The Littleton senior boys are ready to start the new soccer season. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
September 24, 2020LITTLETON — After months with no sports, the boys on the Littleton soccer team are ready to roll on a new season.
Though, like for everyone, it will certainly be an unusual season.
"I am excited for this group to have the opportunity to play and compete this year," said coach Luke Driscoll. "Most of these boys have gone since February or March without sports-related activities.
"This group is very active within our community and most play two or three sports, so they seem to be enjoying the fact they have this opportunity to be student-athletes again and are willing to do anything it takes to get on the field and keep this season going," Driscoll continued.
The Crusaders will have a unique dynamic on this year's team, as it is mostly seniors and freshmen.
"I do like this senior group of boys, as they work very hard and many of them are natural leaders, which is showing the young guys the right way," Driscoll said. "Our defense looks to be strong and expected to lead us throughout the season if we can stay healthy.
"Offensively, we will be more of a score by committee, which can be difficult at times and I expect some growing pains," the Crusader coach said. "But, if we can develop throughout the season as a unit, hopefully this group can be peaking at the right time."
The Crusaders are lucky to be welcoming back probably one of the most experienced goaltenders in Division IV in Josh Finkle, who is returning for his third year starting in net. A second team All-State selection last season, Finkle commands the 18 very well according to his coach.
Senior Landon Bromley was a first team All-State selection last year and is the leader of the team's defense, a role Driscoll expects him to continue to grow into this year.
Parker Paradice was one of the team's leading goal scorers as a junior last year and can impact the game with his speed and athleticism.
Fellow senior Austin Marquis as an honorable mention All-State selection last year and will be critical both up front and in the midfield for the Crusaders.
Seniors Stephan Lucas and Issac Piette are expected to also help lead the defense while classmates Kyle Huyhn and Evan Piette will work in the midfield. Rounding out the 12 seniors are Cole Hadlock up front, Riley Johnson and Jean Carlos Flores on defense and Matt Kelly in the midfield.
The Crusaders have just two juniors and one sophomore on the roster. Junior Grady Millen is the team's utility player who can play any position, depending on need, while sophomore Juan Hernandez will play at forward and junior Mike Hampson is hoping to recover from a torn ACL suffered in last year's playoffs in order to get on the field.
There will be 10 new freshmen on this year's team and a few will have to step right in.
"We will be looking at them to develop throughout the season and contribute significant minutes as the season progresses along with developing much-needed depth," Driscoll said.
The Crusaders will be playing a regional schedule that includes teams from around the North Country. On the schedule are two games each with Profile, Lin-Wood and Lisbon and single games with Berlin, Pittsburg-Canaan, White Mountains Regional, Woodsville and Colebrook.
The Crusaders defeated Profile in their season opener (see separate story) and will be in action next on Friday, Sept. 25, at home against Lin-Wood at 3:30 p.m. On Monday, Sept. 28, the Crusaders will be at Pittsburg-Canaan for a 4 p.m. game.
Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.