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TOURNAMENT TRAIL BEGINS

Fasten your seatbelts, we’ve hit the local high school tourney trail in full swing, and one game this week certainly stands out.

In Division II boys soccer, No. 4 Milford gets a bye (8-4-3) while No. 7 Hollis Brookline (10-5-1) hosts No. 10 Plymouth (7-8-1).

In Division IV, Wilton-Lyndeborough, at No. 5 (11-5) hosts No. 12 Lin-Wood (7-7-2).

Thursday, other girls soccer tourneys and volleyball get under way.

In the Division II, No. 2 Hollis Brookline (13-1-2) has a first round bye while last year’s runnerup, No. 4 Milford (12-3-1) hosts No. 13 Plymouth (5-10-1) on Thursday. Also, the runnerup two years ago, No. 7 Souhegan (9-6-1) will host No. 10 Merrimack Valley (8-7-1). Also on Thursday, in Division IV, No. 10 Wilton-Lyndeborough (10-6) at No. 7 Concord Christian (10-5).

The girls volleyball tournaments also get underway with both local teams competing.

In Division II, No. 2 Milford (14-2) gets a first round bye, while Thursday No. 9 Souhegan (7-9) is at No. 8 Laconia (7-9).

Volleyball quarterfinals are Saturday, as are the boys soccer. Girls soccer quarters are Sunday, with the exception of Division III, which are Friday.

Would anyone have picked the Milford boys team, which has struggled in past years, to be the local team with a first round bye? The Spartans have had a great fall under new coach Olf Omouyaka. His Spartans won nine games and are off until Saturday when they face the winner of Thursday’s No. 5 Bow vs. No. 12 Stevens prelim – neither of whom they faced.

Meanwhile, the No. 7 Cavaliers might have been that bye guess. They started the season with a tough slate but ended it with a five-game winning streak, led by goalie Ryan Coutu and striker J.J. Kennedy, with players like Max Burns and Andy Basque in between. Should they keep their streak going, the Cavs then would have a long trip Saturday in the quarters at No. 2 Lebanon (14-2), whom they lost to 3-2 during that tough start. Could be an interesting rematch and as Cavs coach Steve Martus said, “Now I feel we have a chance for the championship.”

Wilton-Lyndeborough had a good season in winning 11 games, but ended it with a three-game losing streak against the division’s iron. If they win their opener as expected, they would likely face one of those teams that beat them (4-1 just a couple of weeks ago) in No. 4 Littleton.

Division II girls is this is the most loaded, it seems, of any of the boys or girls divisions. Talent galore, including Hollis Brookline, which survived an early season injury to key forward Tasha White, saw her return, and have taken off, not having lost since Sept. 16.

“We’ve had an interesting year,” Cavs coach Peter Clarke said, “with so many key players missing multiple games with injuries. But, it’s made us better with the performance of players who have steppedin or assumed new roles. … It’s a division where most of the tourney teams can stand strong on a given day.”

If the Cavs win, they could face local rival Souhegan, which has won six of eight but lost to the Cavs twice, 2-0 and 1-0. You know the old saying how tough it is to beat a team three times.

The Spartans, last year’s runnerup, has a lot of the young nucleus its nurtured for the last couple of years come of age. The challenge may come if the Spartans can get to the semis, where No. 1 Hanover could be waiting. Yes, the Hanover team that beat them in penalty kicks in last year’s finals.

The Warriors in Division IV started out the season blowing away the opposition, then the tougher schedule caught up with them and they’re on the road for the first round. But they beat their prelim opponent, Concord Christian, twice, 4-2 and 6-4. Ah, the old three times question. But it’s a tough draw, because waiting in the quarters would be Newmarket, who beat WLC twice – but by a 14-2 combined margin.

Can the Spartan girls volleyballers get another shot at 16-0 Gilford, which beat them in the finals last year? It lines up that way, and Milford has a solid core of 9 players led by senior Gabby Monico.

“I think there’s nothing more this team wants,” first-year coach Mia Malafronte said, “but we have to stay focused and take this tournament one game at a time.” John Stark, whom the Spartans beat 3-0 in the regular season, looms as a semifinal hurdle.

DIVISION II BOYS SOCCER

PRELIMINARY ROUND

No. 12 Stevens (7-9) at No. 5 Bow (9-4-3)

No. 11 Kearsarge (6-8-2) at No. 6 Merrimack Valley (10-5-1)

No. 10 Plymouth (7-8-1) at No. 7 Hollis Brookline (10-5-1)

No. 9 Manchester West (9-7) at No. 8 Coe-Brown (9-6-1)

QUARTERFINALS

Saturday, Nov. 2

All times 2 p.m. unless noted

Coe-Brown/West at No. 1 ConVal (13-1-2)

Plymouth/Hollis Brookline at No. 2 Lebanon (14-2)

Kearsarge/Merrimack Valley at No. 3 Oyster River (11-2-3)

Bow/Stevens at No. 4 Milford (9-4-3)

SEMIFINALS

Wednesday, Nov. 6

At Exeter’s Bill Ball Stadium, 4 and 6:15 p.m.

