Marauder Boys Soccer Will Be Strong Again
Two years ago, Hanover was the new kid on the block in NHIAA Division One, confident in their ability to be competitive, but wondering how it would all play out. Since then, they have amassed a record of 36-3-1, with two trips to the title game and a Division Championship last year, capping an undefeated season.
With a bullseye firmly affixed to their backs, the Marauders waved goodbye to ten seniors, including eight of the starters who carried th e load for the last two seasons. Over seventy-five percent of last year’s goal scoring is gone. Three of the top 11all-time scorers in the program have graduated. We’d list their accomplishments, but it would take too much space and generate angst amidst Hanover fans who may not be fully acquainted with the depth of the Marauder feeder system. It’s never been about who’s not there at Hanover. It’s always about who shows up, and the journey they have in front of them.
The cupboard is hardly bare for Hanover. The Marauders will be particularly strong on defense. What a surprise. Two of the key defenders from last year’s back line that allowed only five goals in 20 games, co-Captains Luke Strohbehn and Andrew Kazal have moved easily into their leadership positions, Strohbehn in the center and Kazal on the left flank. Seniors Max Greenwald and Cian Kelly are ready to slide into starting roles after being valuable reserves. Junior Reilly Decker and sophomore Adam Pikelny will provide valuable relief. Junior Ian Caldwell is next year’s center back, and he’ll see some time on defense. He’ll also play midfield. He’ll also play up top. You never know where you’ll find #24, except that he will be somewhere out there.
Hanover is loaded in goal. Senior Konrad Mitchell will be the starter, after serving as backup last year. When he was not Getting Air in his successful quest to become a national-level moguls skier, Mitchell was doing everything necessary to emerge as a true team leader. Junior Connor Edson and Sophomore Patrick Logan would start anywhere else in the state. Edson was the Main Man on last year’s Division One JV Champions, and Logan made it impossible to cut him during tryouts with his athleticism and attitude.
The Marauders have a wealth of talent at midfield. Juniors Asa Berolzheimer and Jonah Levine were starters last year, and were key contributors to last year’s title run, right down to Berolzheimer’s winning goal in the championship game. Asa is a two-way player with a nose for the goal, and will be getting the green light to get forward this year. Levine took on the huge responsibility of being the sitting midfielder last year, inheriting the mantle formerly held by some of Hanover’s greatest, including current Assistant Coach Tommy Clark. Jonah’s a ball winner with incredible toughness and touch. As if that’s not enough, he’ll be asked to get forward and chip in a goal or two. Hanover’s midfield depth also includes skillful senior Josh Wallace and sophomores Jake Acker and Marcus Helble. Senior Jules Evens is dealing with a cranky back, and when he gets healthy, Hanover will have another dangerous weapon to deploy.
Hanover’s attackers may be relatively untested, but they bring a lot to the table. Junior Tim Alibozek scored three goals in limited action last year, and is hungry for more. His classmate Jamie Dinulos scored the game-winner in the Semifinal against Concord, and has shaken off a preseason knee injury. Senior Noah Kahan is one of the best headers on the team, and can play anywhere up front. Seniors Avery Kravitz, Henry Allison and Chris Powell were leaders on the Marauder JV last year, and have made a smooth transition to varsity play. Sophomore Will Smith earned a spot on the varsity with his athleticism and maturity.
Up top the Marauders are young but deadly at striker. Sophomore Sam Strohbehn already has a year of varsity experience under his belt, and can finish in a number of ways. Freshman Seth Stadheim carved a spot for himself on the varsity with a brilliant preseason, and will get plenty of playing time.
The pieces of the puzzle are all there. The team will be challenged as never before by a harrowing schedule, but the potential benefits are clear. “We’ll be vulnerable in the early going, but we will learn from every game, win or lose, “ commented Coach Rob Grabill. “By the time we get to the part of the season in October when the results really matter, we will be a team capable of defending our championship against anyone. We have great leadership, and our team chemistry is developing rapidly. Right now we are focusing on the journey. The destination will take care of itself.”
The Marauders opened their season with a last-minute win over Bishop Guertin by a 1-0 score, and now take on three of the top teams on the state. They play archrival Concord at home on Wednesday, Sept. 3 at 4:00, travel, to Exeter on Friday, and then return home the following Tuesday with a match against always-tough Londonderry.
– Karl Weis, Broadside soccer scribe