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Littleton prefers reloading to rebuilding

Littleton’s Ali Horne, right, tries to get past Gorham’s Maggie Currier last Friday at Norton Pike field in Littleton. Horne scored the game winner in Littleton’s 3-2 win over Gorham. Charlie Lentz/The Littleton Courier. (click for larger version)
September 12, 2012
LITTLETON — Coach Kory Pinard could only shake his head and smile when questions arose about the scoring prowess of this year's version of Littleton High girls soccer. After losing Julia Winn to graduation along with the 42 goals she netted during her senior year — there were the usual sideline experts who questioned where the offense would come from this season.

"Everybody's like 'Ah, you don't have Julia. You're not going to be able to score next year,' " Pinard said. "But look how many goals we've scored this year."

The offensive question marks have been answered in bunches — 17 goals over the Crusaders first three victories including three goals in Littleton's 3-2 victory over Gorham last Friday at Norton Pike field.

New season. Same story.

"You do what works. We have all these kids for three and four years," Pinard said. "They know what we expect out of them."

Freshman forward Ali Horne scored a pair of goals against Gorham and broke a 2-2 deadlock with the game-winning goal with 5:40 left in the match to help the Crusaders lift their record to 3-0. Horne scored five goals in her first three varsity games. Her offensive production is no surprise to coach Pinard.

"You wait, she's just like any other top player that we've ever had. They start as a freshman and they come up through," Pinard said. "She knows how to read the game. She knows where to be. She knows that if the ball's on the opposite side she needs to crash the goal. She does what she's supposed to be doing. And you don't really need to say a whole lot to her. She's kind of a little bit of a natural. When she gets in front of the goal and the opportunity is there for her to score she's been doing very well and putting it in the goal."

Horne's game winner against Gorham came on a gorgeous shot from 15 yards out on the right wing. She shot left-footed and tucked the ball into the upper left corner over Gorham keeper Cassandra Poulin. Horne said she just wanted to stay calm with the game on the line.

"To not get nervous and just let if fly," Horne said.

The Crusaders lost five starters from last year's team to graduation — the core of a group that reached two Division IV state championship games over the previous three seasons. Horne is part of an influx of underclassmen — including freshmen Cierra Favreau and Libby McNamara — and she has thrived thus far.

"We're trying to help out as best as we can," Horne said.

Littleton opened the scoring at 6:17 of the match on junior forward Maggie Hadlock's goal with an assist from senior Dori Horne. The Crusaders stretched their margin to 2-0 on Ali Horne's first goal at 14:00 of the first half with an assist from Hadlock.

Gorham's Lily Keenan tallied at 18:07 of the first half to pull the Huskies within one goal and Keenan scored again at 26:55 of the opening stanza to tie it at 2-2.

Littleton led 16-7 in shots and 2-0 in corner kicks. Crusaders goalkeeper Jordan Odell made three saves for Littleton. Poulin stopped 10 shots for the Huskies.

Ali Horne is a product of Littleton's youth soccer program and just one reason why the Crusaders are reloading this season rather than rebuilding.

"It's a wonderful thing," Pinard said. "There's not that many towns that have that feeder program."

Littleton 6, Pitt/Canaan 2

CANAAN, Vt. — Maggie Hadlock and Dori Horne both scored a pair of goals to lead the Crusaders past Pittsburg/Canaan 6-2 on Sept. 5. Ali Horne and Sydney Pinard each notched one goal for the Crusaders.

Littleton 8, Groveton 2

LITTLETON — Sydney Pinard, Dori Horne, Maggie Hadlock and Ali Horne each scored two goals to help Littleton defeat Groveton 8-2 on Aug. 31 in the Crusaders home opener at Norton Pike field.

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