FINALS

Saturday, Nov. 9

At Manchester Memorial, 4 p.m.

DIVISION IV BOYS SOCCER

PRELININARY ROUND

(No. 1 Newfound, 15-1, has bye)

No. 15 Gorham (6-8-2) at No. 2 Woodsville (15-1)

No. 14 Lisbon (7-8-1) at No. 3 Sunapee (14-2)

No. 13 Farmington (8-8) at No. 4 Littleton (12-2-2)

No. 12 Lin-Wood (7-7-2) at No. 5 Wilton-Lyndeborough (11-5)

No. 11 Portsmouth Christian (8-6-2) at No. 6 Moultonborough (10-5-1)

No. 10 Pittsfield (8-6-2) at No. 7 Colebrook (10-5-1)

No. 9 Concord Christian (10-5-1) at No. 8 Profile (10-5-1)

QUARTERFINALS

Saturday, Nov. 2

At home of higher seed, 2 p.m.

SEMIFINALS

Tuesday, Nov. 5

At Bank of NH Stadium, 4 and 6:15 p.m.

FINALS

SUNDAY, NOV. 10

At Bank of NH Stadium, 4:15 p.m.

DIVISION II GIRLS SOCCER

PRELIMINARY ROUND

Thursday, Oct. 31

(No. 1 Hanover, 15-0; No. 2 Hollis Brookline 13-1-2 and No. 3 Bow 13-1-2 have byes)

All times 3 p.m. unless noted

No. 13 Plymouth (5-10-1) at No. 4 Milford (12-3-1)

No. 12 Coe-Brown (6-10) at No. 5 Pembroke (12-4)

No. 11 Kearsarge (8-7-1) at No. 6 Oyster River (9-6-1)

No. 10 Merrimack Valley (8-7-1) at No. 7 Souhegan (9-6-1)

No. 9 ConVal (8-7-1) at No. 8 John Stark (9-6-1)

QUARTERFINALS

Sunday, Nov. 3

At home of higher seed, 3 p.m.

SEMINFINALS

Thursday, Nov. 7

At Exeter’s Bill Ball Stadium, 4 and 6:15 p.m.

FINALS

Sunday, Nov. 10

At Manchester Memorial, 1 p.m.

DIVISION IV GIRLS SOCCER

PRELIMINARY ROUND

Thursday, Oct. 31

(No. 1 Sunapee, 15-1 and No. 2 Newmarket, 15-1, have byes)

All times 3 p.m. unless noted

No. 14 Mount Royal (5-11) at No. 3 Woodsville (14-1-1)

No. 13 Lisbon (5-11) at No. 4 Littleton (12-3-1)

No. 12 Colebrook (7-8-1) at No. 5 Portsmouth Christian (12-4)

No. 11(7-7-2) Gorham at No. 6 Moultonborough (11-5)

No. 10 Wilton-Lyndeborough (10-6) at No. 7 Concord Christian (10-5)

No. 9 Profile (10-6) at No. 8 Pittsburg-Canaan (10-5-1)

QUARTERFINALS

Sunday, Nov. 3

At home of higher seed, 2 p.m.

SEMIFINALS

Thursday, Nov. 7

At Bank of NH Stadium, 4 and 6:15 p.m.

FINALS

Sunday, Nov. 10

At Bank of NH Stadium, 11:45 a.m.

DIVISION II

VOLLEYBALL

FIRST ROUND

THURSDAY, 6 P.M.

No. 9 Souhegan (7-9) at No. 8 Laconia (7-9); No. 10 Kingswood (7-9) at No. 7 Saint Thomas (9-7)

QUARTERFINALS

SATURDAY, 6 P.M.

Souhegan-Laconia winner at No. 1 Gilford (16-0); No. 5 Plymouth (12-4) at No. 4 Oyster River (13-3); Saint Thomas-Kingswood winner at No. 2 Milford (14-2); No. 6 Coe-Brown (11-5) at No. 3 John Stark (13-3)

SEMIFINALS

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 6

At Pinkerton Academy, 5 and 7 p.m.

CHAMPIONSHIP

SATURDAY, NOV. 9

At Pinkerton Academy, 5 p.m.

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