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Hopkinton beats Brady in PKs to repeat as D-III girls’ soccer champs

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  • The Hopkinton girls’ soccer team celebrates its second straight Division III championship at Bank of NH Stadium on Sunday night in Laconia GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Hopkinton captain Ellie Owen hoasts the Div. III Soccer Championship trophy after they beat Bishop Brady in a shoot out in Laconia on Sunday night, Movember 10, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Her Hopkinton teammates get ready to congratulate goalie Emily Fleegle (right) after the team won the New Hampshire Div.III State Championship in Laconia on Sunday night, November 10, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Bishop Brady’s Adienne Brummett (left) and Hopkinton’s Lillie Presti (right) collide during the second half of Sunday’s Division III girls’ soccer championship in Laconia. GEOFF FORESTER/ Monitor staff

  • Bishop Brady midfielder Adienne Brummett and Hopkinton forward Lillie Presti collide during the second half at the Div. III State Soccer Championship on Sunday night, November 10, 2019 in Laconia. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Hopkinton goalie Emily Fleegle makes a save in PKs during Sunday’s D-III girls’ soccer final against Bishop Brady. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Hopkinton’s Maddy Carmichael (right) squeezes the ball past Bishop Brady goalie Emily Senko (right) to score the first goal of Sunday’s D-III girls’ soccer final in Laconia. Hopkinton won on penalty kicks, 2-1, to claim a second straight title. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 11/10/2019 11:01:48 PM

LACONIA – Players from both sides gathered near midfield, legs tired, exhausted beyond belief, but still bubbling with enough energy for the start of high-stakes penalty kicks after 100 minutes of championship-caliber soccer.

“We practiced the penalty kicks and got our order down. We probably ran through it five times in the last week,” Hopkinton girls’ soccer coach Mike Zahn said. “So the girls knew who was taking them and they all knew where they wanted to put (the shots) once they set the ball down.”

Practice made perfect for the Hawks on Sunday.

Hopkinton didn’t miss once, and when senior captain Ellie Owen’s shot sailed into the far right corner of the net for the game-winning goal, the Hawks celebrated at Laconia High School for the second straight season after taking down No. 1 Bishop Brady, 2-1, to repeat as Division III champions.

“It was a lot of pressure on (Owen), but I think she’s the type of kid that can definitely take that pressure,” said Zahn before getting a Gatorade bath from his players. “She showed us her composure at the end to put it away.”

For Owen, the moment was a cherry on top of a terrific four-year career.

Both sides opened the PKs with makes, but consecutive misses for Brady on its next two chances opened the door for Hopkinton. Sophomore Annie Higginbotham and junior Caitlin Clarke put their shots into the net, and Brady keeper Emily Senko, who kept the Giants alive more than once, did it again with a score.

At that point, all eyes were on Owen.

“I wanted to beat them so bad because I’ve always heard this thing where you can’t beat a team three times,” Owen said. “I feel like that kick, I just knew it had all the pressure of all the four years of me playing soccer. That was like the pinnacle.”

For Brady (16-3), the loss was as gut-wrenching as they come. Behind the talented duo of sisters Adrienne and Sheridan Brummett, the Giants cruised to the program’s first championship appearance with only two losses, and nearly had the title in hand before Sheridan had a goal called back in the opening minutes of the first overtime.

Hopkinton, though, seemed to be Brady’s kryptonite. The Hawks proved to be the only team capable of containing the Brummett sisters, beating the Giants twice during the regular season, and now for a third time on Sunday.

“I put my eggs in my basket with them,” Brady coach Andrew Mattarazzo said of the sisters, who combined for eight goals in a semifinal win over No. 5 St. Thomas. “Other girls knew they would have to step up and play around them, and we had some good opportunities as well, but I wasn’t going to change anything in the final to play to somebody else’s style.

“We were going to play our style and if we won, we won. If we went down, we went down swinging,” Mattarazzo said. 

Just like the matchups in the regular season, Hopkinton man-marked Sheridan and Adrienne with Higginbotham and Lillie Presti, using Owen to clean up anything that may get through.

“We knew they were going to do that,” Mattarazzo said. “They’ve seen man-marks the whole season, not just against Hopkinton, and they battled through it. Those two sisters are great soccer players and I’m privileged to have them play for me at Brady.” 

The Hawks (16-4), who won the title last year as the No. 4 seed and now again this year as the No. 6 seed, struck first in the opening minutes of the contest.

Freshman Maddy Carmichael received a long pass over the top near the box, beat her defender, and Senko, to the ball and squeezed it into the net with a soft touch in the 10th minute. 

Brady responded in fast order. Adrienne Brummett received a free kick from a few yards outside the box 12 minutes later and unleashed a perfect line drive shot into the far corner of the net past Hopkinton keeper Emily Fleegle for the equalizer.

“Part of my goal was the longer we could keep it, the less chance they have to kick it up the field for her to get her chances,” Zahn said. “It worked for the most part. I was disappointed with the early goal, but it was a foul and a good free kick.”

Both Fleegle and Senko were close to flawless the rest of the way as scoring chances piled up at a frenzied pace.

Fleegle saw less action, but swatted away several chances, including two key saves during penalty kicks. Senko, meanwhile, turned in a double-digit save performance, scored a goal of her own in PKs and was the driving force behind one of the best defenses in D-III.

“She was our rock today. Played the game of her career, honestly,” Mattarazzo said. “She kept us in it in those couple of overtimes and again toward the end so it was a huge game for Emily. It’s a tough way to end on PKs for her. She got her hand on a couple of them, but just couldn’t keep it out.”

(Jay McAree can be reached at 369-3371, or on Twitter @JayMcAree.)

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