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Bow, Belmont boys’ soccer teams earn trips to Division III final

  • Bow players celebrate after scoring a goal to tie the game during the division 3 boys' semi-final against Hopkinton on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Bow defeated Hopkinton during a penalty kick in overtime 2-1. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Bow players celebrate after scoring a goal to tie the game during the division 3 boys' semi-final against Hopkinton on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Bow defeated Hopkinton during a penalty kick in overtime 2-1.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Belmont's Tom Kuntz celebrates after scoring a goal during the division 3 boys' semi-finals game against Fall Mountain on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Belmont defeated Fall Mountain 4-0. <br/><br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Belmont's Tom Kuntz celebrates after scoring a goal during the division 3 boys' semi-finals game against Fall Mountain on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Belmont defeated Fall Mountain 4-0.


    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Hopkinton's Doug Fleury battles for the ball with Bow's Colby Desmarais during the division 3 boys' semi-finals game between the schools on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Hopkinton's Doug Fleury battles for the ball with Bow's Colby Desmarais during the division 3 boys' semi-finals game between the schools on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Belmont's Pedro Perez battles for the ball against Fall Mountain's Ryan Herman during the division 3 boys' semi-finals game between the schools on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Belmont defeated Fall Mountain 4-0. <br/><br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Belmont's Pedro Perez battles for the ball against Fall Mountain's Ryan Herman during the division 3 boys' semi-finals game between the schools on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Belmont defeated Fall Mountain 4-0.


    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Bow's Colby Desmarais helps up Hopkinton's Steven Auger following  the division 3 boys' semi-finals game between the schools on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Bow defeated Hopkinton during a penalty kick in overtime 2-1. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Bow's Colby Desmarais helps up Hopkinton's Steven Auger following the division 3 boys' semi-finals game between the schools on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Bow defeated Hopkinton during a penalty kick in overtime 2-1.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Bow players celebrate after scoring a goal to tie the game during the division 3 boys' semi-final against Hopkinton on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Bow defeated Hopkinton during a penalty kick in overtime 2-1. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Belmont's Tom Kuntz celebrates after scoring a goal during the division 3 boys' semi-finals game against Fall Mountain on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Belmont defeated Fall Mountain 4-0. <br/><br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Hopkinton's Doug Fleury battles for the ball with Bow's Colby Desmarais during the division 3 boys' semi-finals game between the schools on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Belmont's Pedro Perez battles for the ball against Fall Mountain's Ryan Herman during the division 3 boys' semi-finals game between the schools on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Belmont defeated Fall Mountain 4-0. <br/><br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Bow's Colby Desmarais helps up Hopkinton's Steven Auger following  the division 3 boys' semi-finals game between the schools on November 1, 2012 at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter. Bow defeated Hopkinton during a penalty kick in overtime 2-1. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

EXETER – The Bow High boys’ soccer team had just won a trip to the Division III final. And Falcons Coach George Pinkham and forward Dan Crisman couldn’t feel worse about it.

The win was great, they said. The way it went about happening wasn’t. All game long, for over 80 minutes, the Hawks and Falcons battled, back and forth, trading chances. Then, due to a controversial handball call in overtime, the game came down to a penalty kick and Crisman’s right foot.

The senior missed the kick. He didn’t miss the follow-up. Bow had itself a 2-1 win, one as difficult to enjoy as a victory can be.

“We won the game, we’re happy to win the game, but I hate to see any game end with penalty kicks,” Pinkham said. “I hate that. I hate to end a game that way.”

The win moved No. 3 Bow to 17-2 and sent it to the championship game against No. 1 Belmont, while the No. 2 Hawks saw their season end with the same record.

“I thought, pretty obviously, my guys scored more goals than the other team today,” Hopkinton Coach Scott Zipke said. “The only reason that they don’t declare us the victors is, I don’t know why.”

Zipke was referring to both the final play of overtime and of regulation, as the Hawks appeared to win in stoppage time when Riley McNicholas’s free kick from the left side sailed unimpeded into the net. Officials quickly ruled no goal, however, and after the game, Zipke still wasn’t sure why.

“We stopped the clock, so we had the free kick, we put the free kick into the goal, goal,” he said. “And for whatever reason, the referee said ‘No, not a goal.’ ”

The game was decided nearly 16 minutes later. Crisman brought the ball up and found Corey Plumb near the left side of the net, and the junior forward flicked the ball in the direction of the goal. The officials called a handball on Hopkinton with 4:05 left, and Pinkham, who said he never got a good look at the play, sent Crisman, a senior and the team’s top scorer, to win it for the Falcons.

