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The Unkindest Kick of All: Stevens Upset in Penalty Tiebreaker

  • Stevens’ Jordan Haines, third from left, clears the ball from in front of the Cardinals’ net as goalkeeper Austin Putnam and defender Ryan Napsey (4) watch the play during Stevens’ NHIAA Division III boys soccer quarterfinal with No. 14 Sanborn at Monadnock Park on Sunday. (Medora Hebert photograph)

    Stevens’ Jordan Haines, third from left, clears the ball from in front of the Cardinals’ net as goalkeeper Austin Putnam and defender Ryan Napsey (4) watch the play during Stevens’ NHIAA Division III boys soccer quarterfinal with No. 14 Sanborn at Monadnock Park on Sunday. (Medora Hebert photograph)

  • Stevens’ Ethan Sweet moves to the ball with pressure from Sanborn’s Jared L’Antigua (5) and Colin O’Callaghan (9). (Medora Hebert photograph)

    Stevens’ Ethan Sweet moves to the ball with pressure from Sanborn’s Jared L’Antigua (5) and Colin O’Callaghan (9). (Medora Hebert photograph)

  • Sanborn’s Kyle Lord, left, gives Stevens’s Zach Shedlock, center,  a hard time as the Cardinals’ Spenser Root (17) arrives to offer help. (Medora Hebert photograph)

    Sanborn’s Kyle Lord, left, gives Stevens’s Zach Shedlock, center, a hard time as the Cardinals’ Spenser Root (17) arrives to offer help. (Medora Hebert photograph)

  • Stevens’ Jordan Haines, third from left, clears the ball from in front of the Cardinals’ net as goalkeeper Austin Putnam and defender Ryan Napsey (4) watch the play during Stevens’ NHIAA Division III boys soccer quarterfinal with No. 14 Sanborn at Monadnock Park on Sunday. (Medora Hebert photograph)
  • Stevens’ Ethan Sweet moves to the ball with pressure from Sanborn’s Jared L’Antigua (5) and Colin O’Callaghan (9). (Medora Hebert photograph)
  • Sanborn’s Kyle Lord, left, gives Stevens’s Zach Shedlock, center,  a hard time as the Cardinals’ Spenser Root (17) arrives to offer help. (Medora Hebert photograph)

Claremont — The sixth-seeded Stevens High boys soccer team missed one penalty kick and it cost them as 14th-ranked Sanborn made all five of its attempts in a shootout tiebreaker to upset the Cardinals in an NHIAA Division III quarterfinal Sunday at Monadnock Park.

The score was tied at 2-2 at the end of regulation. Twenty minutes of golden-goal overtime couldn’t break the tie. That brought the match to penalties, and that was when the Indians completed their latest upset.

It’s been quite a trip though the postseason so far for Sanborn (10-8-0), which first knocked off third-seeded Gilford and has now added Stevens (13-5-0) to its growing list of victims. Sanborn will play No. 2 Bow — a 1-0 winner over No. 7 White Mountains on a late Ben Maurere goal — in Thursday’s semifinals at Merrimack Valley Regional High School.

“I looked at their schedule, and this was no fluke team that beat us today,” said Stevens coach Jason Stone, whose Cardinals closed out one of their best seasons in a long time.

However, the loss Sunday will probably have Stone scratching his head all winter. The Cards jumped out to a 2-0 first-half lead, then got nothing the rest of the way.

“I don’t know what happened,,” said Stone. “I know we didn’t go to feet enough in the second half.”

What was also a factor was the wind on a chilly day. Stevens had the wind in the first half and scored twice. Sanborn got the tying goal in its wind-aided second half, setting up the stalemate.

Stevens took the wind at its back again in the first 10-minute overtime and earned several chances to end the match. Daniel Croteau had a long shot from the side skip off the crossbar, and Zack Bunnell had a good look from in close that Sanborn keeper Howie Sharon gloved away. Croteau and Bunnell also had second chances, but Croteau shot into the side netting and Bunnell’s attempt was tipped over the cage.

The fact that Sanborn was only a .500 team during the regular season and is now enjoying a storybook run didn’t seem to faze coach Al Magnusson a bit. “We have 10 seniors, and we actually didn’t play particularly well here today,” he said. “Although I was worried when we fell behind 2-0.”

Sanborn had won five of its last six games, so there was certainly reason to be concerned about the Indians. But when the Cardinals jumped out to a 2-0 lead, it looked like they were taking the Indians seriously. Then the key third goal never came and Sanborn battled back.

Both of the Stevens goals were dandies. The first came when Cardinal speedster Kyle Hamel beat a path up the middle, somehow threaded his way through two defenders and beat Sharon on a ball that the Sanborn keeper got a piece of but couldn’t stop it from going in.

The second tally was a long shot from Bunnell that hugged the ground to the left of Sharon, bouncing off the far post and trickling in. Zack Shedlock assisted on the play. Sharon let nothing by after that, made one additional key save and scored one of Sanborn’s goals during the PK shootout.

Sanborn cut the Stevens lead to 2-1 before the first half ended when a long direct kick by Kyle Lace eluded the reach of Stevens keeper Jordan Haines. The Indians nearly gifted Stevens a third first-half goal on a Cardinal corner kick that was headed by a Sanborn defender toward Sharon who managed to tip it off the crossbar.

With wind working in their favor, the Indians tied the game 16 minutes into the second half as a Lace cross was booted in by Austin Clough.

The game remained tied through regulation only because Haines tipped one shot over the cage and pounced on a dangerously rolling ball in front of the goal mouth.