Milford seeking return trip to volleyball final

The fun begins for high school girls volleyball players around the area as the state tournament gets underway in all three divisions.

The Milford Spartans, who are the fourth seed in Division II at 13-3, are again a favorite to reach the final four. However, there are seven teams in the tournament with double digits for wins, so it won’t be easy getting through the bracket for a return trip to the fi­nals.

The Spartans are a classic example of a good team led by a good player – last year’s Division II Player of the Year Ol­ivia Rougeau, who has had another fine season.

The Spartans will face No. 13 ConVal (6-10) in Thursday’s preliminary round and will guard against overconfidence having swept them 6-0 in sets over two matches.

They haven’t faced potential quarter­final foe, No. 5 Kingswood (12-4), nor po­tential semifinals opponent, top-seeded Gilford (16-0).

It would be interesting if they reached the finals and saw No. 3 Windham wait­ing for a 2014 title game rematch. Mil­ford lost 3-0 early in the season and then at home improved to take the Jaguars to five sets before bowing.

GIRLS SOCCER

Souhegan, which won it all two years ago, looks to contend in Division II after a 9-6-1 season – good for the eighth seed and a home game against No. 9 ConVal (9-7) on Thursday.

If the Sabers reach the quarters, they could see No. 1 Oyster River (15-1). They played the Bobcats tough in a 2-1 game early in the month.

No. 12 Milford (6-10) faced a long trip and a tough test at No. 5 Hanover (12-3- 1) on Thursday. They did not meet in the regular season.

BOYS SOCCER

It’s tournament time, with boys soccer fully underway Wednesday. And every­one knows what that means: Anything can happen.

Last year, the Souhegan High School boys soccer team rose up from the upper middle of the Division II seedings to win the whole thing. Could it happen again this year? Certainly.

The Sabers this year are seeded sev­enth at 8-4-3 have eight seniors, but will face some stiff competition to defend their title.

The Sabers were set to host No. 10 Pembroke (6-7-1) on Wednesday in a game that was not finished at presstime.

Pembroke is a team they handled

seemingly with ease a month ago in a 4-0 home win.

Nick Scavetta had two goals in that game while Will Facques, who was steady all year in goal for the Sabers, needed to make only four saves to earn the shutout. Should the Sabers advance, they will take on No. 2 Oyster River (12-2) in Sat­urday’s quarterfinals. One of the Bobcats’ two losses was 1-0 to – you guessed it – Souhegan.

It was a learning year for the ar­ea’s only other Division II tourney team, Hollis Brookline (3-10-3). The Cavs struggled a year after falling in last year’s semis, and at No. 15 will have to travel to face No. 2 Lebanon (13-2-1). But, if you follow that old adage that it’s tough to beat a team three times in a season, then the Cavs have a shot. They lost 1-0 and 2-0 to Lebanon earlier this season.

The semifinals will be at Exeter’s Bill Ball Stadium next Wednesday, with the finals at Southern New Hampshire University a week from Saturday at 4:30 p.m.