Scott, Syed nab All-State accolades

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Belmont senior Jasmine Syed stepped into the spotlight this season and was rewarded with a First Team All-State selection in Division III. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
November 28, 2016
REGION There were story lines all over the place in the girls' soccer world this fall. Chief among them was the ride experienced by Belmont High School. The Red Raiders broke through to reach an elusive Final Four, knocking off heavyweights Hopkinton and Campbell along the way to reach the state championship game in Division III. A 1-0 loss to top-seeded and undefeated Fall Mountain did little to deter an outstanding season, as Belmont thrived late in the season under new head coach Cevat Vural's system with a dynamic group of seniors setting the tone on and off the field.

There were other big stories throughout the Lakes Region however. Inter-Lakes qualified for the postseason thanks to huge contributions from a talented and deep freshman class, while Gilford's junior class showed signs that they may be able to do the same next season. Moultonborough Academy showed its ability to play with just about anyone in Division IV, but key injuries down the stretch thwarted the Panthers in their pursuit of a deep postseason run.

The New Hampshire Soccer Coaches Association (NHSCA) rewarded a solid contingent of Lakes Region players with All-State selections when it released its awards last week.

The Division III list was headlined by a pair of Belmont seniors who had huge hands in guiding the Raiders to the state championship game. Midfielder Kelsey Scott was the team's security blanket throughout her career, and she showcased a flare for the dramatic in the state semifinals with a pair of goals in leading Belmont to a 2-0 win over Campbell. Scott earned a First Team All-State selection for her play, and her departure to graduation leaves a huge void in the midfield.

Fellow senior Jasmine Syed stepped into a vital role in the center of the Belmont defense this fall, and she, too, was named to the All-State First Team. The relentless defender took her role and ran with it this season. While the Raider defense was very young, comprised of two sophomores and a freshman, Syed provided the veteran experience and presence that tied it all together.

While Inter-Lakes did have a highly-valuable freshman class inject life into the lineup this fall, it was a senior defender that made it all work. Sweeper Kailee Bennett was the lynchpin of the I-L defense, and the four-year starter and captain capped her proud career with a Second Team All-State selection in Division III. Bennett was the vocal and physical leader for the Lakers, keeping the squad on the straight and narrow despite some inexperience at the varsity level. As a result, I-L earned a postseason berth and gave Raymond everything it could handle under the lights on the road in the opening round of the postseason.

While Gilford High School experienced some growing pains with a largely inexperienced roster that suffered key injuries at important times, the Golden Eagles relied on its deep junior class to right the ship. Right in the middle of that barge was junior midfielder Lauren Dean, who was the lone Gilford representative on the All-State teams with an Honorable Mention selection. No matter what happened to the Eagles this fall, Dean was always there as a reliable option in the middle of the field. She proved dangerous going forward as an attacker while also adept at winning 50-50 balls in the midfield and handling her defensive responsibilities coming back on the other end. Dean is a key reason why the Eagles have faith they'll be able to enter the playoff fray next season.

While Scott and Syed led the way for Belmont in the All-State rankings, the Raiders had two more players earn accolades. Senior goalkeeper Mariah Watson registered an impressive 11 shutouts this season in the Belmont net, and she took home an Honorable Mention selection for her good work. Sophomore forward Julianna Estremera pushed through some injury issues to make solid contributions this season, and she was rewarded with an Honorable Mention pick.

Belmont's Mark Dawalga was also honored by the NHSCA this fall. Dawalga took home JV Coach of the Year honors in Division III after balancing the duties with that side along with assistant coach of the varsity club. Hopkinton's Lauri Izzi was the D-III Coach of the Year.

Moultonborough was represented on the All-State lists by a pair of juniors this fall, showing the future remains bright for a Panthers club that has been a mainstay in the D-IV discussion the past few seasons. Midfielder Becky Velie was the top honoree for head coach Jeff Husmann's club, as the speedster was a First Team All-State pick in D-IV. Velie almost never came off the field for the Panthers, a feat all the more impressive considering her ability to patrol and dominate play in just about every portion of the pitch.

Teammate Taylor Colby, also a junior, provided a talented partner in crime for Velie. Perhaps the most dangerous scorer and playmaker for MA, Colby was on her way to a big season down the stretch before suffering an injury that limited her to just a few minutes of action in the postseason loss to Woodsville. Expect big things for the pair next season however, with senior leadership setting the tone for MA.

Newmarket's Andrew Dawson was tabbed as the D-IV Coach of the Year this season.

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