Crisman fired the shot and Hopkinton keeper Robby Ferguson was there for the save, but the rebound bounced straight back to Crisman, who was true on the second chance to end the game and set off a celebration near the sideline.

“With penalty kicks, I tell the guys, in high school soccer, don’t be cute. Just slam the hell out of it and make the keeper save it,” Pinkham said. “The keeper saved it, but it was hit so hard, he couldn’t control the rebound.”

It was Crisman’s second goal of the game, but the forward’s joy was tempered with guilt.

“I feel bad that’s the way their season ended. I would be devastated if my season ended on a PK,” he said. “I took it as hard as I could, props to that goalie, who’s the best goalie I’ve seen all season. He made the save, so I just had to keep my head in and kick it in.”

Hopkinton dominated the offensive chances during a scoreless first half, and transferred that advantage to the scoreboard when Steven Auger scored from 12 yards out off of a feed from McNicholas with 33:19 to go.

“We played tremendous today,” Zipke said. “The goal that they did count, that play, bang-bang-bang, Steven has that rocket. Tremendous.”

Hopkinton continued to own possession in the second half, but Bow was able to convert on an opportunity in the 61st minute. Chris Ketcham gained possession in the Falcons end and sent a long clear down the other way. Crisman was able to corral the pass, and he eluded the remaining Hawks defenders and skipped a shot past a lunging Ferguson to tie the game with 19:32 left.

That set up the drama of the game’s final minutes, which ultimately ended with Bow sealing its third straight trip to the championship game. It’s an impressive feat, but there was a bittersweet nature to it that even the victors couldn’t shrug off.

“Overtime game, 1-1, state semifinal, you’ve got to be right on when you call a penalty kick,” Pinkham said. “I’m happy we get to play in the championship again, but I feel for them, too.”

BELMONT 4,
FALL MOUNTAIN 0

His team was on an 18-game winning streak, but Mike Foley wasn’t going to miss a chance for added motivation.

The Belmont boys’ soccer coach brought his team to Inter-Lakes High for practice Wednesday, but he had some perspective in store for the Red Raiders as well. His team was about to play its Division III semifinal, but Foley wanted to make sure the players had a broader focus than one game.

“We kind of took a moment after practice to lie down and just kind of relax, and capture this moment,” he said.

The exercise worked. The Red Raiders looked exactly like an unbeaten No. 1 seed yesterday, scoring a pair of goals in the first 15 minutes en route to putting together their most complete effort of the tournament and sealing a trip to the final.

“Outstanding all the way around,” Foley said. “You couldn’t ask for a better effort defensively. ... We just didn’t bite. We didn’t bite on anything. That’s really the nature of the game.”

The defense stymied any type of offense the Wildcats (15-4) tried to build, but it was the offense that helped the Red Raiders (19-0) seize control right away. Two of their first shots found the back of the net, as Ashton Singh scored at 34:57 and Pedro Perez made it 2-0 with 25:52 to go in the first half.

“We said all season long, if we put the ball in early and get the right guys going, it’s, I don’t want to say lights out, but it’s kind of in that direction,” Foley said.

The Red Raiders had trouble finding the net in a 1-0 quarterfinal win over Prospect Mountain, but those problems were long gone on the Bill Ball Stadium turf. Tom Kuntz fired in a shot off of a deflection from 15 yards out with 20:02 left, and Perez scored his second goal on a header with 14:47 left to make it 4-0.

“Coach was saying once we get that first goal, it’s just really hard to beat us,” Perez said. “I feel that the first goal that we scored, early, was crucial because it just picked everyone up.”

Foley said it wasn’t a coincidence to see the senior forward in the middle of a productive offensive evening.

“Pedro’s a spark plug,” Foley said. “You get him going, you get him fired up, it’s just beautiful.”

The four goals were plenty of support for the Red Raiders, as a defense that’s notched 12 shutouts and allowed a goal or less in all but one game was clicking from the start. With Bret Spaulding, Austin Haddock and Aaron Mclelland leading the way, Belmont kept scoring chances from developing until the second half. Fall Mountain didn’t even have a corner kick until the 57th minute.

“You just can’t say enough about the defensive backs,” Foley said. “Brett, Aaron and Austin were huge, just huge.”

The Red Raiders appeared to be on a collision path with the championship game all season long, and now that they’re there, they’ll face a team they’re all too familiar with. Bow, after all, knocked off Belmont in last year’s semifinals en route to a perfect season and state championship.

Now, Foley said it’s time to return the favor.

“We get that opportunity at redemption, if you will,” he said. “We’re playing for bigger stakes on Sunday, and we couldn’t be happier to draw them.”

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