Boys’ soccer previews: Falcons have a new head coach for the first time in program history

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL and DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 08-23-2023 5:10 PM

Since Bow High School opened in 1997, the Falcons have only ever had one boys’ soccer coach: George Pinkham. That will change in 2023.

After amassing a 347-110-18 record with four championships and 10 championship appearances over 26 seasons, Pinkham retired at the end of last fall, after Bow finished 12-6-0, losing in the Division II quarterfinals to Oyster River. Former ConVal head coach Josh Smith takes over the program, the first time someone other than Pinkham will lead the way.

But it’s not like Smith’s walking into a total rebuild. Bow will bring back nine of its starters from last year. Among returners, Smith said, he expects senior midfielders Colby Smith and Eli Berrigan, senior defender Brodie O’Neil and junior midfielder Luke Hartshorn to play big roles.

So far this summer, the Falcons have played summer league games in Henniker against a few other schools. Beyond just implementing his on-field vision for the team, it’s been a chance for Smith to get to know his players better off the field as their new coach.

“(I’m) really taking the time to try to get to know some of the guys that were the key players last year, other guys who were on the team, too, and just get a sense for who they are, what their goals are,” he said.

With this being the first time the boys’ soccer program has seen a coaching change, implementing what Smith wants his team to do on the field has also been a key focus.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Teachers resist plan to combine Mill Brook, Broken Ground principals
NH doctor works to rebuild online reputation after TikTok spreads false news
Stacy Wakefield dies less than 5 months after her husband, Tim Wakefield
One last plea to save historic home: Norris House on Main Street due to be torn down soon
Free house for grabs – historic home is all yours, if you can move it
High schools: MV boys win on Simonds buzzer-beating 3 in OT, Pembroke also advances in D-II

“We want to be on the ball a little bit more than we have been previously,” he said. “Use some of our attacking talents, move the ball around, get into good areas, try to score a bit more goals, while also focusing on the defensive end and making sure we’re minimizing the amount of goals we’re giving up and things like that. Just a bit more attack-minded than previous years.”

The Falcons open their season on Friday at Kingswood before their home opener on Tuesday against Pembroke.

“I think we’re just excited to get it going,” Smith said. “We’ve been spending the summer getting ready and strategizing different tactics and ideas and lineups and seeing where everyone fits together, where we can get the most out of them and just trying to get it going. Hopefully we’ll play some good soccer this fall.”

CONCORD

Division: I.

Coach: Scott Dunlop (29th year).

Last year: 6-7-4, reached prelims.

Returning players: Nicholas Reynolds, sr., D; Benjamin Hughes, sr., M/F; Nicholas D’Agostino, sr., D/M.

Top newcomers: Bronson Becker, sr., M/F; Dean Ayotte, so., F; Charlie Ruopp, jr., M; Matthew Jenness, sr., G/F; Irankunda Mvuyekure, jr., M/F; Teigan Mason, sr., M/D.

Outlook: The Tide is a “young team looking to find (its) form and identity with a number of new faces,” according to Dunlop. The only returning defender, Reynolds will anchor an entirely new back line, and Concord will rely on his leadership and experience. D’Agostino will be in charge of the midfield and be the link between the defense and the attacking core. Hughes will be the main target for the attacking unit, which will have Ayotte, Becker, Ruopp and Mvuyekure to support the offense. Jenness will be in goal and so far has demonstrated he can be vocal to help organize the defense. Jenness will also be needed to command the penalty area in the air with his size.

Teams to beat: Hanover, Nashua South, Nashua North, Bishop Guertin, Windham.

COE-BROWN

Division: II.

Coach: Christian Gompert (12th year).

Last year: 11-5-2, reached quarterfinals.

Returning starters: Alex Readel, sr., G; Bruce LaPierre, jr., F; James McKane, jr., D; Liam White, jr., M; Max Heigis, sr., M; Nick Ball, sr., M; Ryan Kouchoukos, jr., M.

Top newcomers: Ben Silvester, jr., M; Brady Colgan, so., F; Caleb Jones, jr., F; Casey Colby, jr., D; Danny Grober, sr., M; Kasey Siering, so., D; Ryan Matson, sr., D; Tom Maskwa, fr., F; Zalan Miko, sr., M.

