Marauders Beat Nashua South 2-1
The Hanover High boys soccer team won their most important victory of the season to date, a gritty come-from-behind 2-1 decision over an improved and contending Nashua South squad. The win gave Marauders a 4-4 record at the midpoint of the regular season, and give them a significant boost in their quest to climb into a good playoff spot.
Nashua South entered the game with a 4-2 record, playing with confidence after some good early results. Hanover was ready, however, and with the scudding clouds of Hurricane Jose threatening rain, they took an early territorial advantage. Charlie Adams had Hanover's first serious bid, missing wide right on a volley past the upright. Minutes later, Kyle Doucette just missed connecting with a Henry Kahl free kick at the far post. Nashua South was a threat on the counterattack, and Purple Panther striker Alvaro Ramirez got free at the top of the box and hit a hard shot that forced Marauder goalkeeper Hans Williams to make a good save. Willliams also raced off his line to the right corner of the box to beat Ramirez to a 50-50 ball, earning a citation for a completely dope play. Neither team was able to impose itself on the other before the halftime whistle, though, and the score at the interval was 0-0.
Hanover had a lively start at the beginning of the second half, with Earl Barrowes breaking into the box and hitting a hard shot that forced South goalkeepeer Roe Hendrick to make a spectacular diving save to his left, palming the ball wide of the post. Nashua South struck next, however taking a 1-0 lead when Panther striker Logan McIntosh pounced on a poorly-cleared ball after a corner kick and driving it into the Hanover net. The Marauders responded calmly, and immediately carried the play into the Panther end of the park. Charlie Adams sliced into the Nashua South Penalty area and took a hard shot that Hendrick parried, but was unable to control. The loose ball fell to Nico Mayo-Pushee, starting in place of Elias Zinman, and the junior winger converted the rebound for his second goal of the campaign.
The Marauders continued to press for the go-ahead score, with Henry Kahl teeing up several shots from outside the 18 yard line. Ten minutes after the game was tied, Hanover went ahead to stay when Charlie Adams burst through midfield at top speed, and threaded a through ball to Christo Dragnev, who made a superb run into space and then hit a hard drive past Hendrick for a 2-1 lead.
Hanover kept pushing for a third score, but Nashua South wasn't done, and the Panthers hit several shots that required Williams to make some of the best saves of his career. One drive by McIntosh was headed to the upper left corner of the net, but Williams managed to leap high to his right and push the ball past the post. He then had to duplicate his daring dives at the edge of the box, twice snuffing out Nashua South fast breaks. Finally, a hard shot by Emannuel Orozco was targeted for the goal before a full-out dive to his right by Williams deflected the ball past the left post.
Hanover's first two losses of the season, both 2-1 defeats, reflected a lack of maturity by the Marauder defense, and what a difference several weeks have made. Hanover was able to close out a hard-won game with gritty, intelligent defense. Center backs Ben Parrado and Gary Li made countless timely tackles, and owned the air with their headers. Sophomore Noah Pikileny had a breakout game, and right back Matty Gardner continued his steady play. This is the sort of defense that wins postseason games.
The Marauders return to action right away, taking to the road once again on Thursday for a match at Alvirne and a chance to hold a winning record for the first time this year. The road ahead is a long one, but the Marauders are heading in the right direction.