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Veteran Eagles ready for fresh start

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Senior midfielder Keaton Quigley will help run the show in the heart of the Gilford lineup this fall. File Photo. (click for larger version)
August 25, 2014
GILFORD After winning 13 games in the regular season last fall, the Gilford High School boys' soccer team seemed primed to make a big postseason run. The pedigree has always been there for the Golden Eagles program, and with a defensive unit improving each and every time out late in the season, the tournament's third-seeded club was considered one of the favorites.

But on a rain-soaked afternoon at GHS, the postseason run ended just about as soon as it began in the opening game. Visiting Sanborn, the 14th-seeded side in the D-III draw, pulled a shocking 1-0 upset on the road, sending the Eagles home for the offseason with a 13-3-1 final record.

"We had a number of great scoring opportunities but we never capitalized on them," admitted Gilford coach Dave Pinkham after the loss. "(Sanborn) had speed and they were always very defensively conscious. But still, that didn't stop us from creating opportunities. We just didn't finish plain and simple."

While the Eagles now turn the page in looking to put that disappointing loss far behind them, the early postseason exit will likely serve as some fuel when the 2014 campaign kicks off Friday afternoon with a home game against Somersworth (4 p.m.).

"We definitely don't want to get knocked out in the first round again," explained senior midfielder Keaton Quigley, one of a host of returning starters back for Gilford. "Our goal is to just come back stronger this year and prove to everyone that we're a competitive team that can make it far."

Junior defender Bryce Workman, who will likely be the team's anchor as one of the center backs in the middle of a flat-four alignment this fall, admits that loss to Sanborn only adds to the fire for this upcoming fall.

"I've definitely thought about (the loss)," he said. "We should have played harder looking back at it. But now we can only focus on this season and what's ahead. The desire to win has gone up."

What's ahead will be filling the holes vacated by the team's two graduated starters. Forward Dan Dormody led the Eagles in scoring up front last season, while midfielder Chris Medlin was a fixture throughout the lineup during his career in blue and white. While the losses will hurt, the fact that there are plenty of varsity returners will help ease the transition.

"Since we only lost two starters, the chemistry won't have to change dramatically," said Quigley. "We have some new freshmen that will come in right away and contribute as well."

For the team's senior class, the time is now. The Eagles haven't been to a Final Four since 2011, an eternity for a program that has such a rich tradition of winning.

"This is our last chance to show what we can do," said senior Brad Bergman. "I think our defense will lead the way this year it's very strong and we have a lot of experience back there. And overall our skill level has gone up."

The senior class is loaded in addition to Quigley and Bergman, with returning varsity players in Kaleb Orton, Colin Hildreth, Nick Van Bennekum, Cam Haradon, Eamon Aldridge and Nolan Dwyer amongst the group of experienced upperclassmen. Sophomore goalkeeper Logan Essaff saw some varsity time as a freshman last year alongside Dwyer between the pipes.

After the home opener, the Eagles will play a pair of Lakes Region foes in Winnisquam (Sept. 2) and Inter-Lakes (Sept. 5). One of the biggest challenges on the docket will surely come on Sept. 16, when Gilford travels to play perennial power Bow.

The coaching staff of Hermann Defregger and Tyler Davis returns once again for Pinkham, with Defregger guiding a massive JV squad thanks to huge numbers out for the program this fall and Davis assisting Pinkham with the varsity club.

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