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Meet in the middle: UNH, Vermont men's soccer teams to play friendly at Hanover High

Mar. 1—One of the first opportunities for fans to get a glimpse of the new-look University of New Hampshire men's soccer team this spring will be at Hanover High School.

The Wildcats, with new coach Rich Weinrebe, will play a charity friendly against America East Conference rival Vermont on Saturday, April 6 at 2 p.m. at Hanover High.

There will be no admission charge. Instead, fans are encouraged to donate a canned good or nonperishable food item at the exhibition, which will benefit the Hanover Community Food Pantry.

Hanover represents a nice halfway point between UNH and UVM — about 99 miles from Durham and 96 miles from Burlington, Vermont.

"These are two really strong programs," 19th-year Hanover High boys soccer coach Rob Grabill said. "I mean, you could argue (they're) two of the very best in New England ... and it'll truly be a friendly."

UNH, led by former coach Marc Hubbard, finished No. 9 and Vermont, led by head coach Rob Dow, placed 14th in the final United Soccer Coaches poll last season.

Both teams reached the Round of 16 in the NCAA Division I tournament last fall.

The spark for the exhibition came when Dow reached out to Grabill and pitched the idea.

Grabill is an associate pastor at The Church of Christ at Dartmouth College, which runs the Hanover Community Food Pantry.

Grabill said the food pantry feeds about 80-90 people in the Upper Valley weekly.

Youth players from the Hanover-based Lightning Soccer Club will do an international walkout with the teams. Lightning Soccer Club players from New Hampshire will walk out with UNH and its players from Vermont will walk out alongside the Catamounts.

Lightning Soccer Club players will also play a six-on-six scrimmage at halftime.

Grabill encouraged all youth programs on both sides of the border to attend. Grabill's Hanover High boys players will work the event, which the coach said hopefully will become an annual occurrence each spring.

UNH has five spring exhibition games scheduled. The Wildcats opened with a friendly at UMass on Friday. Their next spring game is against Division II SNHU on Friday, March 29, at 7 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium.

ahall@unionleader.com