Upper Valley Soccer Players Win Gold at Granite State Games
The top high school soccer players in the Upper Valley joined forces to win the Gold Medal in the recent Granite State Games, a statewide Olympic-style competition pitting regional teams. The Monadnock region team, coached by Lebanon High School’s Rob Johnstone and Steven Coach Jason Stone, defeated a powerful Coastal team 1-0 in the goal medal match at Southern New Hampshire University. It was the third time in three years that the Monadnock team won the title.
The Monadnock team, consisting mainly of players from Lebanon, Stevens and Hanover, qualified for the finals with round robin victories over the South and Lakes region by identical 7-2 scores. After losing a 2-1 decision to Coastal in the final game of pool play, the two teams than squared off in the Finals. Lebanon’s Owen Johnstone set up fellow Raider Nate Chickering for the only goal of the game with only four minutes gone in the match, and from there the Monadnock defense took over.
Defenders Sam Pych, Ben Parrado and Liam Collins of Hanover joined forces with Lyme’sArthur Clayton, a Thetford Academy Captain, to form a solid back four in front of goalkeepers Tanner Durkee of Stevens and Erik Spaulding of Lebanon, who split duties throughout the tournament. Parrado’s outstanding play at center back earned him Most Valuable Player honors for the tournament.
Monadnock also got strong midfield play from Stevens standouts Mitchell Paquette and Noah Spaulding, heading to Kimball Union Academy in the fall, as well as Lebanon’s Patrick Mason and Hanover’s Dillon Bradley. Although they were limited to one goal in the finals, Monadnock was the highest scoring team in the tournament, led by Chickering, as well as Lebanon striker Luke Sandmann and Hanover’s Charlie Adams. Adams also turned in a key defensive play, saving a ball off the goal line in a frantic five minute stretch in the second half when the Coastal team, loaded with players from Exeter, Pinkerton and Timberlane, hit the post twice and forced Erik Spaulding to make two point-blank saves.
“It was great to see us withstand some intense pressure and get a result,” commented Johnstone. “In past years we have been fortunate to dominate play in the finals, but Coastal is loaded this year, and they wanted it badly.”