Outlook: “Returning only seven players can have its challenges, but those seven players are a very strong foundation for us,” Gompert said. “The new players coming in are giving us continued defensive consistency and some new looks offensively. We’ll have to see early on how we match up to opponents, but we’ve seen some exciting moments in preseason. They have tremendous potential to develop quickly, as long as they learn how to stick by one another, stay hungry and stay humble throughout the process.”

Teams to beat: Oyster River, Bow.

JOHN STARK

Division: II.

Coach: Zach Shedlock (second year).

Last year: 3-13-0, did not make tournament.

Outlook: “We are still growing the program back to where it should be after a few down years,” Shedlock said. “We’ve lost a strong senior class and hope to continue to build on what they left. We do have a large freshman class, which helps, and a few will be on varsity. This year’s team will be competitive in every game and continue to grow.”

MERRIMACK VALLEY

Division: II.

Coach: Ken Fuller (ninth year).

Last year: 10-7-1, reached quarterfinals.

Returning starters: Owen Piper, sr., D; Brady Turgeon, sr., M; Trevor Simonds, sr., G; Andrew Surprenant, sr., M; Eli Wormald, jr., D; Joey Olivera, jr., F; Logan Vong, jr., M; Carsyn Perkins, jr., M.

Top newcomers: Davian Loiselle, so., M/D; Rutger Gilliland, so., M; Jonas Weed, so., D; Vuk Korasic, so., M.

Outlook: The Pride has a lot of talent, but how well the pieces fit together will determine how MV does this season.

“There is a lot of skill on this team,” Fuller said. “We have new additions to a lot of starting positions. Having Trevor (Simonds) in goal for another season will be a huge plus for us. With his height and athletic ability, he will keep us in the games. We lost our top scorer last year, so we will see who will step into that piece to put the ball in the back of the net.”

Teams to beat: Bow, Oyster River, Kingswood, Lebanon.

PEMBROKE

Division: II.

Coach: Drou Goff (first year).

Last year: 3-12-1, did not make tournament.

Returning starters: Jacob Hanson, so., F; Dominick Sapounas, jr., M; Abdalla Faiad, sr., D; Colby Pepka, sr., M; Cam Clarke, sr., F.

Top newcomers: Jacob Watts, so., F; Tyler Ginn, so., D.

Outlook: With Goff replacing Peter Bisson after 16 seasons as the head coach, the Spartan program is seeing a lot of changes and growth in a new system in a short period of time.

“We’ve got a good core of returners in key areas of the field, mixed in with a lot of young energetic players looking to make an impact with their first real contributions at the varsity level,” Goff said. “After a tough previous season for the team, we are looking to make a push for the playoffs this year. Biggest focus and keys to success for the group will be keeping organized both defensively and offensively, and confidence/composure in our patterns of play.”

BELMONT

Division: III.

Coach: Michael Foley (24th year).

Last year: 14-3-2, reached semifinals.

Returning starters: Manny Mahoney, sr., D; Owen Waldron, jr., D/M; Jaxson Embree, jr., G.

Top newcomers: Brody Ennism, fr., M; Adam Twamley, fr., D; Sam Slayton, so., M/F; Wyatt Carroll, so., M; Brady Fysh, so., D; Brady Thurber, jr., M; Keegan Martinez, jr., M.

Outlook: After winning just three games and missing the playoffs in 2021, the Raiders made huge gains in 2022.

“We will be a team that is in construction for the first part of the season,” Foley said. “We are replacing eight starting players from (last year’s team). With all of the changes the team has a lot to learn about each other. We will find our way to build on each game with the intention of improving each and every day.”

Teams to beat: Gilford, Hopkinton, Prospect Mountain, Campbell.

BISHOP BRADY

Division: III.

Coach: Peter Steese (second year).

Last year: 12-4-2, reached quarterfinals.

Returning starters: Seamus McIntyre, jr.; Boden Gendron, sr.; Gabriel Zinkin, sr.; Nicholas Brown, sr.; Nicholas LeBlanc, sr.; Nicholas Yonaitis, sr.; Alex King, jr.; Anthony Dow, so.

Top newcomers: Ryan Casey, so.; Andrew King, fr.; David Cameron, fr.

Outlook: “It will be a rebuilding year for Bishop Brady,” according to Steese. “Brady will have to address the graduation of several impact players in Nick and Nate Steigmeyer, Liam Masner, Jack Beauchesne, Michael Thresher, Nick Brown, Maxwell Brooks, Christopher Messmore and Agustin Carrion.”

