CONCORD — Despite his program’s recent struggles, Merim Husanovic and his Manchester Memorial boys soccer teammates never doubted they could be an NHIAA Division I title contender.

Last fall, two years after failing to make the division’s 15-team playoff field, the Crusaders went 11-2-3 and entered the D-I tournament as the No. 4 seed last season under new coach Jerold White. Thirteenth-seeded Portsmouth upset Memorial, 3-2 on penalty kicks, in the first round.