After the COVID-19 pandemic canceled this year’s edition of the Lions Twin State Soccer Cup, both boys and girls all-star games will return next year at a new venue using a new format.
Graduated senior all-stars from New Hampshire are scheduled to meet their Vermont counterparts in the boys and girls games July 17 at Hanover High School. The one-day event will also include a banquet for both games’ players and parents.
Funds raised from the games, which are run by the Lions Twin State Soccer Association, benefit the Green Mountain Lions Camp for deaf and hard of hearing children and the Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation of New Hampshire.
Previously the girls and boys games were held on different days at college venues, with a three-day training camp leading up to the charitable exhibitions.
Hanover boys coach Rob Grabill, who will serve as an assistant coach for the New Hampshire boys team, said each team will hold a one-day training camp the week prior to the games. The New Hampshire teams’ training camps will likely be held in Manchester, Concord or Nashua, he said.
Grabill said this year’s format is a trial run but he thinks moving to a one-day event will let players with club team commitments in the summer still play in the games and the centralized location of Hanover High will attract a larger crowd.
“I think it’s a great model for this year,” Grabill said. “We’re planning to learn from whatever happens this year. Like everyone else in the sporting world, we’re hoping to build back better.”
Lebanon boys coach Rob Johnstone will serve as head coach of the New Hampshire boys team alongside assistant coaches Grabill, Andy Helliesen (Mascenic) and Jack Iacopino (Sunapee). The New Hampshire girls will be led by Hanover girls coach Doug Kennedy and assistant coaches Patrick Mulcahy, who previously coached the Bishop Guertin of Nashua girls team, Mike Zahn (Hopkinton) and Sheli Aldrige (Pittsburg-Canaan).
Grabill said college coaches have already expressed interest in attending the games and added it’s very possible the NCAA recruiting dead period could be expired by then.
“College coaches will have one more chance to look at some of these seniors,” Grabill said. “If the best you can do is year-old tape and Zoom calls, having the chance to see players in live situations, I think, could be advantageous for some.”
If the pandemic is still ongoing in July and does not cancel the event, Grabill said there will be safety protocols in place similar to those for NHIAA soccer games this fall like teams wearing masks to and from the venue and while on the sidelines, social distancing on the sidelines and sanitizing commonly-touched surfaces.
“I don’t think there’s too many chances that we’ll be sidelined by that now that we don’t have to worry about sleeping in (college) dorms,” Grabill said. “If the banquet is a grab-and-go lunch, that’s great. We’ll sit out on the Dartmouth green and have lunch.”
Grabill is looking forward to reconnecting with players around the state he has gotten to know over their careers, give fans two excellent games to enjoy and raise as much money as possible for both the Lions of New Hampshire and Vermont’s charities.
“Going from no game at all to good, competitive games in a useful venue, I think it’ll be fun,” Grabill said.
New Hampshire Twin State Soccer Cup RostersBoys: Henry Aspinwall, Hanover; Alex Berube, Gilford; Charlie Breen, Windham; Hogan Cain, Coe-Brown Northwood Academy; Brandon Comire, Concord; Michael Curtin, Pinkerton Academy; Alasdair Ferrier, Concord; Ryan Hadouche, Nashua South; Josh Heino, Sunapee; Dylan Kotlowitz, Hanover; Jackson Lasweicz, Exeter; Sam Latona, Manchester Central; Alex Lin, Souhegan; Jonas O’Mara, Keene; James O’Hara, Winnacunnet; Emmanuel Orozco, Nashua South; Preston Neal, Windham; Drew Richards, Exeter; Andrew Middleton, Bedford; Matt Selleck, Bow; Jake Silva, Timberlane; Nate Sottack, Belmont; Tyler St. Martin, Lebanon; Connor Wachsmuth, Bow; Charlie Zwierzchowski, Keene.
Girls: Chloe Binder, Bow; Brenna Bushe, Winnacunnet; Erin Cammarota, Goffstown; Caitlin Clark, Hopkinton; Erin Flurey, Manchester Central; Ella Fraser, Exeter; Rachel Gizzonio, Milford; Macy Graves, Pinkerton; Morgan Hock, Newmarket; Abby Husson, Windham; Charlotte Johnson, Hanover; Kaylee Magoon, Merrimack Valley; Sage McGinley-Smith, Hanover; Casey McGuire, Hanover; Siobhan McMakin, Merrimack; Kelly Perry, Alvirne; Kristina Pizzi, Bow; Abigail Pollari, Sunapee; Sally Rainey, Lebanon; Charlotte Sckaal, The Derryfield School; Emily Senko, Bishop Brady; Haleigh Swabowicz, Nashua South; Rhiley Tanguay, Merrimack Valley; Mikayla Thompson, Milford; Calla Tucker, Oyster River.