G, A), Mosi Masimango (G), Brandon Comire (G), Abbas Abdulrahman (5 saves), Faisal Abdallah (A), Duvan Morikawa-Montenegro (midfield), Danny Aybar (defense)

Highlights: Concord spotted Central four goals before coming to life late in the first half. Caceres got the Tide going with a goal in the 39th minute before Masimango and Comire came through with goals in the second half to cut the deficit down to one. Despite numerous chances in tense final few minutes of play, Concord couldn’t find the equalizer.

Coach’s quote: “The second against today against Central was the best half of soccer we played all season. The character of the team really came out.” – Concord’s Scott Dunlop

Records: Concord 4-6-1; Central 9-1-0

John Stark 5, Kennett 0

Key players: John Stark – Josh Reynolds (G, A), Marc Morette (2G), Jackson Ugarte (G, A), Riley Brooks (G), Daniel Hilyard (shutout)

Highlights: John Stark scored all five goals in the second half and Daniel Hilyard earned his fourth shutout of the season.

Coach’s quote: “Glad for our team today for finding the back of the net and getting the win. We have been in a lot of close games lately, so this feels like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders. We got to keep fighting hard and continue this in our games to come.” – John Stark’s Gerry Allen

Records: John Stark 4-6-1; Kennett 2-10

Bow 4, Manchester West 1

Key players: Bow – Ryan Leonard (2G), Zachary Anderson (G, A), Matt Selleck (G, A), Daniel Leuchtenberger (A), Graham Weisberg (defense), Connor Wachsmuth (defense)

Highlights: Leonard’s goal five minutes before halftime gave Bow a 3-1 halftime lead and Leonard’s second goal, 15 minutes into the second half, cemented the win.

Coach’s quote: “We didn’t kiss our sister today. Good tough win against a West team that has beaten some good teams and can score a lot of goals. It was good to see the offense come off life support and score some goals and the defense play good man-on-man defending to stop West’s strength, which is one-on-one offense.” – Bow’s George Pinkham

Records: Bow 6-2-3; West6-6-0

Hopkinton 0, Gilford 0

Key players: Hopkinton – Aidan Burns (5 saves), Mike Baer (defense), Peyton Marshall (defense)

Highlights: The Hawks dominated the last few minutes of regulation and all of overtime, but neither team could find the back of the net in a scoreless draw. Gilford had a dangerous flurry of opportunities on goal early in the second half, but Burns was there to make the save. Hopkinton had a potentially game-winning breakaway called back due to a controversial offsides call.

Coach’s quote: “Center backs Mike Baer and Peyton Marshall were the men of the match. Peyton, in particular, stepped up as he stopped Gilford phenom Sam Sawyer (one of the best players in D-III) from finding much room to work with all night.” – Hopkinton’s Scott Zipke

Records: Hopkinton 8-2-1; Gilford 10-1-1

Mascoma 4, Hillsboro-Deering 1

Key players: H-D – Evan Winters (G), Noah Urban (goalie)

Highlights: The Hillcats dropped a match on the road against the surging Royals, who are on a four-game win streak.

Coach’s quote: “We played well and had plenty of chances, just couldn’t find the net.” – H-D’s Glenn Winters

Records: Mascoma 8-4; H-D 5-5

Mount Royal 5, Franklin 1

Key players: Franklin – Jadyn Lutz (G), Nick Gammel (midfield), Kolbe Bunker (defense), Aidan Collum (defense)

Highlights: The Tornadoes kept it close in the first half and headed into the break tied, 1-1, but Mount Royal netted four second-half goals.

Coach’s quote: “This was a very physical game that came down to a few crucial mistakes in our end of the field in the second half.” – Franklin’s Kevin VanGorden

Records: Mt. Royal 1-1-8; Franklin 0-10

Girls’ Soccer

Concord 3,
Manchester Central 1

Key players: Concord – Kayli Daigneault (G), Ashley Plante (G, A), Mary Martinson (G), Allison Silverstein (A)

Highlights: Daigneault scored the first goal of the match, but Central scored less than five minutes later to tie the game, 1-1, at halftime. Plante knocked home a goal in a scrum in the box following a corner kick in the second half and Martinson’s strike finished off the scoring.

Coach’s quote: “It was a great win by our girls. Probably our best performance of the year to this point. We haven’t beaten Central in a few years so it was good to get that off our back. It was a great win, but we have to transition quickly to Goffstown tomorrow night.” – Concord’s Phil Tuttle

Records: Concord 6-4; Central 7-3

Merrimack Valley 7,
Manchester West 0

Key players: MV – Alyssa Woodman (2G), Kaylee Magoon (2G), Rhiley Tanguay (G), Rylee Boucher (G), Emily Koufos (G), Kristen Therrien (2A), Avery Turgeon (A), Mackenzie McDonald (A), Hayley Kenney (A)

Highlights: The Pride scored 10 minutes into the match and led 6-0 at halftime.

Coach’s quote: “A team win today. Glad to have contributions from everyone.” – MV’s Nick D’Agostino

Records: MV 5-6; West 1-10

Bow 3, Lebanon 0

Key players: Bow – Lyndsey LaPerle (G), Kristina Pizzi (G), Isabella LaPerle (G), Addie Trefethen (2A), Lindsey Burnham (A), Stephanie Gosselin (A), Taylor Burnham (defense), Chloe Binder (defense), Ally Boone (defense), Gracie Bresson (defense), Madison Roberge (midfield), Anna Lafreniere (forward), Madi Paul (forward), Emma Wilke and Maddy McSweeney (combined for shutout)

Highlights: Lindsey Laperle opened the scoring off a through ball from Trefethen, Pizzi scored on a great combination play with Lindsey Burnham and Isabella LaPerle rounded out the scoring, tucking a shot inside the far post.

