action:article | category:SPORTS13 | adString:SPORTS13 | zoneID:40

Home » Sports » Soccer

October 22. 2012 9:58PM

NHIAA soccer tournament: Who will rise to the top?


Bedford's Abby Kokkinos, left, and Exeter's Casey Scott go for the ball during the first half of their match up hosted by Bedford High School Tuesday. (MARK BOLTON/UNION LEADER)

It's only fitting Bedford, Londonderry, Hanover and Manchester Central earned one of the top four soccer boys' playoff berths in Division I this season.

“If you look at the recent past, Londonderry and Central played for the state title last season,” said Exeter head coach Jim Tufts. “Over in Division II, Bedford won the state title last year and Hanover won the previous six state titles. Those four teams are highly skilled, well coached and the cream of the crop this season. It's very realistic to think one of them will be holding the winning trophy.”

The boys' soccer tournament in Divisions I, II and IV begin Thursday at the sites of the higher seeds. There are four prelim games today in Division III beginning at 3 p.m.

Bow returns as the Division III defending state champ while Wilton-Lyndeborough will be trying to nail down its third straight Division IV state title.

The girls' soccer tournament in all four divisions begins Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Exeter shows no signs of relinquishing its hold on the Division I title in girls' soccer. The four-time defending state champion Blue Hawks are undefeated at 16-0 and have outscored their opponents by an overwhelming 80-14 margin.

They did get a scare on Sept. 13, beating fifth-ranked Pinkerton Academy of Derry, 1-0, in Exeter.

Can anyone beat Exeter?

In 2003 fourth-seeded Manchester Central, under head coach Peter Lally, knocked off undefeated Manchester West in the semifinals and went on to win the state title.

“Crazy things can happen in the tournament,” said Lally. “Make no mistake about it. Exeter has a terrific program. To beat them, you have to play a near-perfect game and hope at the same time that Exeter has a hiccup or two along the way. If you happen to take a lead on Exeter, you can't suddenly play not to lose. You have to play to win and some teams with little or no tournament experience tend to play not to lose.”

Lally said tournament games tend to be tighter because it's a one-game elimination format.

Lally said if Exeter wins the state title this year, giving the Blue Hawks six in seven years, people can start making the comparisons to Manchester West, which won 15 state titles, including eight in nine seasons under former mentor Jack Amero.

“West is still tops with 15 Division I titles and five runner-up plaques, but Exeter would be in the discussion,” said Lally.

Souhegan looks to defend its title this season in Division II. Bow is the returning champ in Division III and Sunapee, which snapped Derryfield's three-year reign last season, is the reigning champ in Division IV.

jhabib@unionleader.com


 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Maine fighters Lamour, Berry on New Hampshire boxing card

Q&A with Matt Bonner as he weighs free agency

Keene State mum on suspension of veteran track coach

Morgan Andrews speaks: Notre Dame star undeterred by U.S. U-20 World Cup snub

Mo'ne Davis, and why no one should laugh at the idea of a woman in Major League Baseball

Curt Schilling says smokeless tobacco caused oral cancer

Bill Belichick: Eagles joint practices as productive as any

Big Knockout Boxing has grown from NH debut to Las Vegas attraction

Toronto Blue Jays Minor League System: Philosophy change?

Spring trial likely for former UNH women's hockey coach

Special golf cart helping Vietnam veteran play game he loves article

And so it begins: Equipment distribution starts a new era in Plymouth football

Tailgating changes for UNH football games

Report: Pirates' pitcher Jeff Locke cleared in gambling probe involving childhood friend from Conway

Tim OSullivan: Even with NFL success, NHs Kelly remembers his roots

Chip Kelly: 'Put some Galoshes on and go play'

Survey says Duke the most hated college hoops team in NH

Cheyenne Woods, Tiger's niece, trying to make big time article

Gorham papermill owner Lynn Tilton is getting Yale tennis award

Ex-bank president co-authors racing book

New England Patriots are the most hated NFL team in the world

Travis Hughes: It's time to drastically overhaul minor league hockey in North America

Portsmouth native, 47, conquers 21-mile swim of the English Channel

Bennett to take control of the flags for Granite State Pro Stock Series

Air Force captain serving in NH honored before Red Sox-Yankees crowd at Fenway

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

    SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

    ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!