Same players, different team for Laconia boys' soccer

LACONIA – Although many of the faces on the Laconia High School boys' varsity soccer team are the same that made up last year's team, the players have taken it upon themselves to ensure that their 2013 season won't look like their 2012 outing, which ended with a first-round playoff exit.

The loss against Hopkington for during the tournament last year stung for the Sachems on the 2012 team. The sting lingered through the winter and spring, then morphed into motivation.

Starting over the summer, the boys took practicing into their own hands. Spending many afternoons at Leavitt Park, the players individually and collectively practiced and sharpened the skills that would be needed during the months to come. The prospect of a winning soccer team was the driving force that got many of the boys out of bed early in the morning to do personal conditioning on their own time.

Watching the boys take the field, one can see that their efforts have paid off. The team this year is made of up almost all familiar players, many of whom are seniors. Fans of the team have watched these seniors evolve and grow over the years, into talented athletes. Seniors on the team this year include Jake Sykes, Patrick Guyer, Edis Dizdarevic, Brady Caldwell, Eric Cheney and Jake Sullivan, as well as captains Aidan Dean and Kolby Fornier.

"I have enjoyed working with each of these guys during my time on the both the middle school soccer team and high school varsity soccer team," says senior, Dizdarevic. "Over the years we have not only become better athletes, but also a stronger more supportive team that is working hard to get the senior championship. I'm proud of our accomplishments and will miss them when this season comes to a close."

The fast and intense games of this year have proven exciting for coaches to coach and spectators to watch. In last week's game Dean was working hard on the field, passing and receiving the ball with apparent ease and confidence, even during moments of pressure from the opposing team.

Brayden Harriman, a junior, has also developed into a strong asset to the team, a player who will take charge of an oncoming ball in any way possible, often heading as many as he kicks. Fornier also has had many shining moments on the field, winning possession of the ball forcing scoring opportunities on multiple occasions.

Although it ended with a loss, a recent game against the perennially-powerful Gilford team illustrated the Sachems' new attitude. The match was intense, and as the second half was drawing to a close Laconia was looking at a 3-0 deficit. With two seconds to go, Dean scored, making the final score 3-1. Gilford might have earned the win, but the Sachems denied their opponents the satisfaction of a shut-out.

As a junior, goalie Panthavy Pradachith, has also claimed a spot as captain of the team. Pradachith has had two shut out games already and is convinced that the Sachems will be a team to reckon with this season.

"This year we're going to show that we are a different team," says Pradachith. "We are going to prove we have gotten strong and better. I have a feeling that this year will be a team to remember for our soccer team. But no matter what the outcome is, at the end of the season I will be happy I got to play soccer with my friends, my teammates, my brothers."

Currently, the team has a record of 3-2, significantly better than where the players found themselves this time last year. Redeeming themselves from a loss against Gilford, Laconia had a 6-0 win against Newfound last Friday. The team is scheduled to play Plymouth away this afternoon and will host Newfound again on September 23.