Local soccer players adjust to new positions at Lions Twin State Cup

By BENJAMIN ROSENBERG

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 07-16-2023 8:58 AM

HANOVER — Shannon Hadlock was a center back for the White River Valley girls soccer team. It was as simple as that.

The senior anchored the Wildcats’ strong defense last fall, a unit that allowed just nine goals in 16 games. But on the Vermont team for the Lions Twin State Cup on Saturday at Hanover High that featured the best players from across the state, Hadlock was moved to right back.

She could be heard telling her coaches to remind her to stay on the outside rather than drift toward the more familiar middle of the field.

“It wasn’t really a tough adjustment,” Hadlock said. “It was just a friendly reminder. I played center back all four years, and I’m so comfortable in that position. When you have a team full of girls who have never played with each other, barely know each other’s names, the coaches have to work with what they have. I’m so used to stepping into the inside.”

Such is the reality of being on an all-star team, where just about every player is accustomed to playing a leading role. The Lions Cup teams each had just one practice together before game day, so the coaches did not have much time to figure out who fit best where.

Mary Rainey played midfield at Lebanon, but she was also the Raiders’ top scoring threat, leading her team in 2022 with nine goals and five assists, and she was recruited to Bowdoin College as an attacking player. On Saturday, though, Rainey started on defense and performed well there, helping the New Hampshire girls to a 5-2 win.

“It was definitely a shock when (the coaches) told me (outside back) would be my best position today, but I’ll do whatever a coach tells me to do,” Rainey said. “I still tried to play my best, and I still had opportunities to get up the field.”

Each team had four coaches from schools around their respective states, and the coaches had met several times before the teams came together to discuss potential lineups. Hadlock’s head coach at White River Valley, Kim Prestridge, was on the Lions Cup staff for the first time as an assistant and said finding everyone’s best fit was a challenge.

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“It’s absolutely difficult. But they really do come with a large amount of talent and energy,” Prestridge said. “Interestingly enough, we felt that this year they were very interchangeable. It’s like the first game of your season, and then the season’s over in the same game.”

All five of New Hampshire’s goals were scored by the Keogh twins from Timberlane — both of whom will play NCAA Division I soccer at Merrimack College — with Isabella netting three and Sophia scoring twice. Stevens standout Stella Lavertue, a Colby-Sawyer College signee, picked up an assist.

The New Hampshire boys were also victorious, 3-2, for the Granite State’s first Lions Cup win on the boys’ side since 2016. Hanover goalkeeper Ty Nolon played the second half in net and nearly kept his sheet clean until allowing a fluky goal inside of two minutes remaining. Like Hadlock, Lebanon’s Francis Calandrella was moved from center back to the outside and found it slightly disconcerting.

“The coaches are trying to do their best to get everybody in,” Calandrella said. “It was a little weird to get a different view of the field from the outside, but it’s a different way of thinking and a nice way to expand your game as a player.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.