Division 2 Top 5 Teams to Watch

# 5

Souhegan

Head Coach: Kelli Braley

Last Season: 13-3-0  (W-L-T), Final Four loss to Windham, 1-2.

Key Players Leaving: Midfielder Timber Devine

Key Players Returning: Senior forward Abigail Cranney (team's leading goal scorer) and Senior midfielder Erin McCool

Key Incoming Freshman: Cadence Summers

Biggest Strength: Leading goal scorer returns. With Cranney coming back goal scoring shouldn't be that big of a problem for Souhegan.

Biggest Weakness: Graduating 15 seniors, including their best player. They graduated their entire defense, but one. But their biggest problem is losing Devine. Her midfield presence will be missed, as she was one of the key players for moving the ball forward and being a defensive midfielder.

Prediction: Quarterfinals

This season we have the dedicated core of our team returning for our fourth year alongside experienced veterans. We are all more than excited for everyone to be back on our home turf together, preparing for the season. This summer, with the addition of so many promising freshmen, it was amazing to watch the teamwork and progress made in such a short time. The energy and enthusiasm of the younger girls mixed with the patience and experience brought by our returners will for sure make a perfect combination. With final four finishes the past three years, we are beyond ready to take the next step as a program. It’s been a long time coming, but I have never been so confident in the players’ hard work, drive, and commitment to taking it all the way this season.
— Souhegan Senior Midfielder Erin McCool

# 4

Lebanon

Head Coach: Amanda Valliere

Last Season: 10-5-1  (W-L-T), Final Four loss to Derryfield, 0-1.

Key Players Leaving: Forward Hannah Bunten, Forward Meredith Melendy, and Defender Corinne Kennedy.

Key Players Returning: Junior goalie Hope Brown, Senior forward Leah Mayes, and Senior defender Emily Hunnewell.

Biggest Strength: Defensive Unit. Goalie Hope Brown made 78 saves last season, which was tied for 8th in the state. NFHCA All Northern New England Region player Emily Hunnewell will help Brown keep teams' offenses at bay.

Biggest Weakness: Coach Deb Beach. After 40 years at Lebanon Coach Beach will be stepping down. She led Lebanon to 3 of the past 5 D2 State Titles. Losing her will surely be a factor, but replacing her will be one of her former players, Amanda Valliere, who certainly will have a test ahead of her trying to replace Beach, but she does have a great program to inherit.

Prediction: Final Four


# 3

Portsmouth

Head Coach: Sara Carpenter

Last Season: 10-5-0  (W-L-T), Quarterfinal OT loss to Lebanon, 0-1.

Key Players Leaving: Forward Haley Blodgett (team leader in assists)

Key Players Returning: Senior goalie Kayleigh Vogel, and Junior twin forwards Clara and Ellie Hunkins.

Key Incoming Freshmen: Anna Ricci and Emily Aucella

Biggest Strength: Goalkeeping. Even though the twins are very good, Vogel is the reason their goals and assists don't go to waste. Vogel was the best goalie in the state last year, making 128 saves. She constantly keeps Portsmouth in games, and without her Portsmouth's scores would be very different.

Biggest Weakness: Blodgett graduating. With her being able to assist the twins all last season, without her passing ability, Portsmouth's scoring power could be toned down compared to last year.

Prediction: Final Four


# 2

Derryfield

Head Coach: Lenny McCaigue

Last Season: 15-2-0  (W-L-T), Runner-Up

Key Players Leaving: Forward Tyler Crews, Defender Cecelia Templeton, and Defender Annalisa Groves.

Key Players Returning: Junior forward Tori Sipes and Sophomore midfielder Lindsey Stagg.

Biggest Strength: Lindsey Stagg. D2 Player of the Year and state leader in assists. Stagg can do everything you need from a midfielder; she can defend, move the ball incredibly well, and score goals.

Biggest Weakness: Graduating 13 seniors. Derryfield graduated one of the largest classes in the state, including its entire defense except one. And that could be a huge problem for Derryfield. Also, with the 13 seniors graduated there's a good chance everything will run through Stagg, and if teams can take her out of games, Derryfield's ball movement will be significantly toned down, but the one good thing is defending Stagg is like trying to hold your breath for 10 minutes... Good luck with that!

Prediction: Runner-Up

I can’t wait for this season to begin. After losing 13 seniors and many of our starting line up we have had to work very hard this preseason. It is important that as a team we continue this effort. My goals for this season are to continue to grow as a team from week to week and to secure a spot in playoffs.
— Derryfield Sophomore Midfielder Lindsey Stagg

Dark Horse

Hanover

 

Head Coach: Jean Essex

Last Season: 6-9-0  (W-L-T), first round loss to Kennett, 0-1.

Key Players Leaving: Goalie Sophie Cardenali

Key Players Returning: Junior forward Diana Schwarz, Senior midfielder Hannah Curtis, and Sophomore midfielder Macy Curtis.

Biggest Strength:  Core returns. Schwarz, Hannah Curtis, and Macy Curtis were their best players last year. With their youth and ability to move the ball and score goals, Hanover's offense will be very threatening.

Biggest Weakness: Defense. Losing Cardenali to graduation is a big problem for Hanover. She finished with 109 saves last season, which was fourth most in the state, keeping Hanover in games. If Hanover can't find a replacement or a defense to cover for those saves, they could be playing the "Let's just try to outscore them" game, and not care if they give up goals.

Prediction: Quarterfinals


# 1

Windham

Head Coach: Katie Blair

Last Season: 15-2-0  (W-L-T), State Champions

Key Players Leaving:  Midfielder Emma Lindquist (team leader in assists), Forward Brianna Langlois (team leader in goals and points), and Defender Rachel Estes.

Key Players Returning: Junior defender Devon Hamilton, Junior midfielder Taryn Livingstone, and Sophomore forward Livi Manchester.

Key Incoming Freshman: Kate Blaisdell, Maddie O'Hare, Cameron Livingstone, and Alexandra Perkins

Biggest Strength: Freshmen Class. Windham's freshmen class is locked and loaded. They have two Futures' Championships' participants. They have midfielders, defenders, and players who can score. They have by far the best freshmen class coming into the state this year.

Biggest Weakness: Youth. Even with their incredible freshmen class, they are going to be very young, and that could play a role, playing the more experienced teams such as Lebanon and Portsmouth.

Prediction: State Champion

Click here to read Katie Blair's preseason interview.

I am so excited thinking about our upcoming season. It will be tough to lose the leadership and skills from the seniors that we had for last years championship run, but I am confident our returning upperclassmen will fill their shoes. Legendary middle school coach Marge Leahy prepped a large and skilled group of freshman to tryouts this year, and we are excited to play with them. Our goal as a team is the same as Coach Bourque-Blair and Pohlmeyer’s goal coming into the season, to make it to the final game and bring home another championship banner for our gym wall.

The personal goals I have include making the varsity team, earning quality time on the field, and putting the ball in the back of the net while being one of the hardest workers out there.

Teams will be geared up to play us; we will have to come out strong from the starting buzzer of the first game to the final buzzer of the last game.
— Windham Sophomore Forward Livi Manchester