Charlie Adams

Hanover’s Charlie Adams controls the ball during a game last week against Manchester Central at Gill Stadium.

OVER HIS first four games for the Hanover High School boys’ soccer team his freshman year, Charlie Adams scored three goals. Those three tallies were the start of his march to becoming the program’s all-time leading goal scorer.

Adams, now a senior co-captain, passed former Hanover and Dartmouth College soccer player Eric Jayne‘s program record of 50 career goals in stunning fashion last week.

The Marauders (8-1) were tied with Manchester Central at 2-2 at halftime on Sept. 24 at Gill Stadium. Adams led Hanover to a 4-2 victory by scoring the go-ahead goal on a free kick and adding an insurance tally later in the second half. To notch his second goal, Adams stole the ball from a Central player before dribbling upfield and finding the back of the net.

Adams tied the program scoring record on Sept. 21, when Hanover earned a 5-2 homecoming victory over Portsmouth. Jayne, who has previously served as an assistant coach for Hanover, was in attendance for that contest.

Bobby Dow, who helped Hanover win its first state title in 1968 and now has the third-most career goals in program history (48), was at Gill Stadium last week to watch Adams claim the record he once held.

“There’s so many amazing players that have come through Hanover,” Adams said. “It means a lot to be on top of that list with all those names.”

Adams, who will play at Brown next fall, has 54 career goals, including a team-high 12 he scored this season. He is also tied with 2005 Hanover graduate Ben Mackinnon for the program’s career assists record (42).

“My first high school game (I coached) was in 1974,” Hanover coach Rob Grabill said. “I coached in New Hampshire in 1975, so we can say I’ve been doing this for 45 years or so. I think (Adams is) the best.

“I’ve had guys play Division I (in college), guys play professionally...Charlie is probably as good as I’ve had.”

As talented as Adams is, he is still finding ways to better his game in his final high school season, Grabill said. Adams has improved his free kicks since last season and his knack for stepping up in big moments is uncanny, Grabill said.

Adams has seen a noticeable improvement in his confidence when playing some of the division’s top teams this year. He notched the game-winning goal with about 10 minutes left in Hanover’s 2-1 win over Concord last Thursday, scored in the Marauders’ 2-1 season-opening win over Exeter this year and logged both goals in the Marauders’ 2-1 regular-season victory over eventual Division I champion Bedford last year. Hanover was the only team that beat the Bulldogs last season.

Adams had never previously scored against Central or Concord and had not scored against Exeter since his freshman campaign before this season.

“Playing against the best teams, sometimes you might not have the best game because they’re on you or with the slightest touch, they’re right on your back,” Adams said. “It can be hard to keep your head up in games like that when the competition is so good.”

As much as Adams enjoys scoring, he is proud of how he involves his teammates either by dishing out assists or serving as a co-captain alongside classmate Kyle Doucette.

Adams has eight assists this season and recorded at least 10 in each of his previous three seasons. Doucette and Adams captain a Hanover team with 26 players, including 15 seniors, on its roster.

“My main goal being captain is getting the other guys involved, getting them confident,” Adams said. “If all 26 guys are in the same boat, it’s easy to make something special happen. If some people are not in it, it brings the whole team down.”

Adams, who also plays basketball for Hanover in the winter, took his official visit to Brown and met his fellow incoming classmates last weekend. The opportunity to play soccer collegiately is a dream come true, Adams said, but he is not ready for his high school career to conclude.

Adams’ name is already in the Hanover record books but he noted many of the players he has passed achieved an accolade that he has not: winning a state championship. The Marauders have not reached the D-I title game since defeating Alvirne of Hudson for the crown in 2013.

Adams wants to lead Hanover to its 19th state title not just for he and his fellow seniors’ legacy but for his grandfather, John Girard. Adams said Girard, who died before Adams’ junior year began, was his biggest fan and attended almost every one of his soccer and basketball games. The Marauders boys’ soccer team wore patches featuring Girard’s initials during their games last season.

“A lot of the guys on the team were close with him,” Adams said. “It’s something he’d want for us — is to play as long into the playoffs as we can. It motivates me to do that for him.”

Pinkerton boys still fighting

Kerry Boles said his Pinkerton Academy of Derry boys’ team displayed a no-quit attitude to earn its 1-1 draw with rival Londonderry last Saturday. The Astros are channeling that same mentality when it comes to qualifying for the postseason.

Pinkerton, which scored inside the final two minutes of regulation to tie the Lancers, is 1-6-2 with seven regular-season games left. The top 15 teams at the end of the regular season will qualify for the Division I playoffs. Windham earned the 15th and final playoff spot last year with a 4-9-3 regular-season mark.

“I could say for everybody, we want to make playoffs and make it as far as we can and just win all the rest of the games that we play,” Pinkerton junior Marcus Sconza said after scoring the game-tying goal against Londonderry last Saturday.

Boles said after last Saturday’s game that he had not talked to his players about it yet but the Astros have not missed the postseason once in the past 30 years. Boles does not want to break that streak this season but also understands his team has a lot of newcomers to the varsity level.

“It’s a situation that I also have to recognize the fact that there are 14 guys that have never played varsity before so I have to keep that in mind as well,” Boles said. “It’s baby steps. They’re just going to keep fighting and find a way and just get a little bit better every single day. That’s all I can ask for. And certainly the effort is the biggest part of it.”

After first loss, Gilford boys focusing on defense

The Gilford boys’ team surrendered twice as many goals in its 4-1 loss at defending Division III champion Campbell of Litchfield on Tuesday than it had in its previous nine games combined.

The Golden Eagles came to Litchfield having outscored their opponents 43-2 en route to a 9-0 mark that included seven shutout victories.

Gilford coach Dave Pinkham said his team is technically sound but Tuesday’s loss showed it needs to improve its play in the defending third. Pinkham said after Tuesday’s game that the Golden Eagles could not have played worse defensively in the loss. Campbell (8-0-1) scored on four of its five shots on goal.

Pinkham said he has an experienced back line that needs to lead.

“This is probably the most technical team that I have had so that’s a huge plus,” said Pinkham, who is in his 42nd year leading Gilford.

“But it’s one thing to be very solid technically but it’s another thing to be able to keep the other team from scoring.”

The High School Soccer column runs Thursdays during the season. Alex Hall can be reached at ahall@unionleader.com.