Hopkinton, Bow girls’ soccer teams roll in semis, set up rematch in final
Bow's Caitlyn Keenan, left, tries to steal the ball away from Raymond High School offense in the game between the schools at the Division III girls soccer semifinals on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at Merrimack Valley High School.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
From left, Hopkinton's Tess Masci and Sabrey Montore hug goalie Kasey Smith after their 5-1 victory over Campbell in the Division III girls soccer semifinal on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at Merrimack Valley High School.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
The rematch is set. After a pair of emphatic semifinal wins yesterday, Hopkinton and Bow will meet in the Division III girls’ soccer final for the second straight year and the fifth time overall.
Defending champion Hopkinton, the No. 3 seed, started things off with a 5-1 win over No. 7 Campbell in the first semifinal at Merrimack Valley High. Top-ranked and undefeated Bow (19-0) followed that with a 4-1 decision against No. 5 Raymond.
The Falcons were also undefeated (18-0-1) when they went into last year’s final, but lost, 1-0, on an overtime goal against Hopkinton, which was seeded seventh and pulled off three straight upsets to claim the title.
“We took a lot of deep breaths on the bus ride over here,” Bow senior Sarah Carlson said. “We just didn’t want to lose because we wanted to finish last year’s business.”
In order to do that, the Falcons will have to beat a Hopkinton team that’s once again peaking at the right time. The Hawks (15-2-2) rolled to a pair of 4-0 wins in the first two rounds of the playoffs before yesterday’s 5-1 decision against Campbell (13-5-1), which was coming off a 3-1 win over No. 2 Belmont and had played in three straight finals before Hopkinton knocked the Cougars out in the semifinals last year. Plus, Campbell played the Hawks a to 2-2 tie back on Sept. 6 before losing to them, 3-1, on Sept. 19. But the Hopkinton players were full of confidence going into yesterday’s match.
“That’s what I was hoping for and that’s what we were expecting,” Hopkinton’s Courtney Benson said of her team’s impressive performance. “We came out and did exactly what we wanted to do.”
Well, maybe not exactly. The Hawks applied plenty of pressure on Campbell in the first half, but couldn’t convert any chances into goals. A cross from Lily Scammon in the 24th minute was on its way to the far post where two Hawks were waiting, but Campbell’s Hannah Neild cleared the danger with a header. One minute later, a Hopkinton corner kick led to a shot from Sabrey Montore that hit the crossbar. And 10 minutes after that, Benson sent a through ball to Scammon, and her shot clanged off the crossbar.
Campbell had its closest first-half call in the 36th minute when Angela Valenti’s shot from 15 yards away hit the inside of the far post and bounced out instead of in.
“They had their opportunities, too,” Hopkinton Coach Lauri Izzi said. “There were a lot of pings going on. Everybody was just chopping away and seeing who could score first.”
That critical first goal came just a minute after Campbell’s near miss when Scammon sent a through ball to Benson, who got a step on the defense and calmly passed the ball into the net after Campbell keeper Heather Baron came off her line. That made it 1-0 with 3:46 left in the first half, and Hopkinton gladly took that lead into halftime.
“It gave us a little space to breathe,” Benson said.
But the Hawks knew they couldn’t sit on one-goal lead against the Cougars, who were averaging 3.3 goals per game coming into the contest.
“Campbell is not a team that you can go against thinking you’re going to sit back on your heels and have a 1-0 game against,” Izzi said. “You either have to put more goals in or it’s going to be a duel.”
Hopkinton started putting in more goals seven minutes into the second half when Meg Hemmerlein lofted a free kick into the 18-yard box, the Cougars whiffed on a clear, and Benson was there to take advantage of the mistake and double her team’s lead. The score went to 3-0 in the 62nd minute when Lillias Whitehead fed a pretty pass through traffic to send Benson into the box. Baron stopped Benson’s bid, but Brianna Curley tracked down the rebound with a sliding shot. Baron got in front of that one, too, but she couldn’t stop the ball from going over the goal line.
Campbell’s aggressive offense finally answered in the 68th minute when Nicole Golden beat the Hawks defense to the ball and used a sliding touch of her own to get it past keeper Kasey Smith (two saves). But Hopkinton didn’t gave Campbell much of a chance to build on that momentum as Hemmerlein scored on a header off a Benson corner kick with 9:53 left to play, and just 25 seconds later Aaliyah Curley scored on a rebound from a Brianna Curley shot to push the lead to 5-1 and push the Hawks into the final.
The goals kept flowing in the second game as Bow went up 2-0 after only 13 minutes, which was the exact script the Falcons wanted to write. Raymond (14-5) used a defensive posture against Bow during the regular season and gave the Falcons two of their tightest matches of the year – a 1-0 win on Oct. 8 and a 2-1 overtime win on Oct. 15.
“We felt that if we could score first, and maybe get a couple goals up on them, they would have to come out,” Bow Coach Jay Vogt said. “So that was one of our goals, score first and just control play from there.”
The Falcons got a little help on their first score when Lauren Scarpetti’s well-placed corner kick bounced off a Raymond defender and past keeper Mikayela Anguiano for an own goal in the seventh minute. Another Scarpetti corner kick led to the next score, but this time it came off a Bow player as Carlson connected with the side of her foot and redirected it home, even though she wasn’t even facing the goal.
“I was just watching the ball and making sure I hit it instead of running into somebody else,” Carlson said.
The Falcons had the two early goals they wanted and they took that 2-0 lead into halftime, but they had to be reminded there was still 40 minutes to play.
“The girls were almost too loose at halftime; we had to get them back a little bit,” Vogt said. “It was 2-0, but all it takes is one goal and the other team suddenly get enthusiasm and adrenaline, so our focus was to get another one.”
They quickly did just that on a Caitlyn Keenan goal in the 43rd minute. The sophomore midfielder, who was winning balls and defending brilliantly all game, started the play by dribbling toward her own end, but she reversed the ball through traffic, didn’t pass to anyone ahead of her (they were all offsides), and then drove a low, hard shot past Anguiano to make it 3-0.
“She was just everywhere tonight,” Vogt said of Keenan, “and that was a beautiful goal.”
Bow’s final score came in the 57th minute when Maddie Cheney sent a through ball to Naomi Kramer, who ran it down at the end line and put in a bad angle shot. Raymond’s lone goal came in the 69th minute when Katelyn McCoole headed home a cross from Hannah McNicholas. But the Falcons were already well on their way to another championship matchup with Hopkinton by that point.
The Hawks have won all four of the other finals meetings against Bow (1998, 1999, 2003 and 2012) by 1-0 scores. But the Falcons weren’t thinking about all those past events yesterday, even the history that was just a year old. Well, at least not much.
“I’m just glad we got to the finals,” Carlson said, “but it might be nice to finish where we left off.”
(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)