Early-round victories over the Dover High Green Wave and the Salem High Blue Devils last week placed the streaking Londonderry High boys’ soccer squad into Division I semifinal-round tournament action this week.
The third-seeded Lancers managed to edge number 14 Dover by a goal in sloppy and uncomfortable weather in an opening-round tournament match at LHS Wednesday, Oct. 28. And three days later they were a goal better than number six Salem in quarterfinal-round action on their home pitch as well.
Those successes – the team’s eighth and ninth in a row – put Londonderry into a semifinal-round battle with second-ranked Hanover at Nashua’s Stellos Stadium on Wednesday, Nov. 4, after Londonderry Times press time.
In the dumping of Dover, which was played in rain and bone-chilling temperatures, veteran stalwart Max Hastings’ goal on a penalty kick with a mere 12 minutes remaining in regulation time gave the locals the 1-0 win over the upstart seacoast crew.
Londonderry had defeated the Green Wave by a 3-0 tally in the regular season meeting of the two sides on the seacoast Oct. 19, but the awful weather that greeted the teams for their tourney meeting made everything a little more interesting as well as uncomfortable.
The Lancers needed overtime to get past Salem at LHS last Saturday, Oct. 31, but the weather was far better at least.
The Blue Devils were coming off a 3-1 home win against the defending Division I Champions Pinkerton Academy in preliminary action.
The hosts snared a 1-0 lead midway through the first half when Nalen Iarribino was set up by Elijah Ellis. But the Blue Devils potted the equalizer with 16 minutes remaining in the second half, and overtime wound up being necessary.
LHS veteran Nate Gaw became the hero for Londonderry four minutes into the extra stanza after taking a pass from Ellis and getting the ball into the Salem cage.
“Today I thought we did a great job of playing with intensity,” said LHS coach Todd Ellis. “The whole team was into the game, whether it was with their play on the field or support from the bench. We created several quality scoring chances but finally got one to count in the end. The team did a great job defending.”
The Lancers finished in a 2-2 deadlock with Salem when the two contingents met up during the regular season on Sept. 29.
As it looked forward to this week’s semifinal contest against Hanover, Londonderry worked with the knowledge that it had bested the Marauders by a 5-1 score in their regular season meeting early in the campaign. But Hanover outscored its two tourney opponents by a combined tally of 11-0 and had a winning streak that had reached 11 games going into the semis.