Girls’ soccer: No. 3 Hopkinton comes up short in narrow loss to No. 2 Gilford

Hopkinton midfielder Sarah Chodosh heads the ball at Gilford goalie Ariah Dewar during the first half as Gilford midfielder Leah Davigon looks on at Manchester Memorial on Wednesday.

Hopkinton midfielder Sarah Chodosh heads the ball at Gilford goalie Ariah Dewar during the first half as Gilford midfielder Leah Davigon looks on at Manchester Memorial on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

LEFT: Hopkinton midfielder Keegan St. Cyr heads a ball at the Gilford goal near the end of the game as Lizz Holmes lands on the ground. RIGHT: Hopkinton midfielder Keegan St. Cyr heads up the field as she battles Gilford defender Gracey LeBlanc.

LEFT: Hopkinton midfielder Keegan St. Cyr heads a ball at the Gilford goal near the end of the game as Lizz Holmes lands on the ground. RIGHT: Hopkinton midfielder Keegan St. Cyr heads up the field as she battles Gilford defender Gracey LeBlanc. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

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Hopkinton girls soccer players hug after the end of the semifinal game against Gilford on Wednesday. The team graduates seven seniors off the roster. They ended their season at 14-3-2.

Hopkinton girls soccer players hug after the end of the semifinal game against Gilford on Wednesday. The team graduates seven seniors off the roster. They ended their season at 14-3-2.

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 11-02-2023 2:02 PM

MANCHESTER – For all their success throughout the 2023 season, the Hopkinton Hawks just couldn’t crack the Gilford Golden Eagles. They lost to them narrowly twice during the regular season, and on Wednesday in the Division III semifinals at Manchester Memorial High School, the Hawks once again came up short, 1-0.

All three of No. 3 Hopkinton’s (14-3-2) losses this year came against No. 2 Gilford (18-1-0).

A Golden Eagles goal from Elizabeth Albert in the sixth minute turned out to be the difference in the tightly-contested battle. Here are three notes from the game that brought the Hawks’ season to an end:

Hawks had no shortage of chances

With less than five minutes remaining, Hopkinton senior Keegan St. Cyr had a partially-open net to shoot at; she sailed the ball just wide. Off a corner kick a few moments later, St. Cyr’s header also barely missed the mark.

Still, against an opponent that allowed just six goals all season, the offensive pressure stood out as a somewhat unexpected positive for head coach Mike Zahn.

“Sometimes you play better and things don’t go your way. I thought overall, they did great,” he said. “I don’t think Gilford expected us to play as well as we did because they had already beaten us twice this year, but they’re a good team and defending champs so they were obviously not going to back down easy.”

Gilford’s midfielders create challenges on defense

Even though Hopkinton had several scoring opportunities, the Golden Eagles defended pretty surgically, keeping the ball out of danger zones.

That allowed Gilford goalie Ariah Dewar to make easier saves and limit high-percentage shots.

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“They’re aggressive,” Zahn said of Gilford’s defense. “They’re good in the midfield too, so especially when they lose the ball, they get a lot of their midfielders back, and their midfielders are very athletic and can run up and down the field, so that helps them out a lot. And then they’re just good at clearing the ball. They don’t really let the ball just bounce around in the middle of the field very often.”

Zahn reflects on a successful 2023 season

The Hawks will graduate seven seniors off the roster, and while Zahn would’ve loved to have seen them cap off their careers with a championship, a 14-3-2 season that ends in the semifinals isn’t anything to feel badly about.

“Yeah, it would’ve been nice to get to the final, but the top four teams moved onto the semifinals, so (among) those top four teams, really anybody can win at any moment,” Zahn said. “It just would’ve been nice to move onto the final and to get to that point, but for me, the girls really showed me tonight that they belong here and, if things went our way, they belonged in the final too. But it didn’t go our way. It went Gilford’s way.”