2017-07-17 / Sports

Vermont roars loudest in Lions Cup action

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By CHRISTOPHER SHABAN
Eagle Times correspondent

HENNIKER, N.H. — The Green Mountain State grabbed bragging rights Saturday as the best of the best high school soccer players from Vermont and New Hampshire faced off in the 43rd annual NH-VT Lions All Star Games at New England College.

The Vermont squad started the day with a 5-0 win over the Granite State girls while the Vermont boys raced out a a lead and never let go, downing their N.H. counterparts 5-2 to close out the final games of the players' high school careers.

Over $580,000 has been raised by the Lions Club to support the Green Mountain Lions camp for hearing-impaired children and the Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation of N.H., along with many other charities.

Sunapee standout Jessica Parsons started at left back and played very well despite the continuous pressure from the Vermont squad. Parsons squared up against Hartland’s Mallory Lloyd and managed to keep her far enough away from the goal to keep her quiet.

However, as the game opened up, Lloyd managed to find space and the back of the net twice as speed, and never-ending ball pressure was too much for the N.H. team to measure up against. Parsons was strong and was drifting to the middle of the field for support for much of her time in the game.

Lloyd, who was named a 2016 National Soccer Coaches Association of America Fall Girls High School All-New England Region Team last fall, was a 100-goal scorer for the Sharon Academy,

“What a great experience,” said Parsons, who will be headed to Clarkson University to study Environmental Engineering this fall. “We had great practices this week and we felt pretty confident heading into the game but the speed from Vermont kept us off our game all night and we just couldn’t find our tempo but thought as a team I thought we played very well.”

Joining Lloyd in the scoring column were Woodstock's Anna Dieffenback, and Amber Sicard and Brenna McMannon, both from Colchester. Aine Kennedy of Middlesex, Cameron Peyko of Grand Isle each had assists.

On the boys side, Ethan Riddell of Harwood scored a hat trick for Vermont and his first two goals put the Vermonters up 2-0 at the half.

New Hampshire’s physical play didn’t slow the tempo enough to prevent Vermont from building its lead in the second half to 3-0 before Jake Acker of Hanover put N.H..

That would be as close as it would get as Vermont scored twice more before John Stark’s Isaiah Lovering closed out the scoring on the day to make the final score 5-2 in favor of Vermont.

Green Mountain’s Mack Walton knew a few of the N.H. players from his time playing with the Lightning team but he was impressed with his fellow teammates from up North.

“I knew there were some really good players from northern Vermont, but I had no idea until I started practicing with them this week,” he said. Walton played the front line and had plenty of touches and some slick passes on the day.

“I had a great time and this game is something I’m going to remember the rest of my life,” added Walton, who will head to Clarkson University in a few weeks.

Two Stevens players were chosen to participate as Ethan Sweet and Logan Bonneau stepped on the field.

Sweet took his familiar offensive position and his power, and strength was tested as the lightning-quick Vermont squad swarmed to him each time he touched the ball. He had a few nice runs on net and he considered this game a tremendous honor.

"What a great group of players, every touch matters and you just can't make any mistakes with the talent on the field today," said Sweet. "The physical play and quickness is something you prepare for, but it is eye-opening playing against all these great players here today."

Sweet will continue his soccer career at Mt. Ida while studying for an Environmental degree.

Bonneau was selected to the team as an alternate and went to camp just trying to do his best, according to his dad, Kevin. He didn't just do well in camp — he earned a spot on the team — but impressed the coaches so much that he became a starter on defense.

The Lions Cup was an opportunity to follow in his parents footsteps. Kevin was a member of the 1987 Lions team while his mother, Vicki, played on the 1994 squad.

From his left back position the younger Bonneau found action right away as Vermont's aggressive tactics carried play from the opening whistle.

Bonneau was honored to have an opportunity to play in the game and said he owes his accomplishments to his family.

"I wouldn't be here today without them and I hope my sister can experience this in a couple of years," he said.

Joining Riddell in the scoring was Aidan Whitney of Essex with a goal and an assist, plus an own goal for Vermont. Jacob Godfrey of Castleton added an assist also for Vermont.

Scott Sweet, Ethan Sweet's dad, said, "It's like a big soccer family and I'm really going to miss going to games."

The pride didn't end with the Sweets, but continued with Logan's mom, Vicki.

"I am so proud of his hard work and that he had the opportunity to play in this game; it's all because of years of his effort and determination."

Next year's games will move back to Vermont to be played at Castleton University.

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