Exeter’s Richard, Henry have goals in mind

Sep. 30—EXETER — Selfless, finishing ability and speed. Those are the qualities soccer coaches look for in a striker.

Exeter High School boys coach Dan Curran has two players like that.

After spending their first fall playing together as wingers last year, Blue Hawks senior Owen Richard and junior Sam Henry have become a prolific scoring duo this season.

“If you put them in the box and you deliver them a ball, they’re going to finish — no question,” Curran said after Exeter’s 1-0 win over visiting Winnacunnet last Friday. “And there’s been a couple games this year where a ball’s been played into Sam and he runs into the box and it’s almost one of those things where the goal is kind of the afterthought because you see it and you know he’s going to finish.

“They’re just tremendous goal scorers. They’re both very unselfish players … I think that’s important when you have a two-striker pair. You need to have guys that can score but also want to see their partner score as well.”

Richard and Henry’s combination play secured Exeter (6-3-1) its NHIAA Division I triumph over rival Winnacunnet. Henry turned in the attacking third and fed a through ball to Richard, who then went out wide right before scoring on a low shot into the left corner of the Warriors’ net in the 66th minute.

The goal came against a stout Winnacunnet defense that often had five players on the back line.

“I just felt space so I just turned it and I saw Owen making that beautiful run so I just gave him the ball and he did the rest,” Henry said.

Henry said moving from the wing positions to playing up top together has made it easier for him and Richard to connect with each other and produce more goals.

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Richard scored in Exeter’s 2-0 triumph over Bishop Guertin of Nashua and its 2-1 loss to Hanover. Henry scored and Richard notched an assist in the Blue Hawks’ 3-0 victory over Pinkerton Academy.

“Sam’s a lefty and I’m a righty so we both like playing both sides and we like to kind of switch back and forth, go run back and forth, play off each other and that’s how we get through,” Richard said.

Richard and Henry’s production has helped the Blue Hawks outscore their opponents, 16-6. Henry said teammates Quinn Phillips and Jack Labroad help both feed him and Richard and also contain opponents in the midfield.

Richard credited Exeter senior goalkeeper Johnny Meyer for his excellent play this year that has helped the Blue Hawks shut out five of their last six opponents.

Meyer made a leaping save to deny Winnacunnet goalkeeper Tanyon Ziolkowski’s header try off a corner kick and then punched away the ensuing corner-kick cross into the penalty box in the final 30 seconds of regulation last Friday.

When the Blue Hawks are at their best, Curran said, they’re connecting on 10- 15-yard passes, working through the midfield, playing the ball wide and finding scorers like Richard and Henry.

“Make the field big, open it up for those skill guys through the middle and when we do that, we create a lot of opportunities,” Curran said.



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