Girls’ soccer: Penalty kicks end No. 5 Bow’s season after spirited defensive battle with top-seeded Hollis-Brookline

Bow's Sidney Roberge dribbles past Hollis-Brookline's Molly Reardon during Thursday's Division II semifinal in Exeter.

Bow's Sidney Roberge dribbles past Hollis-Brookline's Molly Reardon during Thursday's Division II semifinal in Exeter. Chip Griffin—Photos By Chip

Falcons goalie Bridget Hilton dives for a save during penalty kicks in Thursday’s D-II semifinal.

Falcons goalie Bridget Hilton dives for a save during penalty kicks in Thursday’s D-II semifinal. Chip Griffin Photos By Chip


Monitor staff

Published: 11-03-2023 10:12 AM

EXETER – If No. 5 Bow (12-4-2) was to stand any chance of beating No. 1 Hollis-Brookline (18-0-0) in the Division II semifinals at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter on Thursday night, the Falcons were going to have to turn in an immaculate defensive performance. Knowing it couldn’t dig itself a hole against a team that had allowed only three goals all season, Bow had to lock down defensively, and it did. There was just one problem: the Falcons couldn’t score either.

Scoreless through 80 minutes of regulation and then through 30 additional minutes of overtime, the Cavaliers finally capitalized in penalty kicks, 3-0, to take down Bow, 1-0.

The Falcons arguably couldn’t have played much better. Yet, their season still came to an end.

“It hurts, but be proud,” Falcons’ head coach Jay Vogt said was the message to his team. “Be proud of the effort that you made. We took them out of their game. That’s the most you can ask for. We hoped that we’d get a goal, but even their coaches admitted we took them out of their game, so I’m proud of them.”

Coming into the semifinal off a narrow 1-0 win over No. 4 John Stark, Vogt knew his team needed to play aggressively. Other teams that played the Cavaliers during the season sat back and allowed them to play their style. The Falcons entered Thursday determined to make them work a little bit harder than they were used to.

“We felt like we had to take the game to them,” Vogt said. “We had to put pressure on them. ... We decided to try to make them uncomfortable today. I thought we did a good job of that.”

Most of the first half played out with Bow packing it in on defense to make sure the Cavaliers couldn’t score. Then in the second half, the Falcons started to find their footing, moving the ball up the field and creating some of their own scoring opportunities.

“We talked more about trying to find our possession because when we found possession, we moved the ball very well,” Vogt said. “We needed to get some shots on goal, and we came close a couple times. So did they.”

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In PKs, Sienna Anderson, McKenna Maguire and Kiera King all scored for Hollis-Brookline on Bow goalie Bridget Hilton. The Falcons sent up Lexana Farr, Lexi Insana and Brylie Gelinas; none of the three could convert against Cavalier goalie Maya Blackman.

Thursday was Bow’s 14th straight semifinal appearance under Vogt, and while the Falcons basically did everything they could to try to stun the top seed in Division II, they just came up a little short. It’s now been two straight years of heartbreak in the semifinals since Bow won the D-II championship in 2021, following last year’s 2-1 loss to Pembroke. 

In this semifinal, quite simply, the better team won. PKs are a bit of a wildcard – and certainly aren’t the fairest way to determine which team should win – but the Cavaliers have been a juggernaut all season. It took a masterclass defensive performance just for the Falcons to keep the game tied. Hollis-Brookline’s defense is also quite good, though, and similarly stifled Bow’s efforts.

The result stung, but there wasn’t much more Vogt could’ve asked for from his group.

“They haven't been shut out all year,” Vogt said, referring to Hollis-Brookline. “We took them for 110 minutes and shut them out. Pretty proud. It took us a while, but we found our identity, and then we found out what type of team we really were. We took them to PKs. It just didn’t work out for us today, but their effort was fantastic.”