After having more than a dozen seniors graduate from a 2013 team that posted a modest record and didn’t advance as far as it would have liked in the Division I tournament, the 2014 Londonderry High School girls’ soccer squad will aim to show what a mix of battle-tested veterans and a slew of newcomers can accomplish in its tough class.
Coach Derek Dane’s 2013 Lady Lancers finished two games over the .500 mark at 9-7-2 during the D-I regular season, ending up seventh overall. And their uniforms went into mothballs after the squad’s quarterfinal-round tournament loss to the Exeter High Lady Blackbirds.
And among the team’s many personnel losses were standouts Maeve Holland and Aliza Simpson, who both went on to colleges with athletic scholarships. Holland will play soccer and lacrosse at the University of Richmond (Virginia) and Simpson is set up to play basketball at the University of New Hampshire. But those two stalwarts were just two of the Lady Lancers’ departed.
“We graduated 14 seniors and have eight players on our roster who have never played a girls’ high school varsity soccer game,” said Dane.
But with those facts laid out, the veteran coach still looks up and down his present roster with optimism. However, there are also notes of caution from him.
“We’re young but talented,” he said. “How well we defend as a team will determine how far we go. We need to win the one-goal games.”
Among the team’s veterans with the most varsity seasoning are senior forward Emily Crocetti and senior midfielders Noelle Lambert and Cassie Moore, junior forward June Cranmer, and sophomore defender Gretchen McGrath.
Other returnees to the varsity crew are junior goalie Jackie Luckhardt, sophomore middie MacKenzie Donovan, and sophomore defender Andi Nelson.
The Lady Lancers’ list of promising newcomers is lengthy and includes seven players in either their sophomore or freshman campaigns.
The group also includes senior defender Maria Pento, juniors Breda Holland (a middie) and Stephany Joncas (a defender), sophomores Sarah Desmarais (middie), Laura Doherty (defense), Hailey Laliberte (middie), Ali Nelson (forward), and Katrina Rivard (middie), and freshmen Erin Barnes (middie) and Halle Hamilton (defense).
When asked to take a look at Division I and point out which opposing teams concern him most, Dane stated, “The usual suspects, Pinkerton, Exeter, and Bedford. Merrimack and Bishop Guertin will be strong too. And Alvirne has come back to the division, so it will be interesting to see how they perform in their first season back.”