Coach’s quote: “This was a good win. Nice to see the girls moving the ball and continuing to improve. The girls were all in today.” – Bow’s Jay Vogt

Records: Bow 10-1-0; Lebanon 2-7-3

Hopkinton 6,
Prospect Mountain 0

Key players: Hopkinton – Loren Charron (2G, 2A), Melana Curley (G, A), Lillie Presti (G), Jess Carney (G), Madison Carmichael (G), Annie Higginbotham (A), Caitlin Clark (A), Elise Miner (A), Elizabeth Berliner (defense), Emily Fleegle (3 saves)

Highlights: The Hawks scored three goals in each half, most of them one-timed shots coming from great crosses. Curley recorded her first ever varsity goal.

Coach’s quote: “It was a good game for us in terms of rotating lots of different players through the lineup. Another strong defensive performance from the backline and goalkeeper. Our counterattack is looking more dangerous too.” – Hopkinton’s Mike Zahn

Records: Hopkinton 9-2; Prospect Mountain 3-8

Coe-Brown 1, Plymouth 0

Key players: Coe-Brown – Sam Troy (G), Kendall Nester (A), Mackenzie Quick (3 saves)

Highlights: Troy scored in the 52nd minute and the Bears allowed just one Plymouth shot over the final 20 minutes of play.

Coach’s quote: “We needed this win for playoff standings in the next few weeks. This was huge with the logjam in D-II from No. 6 through 12 for the postseason. Plymouth always plays us hard and credit to coach Reed and the Bobcats, they played 80 minutes of strong soccer.” – Coe-Brown’s Josh Hils

Records: Coe-Brown 5-6; Plymouth 5-6

Field Hockey

Bow 1, John Stark 0

Key players: Bow – Lauren McKeen (G), Elizabeth Guertin (A, midfield), Barrie Guertin (forward), Megan Lavigne (midfield), Amelia Coe (defense), Maddie Tibbetts (defense), Emma Hilton (defense); John Stark – Sydnee Pelletier (21 saves)

Highlights: McKeen deflected a pass from Guertin off a penalty corner just over a minute into the game.

Coaches’ quotes: “It was great to see the girls play so well today. They had solid passes, were quick to the ball and played solidly in the circle on offense and defense.” – Bow’s Rebecca Cleary

“Bow beat us to loose balls and cut off a lot of passes. Great battle between very even teams.” – John Stark’s Dennis Pelletier

Records: Bow 5-5-1; John Stark 6-5-0

Kearsarge 7, Franklin 0

Key players: Kearsarge – Brier Roberts (3G)

Highlights: Devin Phyllides and Margo DelGuidice each scored their first varsity goals in the Cougars’ victory over the Tornadoes.

Coach’s quote: “We’re happy to string a couple of wins together as we head into three big games to wrap up regular season play.” – Kearsarge’s Chelsea Williams

Records: Kearsarge 5-6; Franklin 0-12

Merrimack Valley 2,
Milford 1, OT

Key players: MV – Taylor Bailey (G), Molly McLaughlin (G)

Highlights: The Pride got on the board with six minutes left in the first half after Bailey put in a cross pass from the right side of the circle. MV had 15 corners to Milford’s 2, including three in overtime. McLauglin’s shot from the top of the circle five minutes into overtime lifted the Pride to the win.

Coach’s quote: “I felt as if we were not completely prepared to play today. Sense of urgency is something we have been working on all season and we did not bring it in regulation play. However, it is always nice to execute on opportunities in OT and come away with the win.” – MV’s Jen Colgan

Records: MV 6-5; Milford2-10

Girls’ Volleyball

Coe-Brown 3, Laconia 1

Key players: Coe-Brown – Kaitlyn Miller (38 assists, 2 aces, 4 digs), Jessie Davis (15 kills), Anneliese Wade (11 kills, 2 aces, 2 blocks), Niki Smith (8 kills, 4 blocks, .700 hitting percentage), Liby Downer (2 kills), Molly Ewing (2 kills)

Highlights: The match ended with a clutch serve under pressure by Kathleen Grace, followed by a big block from Smith. The Bears won the first set, 25-16, lost the second, 23-25, but won the last two, 25-18, 25-10, to come away with the victory over the Sachems.

Coach’s quote: “We showed our depth tonight with players contributing in multiple positions. We exhibited some aggressive, but smart, offense and serving backed up by consistent defense and blocking.” – Coe-Brown’s Renee Zobel

Records: Coe-Brown 8-4; Laconia 5-7

Gilford 3, John Stark 2

Key players: John Stark – Lillian Stogner (21 kills, 12 digs, 4 blocks, 3 aces), Riley Lord (12 kills, 12 digs, 5 aces), Brooke Patnode (22 assists), Paige Hamel (3 aces off the bench)

Highlights: The Generals pushed Division II’s best program to the last point in the first set, but fell just shy, 26-24, and that’s the way the match would end. John Stark came back with a 25-20 victory to tie the match at one set apiece, but Gilford came back with a 25-17 win. The Generals tied the match again with a 25-11 win in the fourth and the fifth and deciding set came down to one point, but the Eagles won, 15-13, to remain undefeated.

Coach’s quote: “Tonight’s match was a thriller from the first point to the last point. Tonight we proved that we are a top four team and can battle with the best. We took the best team in our division to the last point at their house. I couldn’t be more proud of my team. ” – John Stark’s Jeff McClellan

Records: Gilford 12-0; John Stark 9-3

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