Cards’ Title Hopes Denied in Overtime

  • Stevens senior Audrey Puksta pressures Hopkinton Ellie Owen for control of the ball during the NHIAA D-III Championship game in Laconia on Sunday, November 4, 2018. (Alan MacRae/Valley News)

  • Stevens junior Sydney Miller tries to get the ball away Hopkinton's Megan Ellsworth during the NHIAA D-III Championship game in Laconia on Sunday, November 4, 2018. (Alan MacRae/Valley News)

  • Stevens goalie Kaitlyn Chambers and her defensive support thwart a Hopkinton goal attempt during the NHIAA D-III Championship game in Laconia on Sunday, November 4, 2018. (Alan MacRae/Valley News)

  • Stevens freshman Zahna Rice kicks the ball under pressure from Hopkinton's Jessie Carney during the NHIAA D-III Championship game in Laconia on Sunday, November 4, 2018. (Alan MacRae/Valley News)

  • A dejected Stevens team leaves their goal as Hopkinton celebrates winning the NHIAA D-III Championship game in Laconia on Sunday, November 4, 2018. (Alan MacRae/Valley News)

  • Stevens teammates console each other after loosing the NHIAA D-III Championship game in Laconia on Sunday, November 4, 2018. (Alan MacRae/Valley News)

  • NHIAA D-III runners up, Stevens HS girls soccer team on Sunday, November 4, 2018. (Alan MacRae/Valley News)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 11/5/2018 12:08:59 AM

Laconia, n.h. — A bid by the Stevens High girls soccer team to garner the school’s first NHIAA title in 30 years was denied when Hopkinton turned a corner kick into an overtime goal in the Hawks’ 2-1 win for the Division III championship at cold Sachem Field on Sunday at Laconia High School.

The game concluded shortly after Stevens was forced to kick the ball out of bounds during an early rush in the extra session. The corner was taken by Hopkinton senior Ellie Morrall, who deposited the ball about 12 yards out in front of the goal. Freshman Jessie Carney trapped the ball, then fired a shot past Stevens goalkeeper Kate Chambers.

Chambers kept the Cardinals in the game with her movement in and out of the goal against a team with quick attackers and midfielders skilled at making through passes. Chambers had 11 stops and avoided other shots on goal by leaving the goalmouth.

“Kate was really good tonight,” Stevens coach Tom Belaire said. “In fact, I thought we all played well. We left everything on the field. It was a tough way to end the season.”

Leann McCarthy, one of 10 seniors on the squad, was a rock at fullback during the tourney and was saddened by the loss. “I loved being on the Cardinals, and I love my teammates and this sport,” McCarthy said.

In 1988, Stevens beat Lebanon, 3-0, for what was then the NHIAA Class IMS crown. Since that time, the Cardinals have been to title games four times with four losses, three to Souhegan.

The Cardinals led Sunday’s match for a long time, scoring at 27:50 of the first half and holding the edge until Hopkinton tied with 13:49 to go in regulation.

It figured to be a close game as the second-seeded Cardinals (15-4-0) and the fourth-seeded Hawks (16-3-1) split two games this season, both winning on the road.

Hopkinton had some success early with its through passes, putting pressure not only on Chambers but the Cardinal defense. Stevens shook that off and took the lead when junior Sydney Miller converted Ashlyn Marsh’s corner kick. It was Miller’s third goal of the playoffs and 18th strike of the season. The goal seemed to reduce the pressure that Hopkinton was putting on the Stevens defense.

“Yes, we were having trouble with that part of our game, but I thought we cleaned it up pretty good as the game went along,” said Belaire.

The Hawks stayed in range of the Cardinals by playing their preferred style of game.

“We play what we call a control type of soccer,” Hopkinton coach Mike Zahn said. “We try to posses the ball as much as we can and hope to force mistakes. Those through balls have worked for us a lot.”

The second half, even with Stevens in the lead, had its moments of exhilaration and deflation. With less than seven minutes gone, Hopkinton senior Ellie Morrill, a problem for Stevens all game, banged a 20-yarder over Chambers’ head, but it smacked off the crossbar and was cleared. Then there were two balls that were put in the back of the net that didn’t count on offside calls that brought cheers and groans from the large crowd.

Stevens thought it had a 2-0 lead when Audrey Puksta converted a Miller pass, but her shot past Hopkinton keeper Amelia Bassett was denied on an offside call. Morrill deposited a ball in the Stevens net moments later, but that too was whistled no good.

However, less that three minutes after that, the Hawks tied the game when Chambers was unable to stop Grace Clark on a breakaway.

Hopkinton finished with an 11-5 edge in shots on goal and 5-4 in corners. The Hawks ended the regular season as one of the hottest teams in the state, winning nine straight with six shutouts.

“We gave it our all,” Stevens senior Brooke Bonneau said.

Bonneau and fellow seniors McCarthy, Chambers, Puksta, Marsh, Reagan Burt, Maddie Vaine, Jenna Pond, Abby Miller and Julia Belaire played their final matches as Cardinals.




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