Teams to beat: Gilford, Belmont, Kearsarge, Hopkinton, Derryfield, St. Thomas.

HILLSBORO-DEERING

Division: III.

Coach: Joey Gillett (second year).

Last year: 11-6-1, reached quarterfinals.

Returning starters: Dylan Braun, sr., M; Logan Miller, sr., D; Mason Ferwerda, sr., F; Brady Curley, sr., F; Dan Franklin, sr., D; Mason Savoy, jr., G; Joey LaValley, jr., M; Alex Crowe, so., M.

Outlook: The core of last year’s Hillcat squad is still intact, and H-D boasts a strong senior class that includes captains Braun, Miller and Ferwerda.

“Our strong senior base this season is looking to carry our momentum from last season and make a strong playoff push,” Gillett said. “The players we did lose have left behind some big gaps, but I know the team is capable of filling those roles. Last year we were viewed as underdogs all season, and I expect we will not be considered the same this year, so finding ways to motivate and encourage the crew will be a fun challenge.”

Teams to beat: Gilford, Kearsarge, Belmont, St. Thomas.

HOPKINTON

Division: III.

Coach: Scott Zipke (18th year).

Last year: 5-10-2, reached prelims.

Returning starters: Colby Boissy, sr.; Owen Wuellenweber, sr.; Cam Bassett, sr.; Avery Condon, sr.; Mike Pantano, jr.

Top newcomers: Fin Murphy, so.; Nolan Linstad, fr.; Nate Windhurst, fr.

Outlook: After an off year in 2022, the Hawks “hope to keep improving, moving forward and improving every day,” according to Zipke. “We’d like to limit opponents’ easy goals and be more creative on the offensive end.”

Teams to beat: Gilford, Campbell, Mascoma.

KEARSARGE

Division: III.

Coach: Couper Gunn (second year).

Last year: 12-5-1, reached quarterfinals.

Outlook: The Cougars have some key players back after recovering from injuries and hope to make a deeper run in the playoffs in 2023.

Teams to beat: Gilford, Kearsarge, Campbell.

WINNISQUAM

Division: III.

Coach: Tom Osmer (fourth year).

Last year: 12-5-0, reached prelims.

Returning starters: Logan Heath, sr., D; Keegan Adams, sr., D; Lauren MacDonald, sr., D; Henry Osmer, sr., M; Colby Blackburn, jr., M; Justin Tardif, jr., M; Zach St Onge, sr., F; Taber Haggett, so., F.

Outlook: The Bears are coming off their best season in recent years, earning the No. 7 seed for the tournament after a solid regular season before being upset by No. 10 Hillsboro-Deering.

“The potential to have a good season is there,” coach Osmer said. “We have a very experienced roster loaded with seniors and juniors. The bench is deep, and we will have players coming into the game who would have easily been starting for us during previous seasons. We still need to sort out the goalkeeper position with several new keepers competing for the job. Last year we proved we could score goals, but we need to be better at not conceding so many. Defending has to be a priority for us. We also need to do better in the postseason.”

CONCORD CHRISTIAN

Division: IV.

Coach: Craig Anthony (seventh year).

Last year: 18-0-1, D-IV champions.

Outlook: After graduating seven seniors and four All-State players from last year’s championship squad, the Kingsmen will need players to step up in those roles in order to remain near the top of the division.

PITTSFIELD

Division: IV.

Coach: Logan LaRoche (first year).

Last year: 1-15-0, did not make tournament.

Returning starters: Brayden Pelletier, jr., M; Justin Rivera, sr., M/G; Owen Clark, 8th grade, D; Casey Anderson, sr., F; Caleb Cassin, jr., D.

Top newcomers: Mason Weldon, eighth grade, F; Jacob Cassin, fr., M/F.

Outlook: Coming off a one-win season, the Panthers are still in a rebuilding phase.

“The team has a lot of room to grow over the course of the season,” LaRoche said. “The youth of this team provide a lot of excitement for what could be as they continue to age and hone their skills. This year will be about establishing a culture of hard work and team development. Our strength is in our youth, who truly love the sport; however that same strength also means that our team is mostly young and inexperienced.”

]]>