Boys’ soccer: No. 4 Hopkinton suffers ‘brutal’ loss to No. 1 Campbell in penalty kicks

Hopkinton midfielder Fin Murphy (left) reacts after Campbell goalkeeper Jack Bourque (right) saved his penalty kick on Monday evening, October 30, 2023 during the D-III semifinals at Laconia High School.

Hopkinton midfielder Fin Murphy (left) reacts after Campbell goalkeeper Jack Bourque (right) saved his penalty kick on Monday evening, October 30, 2023 during the D-III semifinals at Laconia High School. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

The Hopkinton boys soccer team react after losing in penalty kicks after two overtime periods during the D-III semifinals at Laconia High School on Monday, October 30, 2023.

The Hopkinton boys soccer team react after losing in penalty kicks after two overtime periods during the D-III semifinals at Laconia High School on Monday, October 30, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Hopkinton defender Abram Standefer re-directs a ball toward the goal during the second half of the D-III semifinals against Campbell on Monday night, October 30, 2023.

Hopkinton defender Abram Standefer re-directs a ball toward the goal during the second half of the D-III semifinals against Campbell on Monday night, October 30, 2023. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Hopkinton midfielder Cody Charron heads the ball through the outstretched hands of Campbell goalie during the second half to tie the score at 3-3 at Laconia High School during the D-III semifinals.

Hopkinton midfielder Cody Charron heads the ball through the outstretched hands of Campbell goalie during the second half to tie the score at 3-3 at Laconia High School during the D-III semifinals. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 10-31-2023 10:59 AM

LACONIA – It was the type of game any young soccer player dreams of playing in: A brisk chill in the air, a back-and-forth slugfest, an appearance in the championship game on the line. 

But when Campbell goalkeeper Jack Bourque turned aside a shot from Hopkinton’s Liam Boyle in the fourth round of penalty kicks in the Division III semifinals on Monday night, that dream for the Hawks turned into more of a nightmare. After battling back from deficits of 1-0 and 3-2, No. 4 Hopkinton (15-4-0) just couldn’t quite pull off the upset against the No. 1 Cougars (17-1-0), losing 4-3 in PKs.

Lots of high school soccer playoff games of this magnitude tend to be played conservatively, with neither team wanting to make a crucial mistake; Monday was not one of those games. Campbell jumped out early, on a goal from Tucker Matthews in the 10th minute to make it 1-0. Less than a minute later, the Hawks responded when Owen Wuellenweber scored off a throw-in from Noah Aframe. Roughly five minutes after that, Hopkinton’s Fin Murphy connected off a corner to make it 2-1, before the Cougars tied the score at 2-2 heading into halftime.

The second half began much like the first: chaotically. Campbell’s Tyson Landry found the back of the net in the 50th minute, and then a potential Hopkinton goal was kept in front of the goal line by what appeared to be the arm of a Cougars defender. The referees didn’t blow a whistle and play continued, much to the intense displeasure of the Hopkinton bench. But the Hawks left no doubt in the 54th minute when Cody Charron finished off a goal out of a scramble in front of the net to even the score again.

After two scoreless 15-minute periods of overtime, the game came down to penalty kicks, which Campbell won, 3-1. Luke Delia, Alexander Kirby and Landry scored the three goals for the Cougars; Wuellenweber scored the Hawks’ lone goal.

“That’s a crazy game,” Hopkinton head coach Scott Zipke said shortly after the loss. “They really fought amazing. Nothing but pride about how they played tonight. They’ve played some big games this year, and I knew that we were going to come out and be in a tough one tonight.”

Hawks’ goalie Colby Boissy’s performance went a long way in keeping Hopkinton in the game, coming up with big save after big save in what turned out to be his final game in a Hopkinton uniform.

“Incredible, right?” said Zipke of the effort. “Just over and over, Colby’s incredible. He got clobbered there at one point, had a hurt shoulder, and is still out there doing his thing. Best game of his life in the biggest moment. It was awesome.”

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Hopkinton finished last season just 5-10-2, losing to Campbell in the first round of the playoffs. Turning things around one year later, winning 15 games and coming within a round of penalty kicks of heading to the championship game, doesn’t leave much for Zipke to hang his head over, even after the crushing loss. When the dust settles, there will be nothing but satisfaction for how this season panned out.

“Once you get to PKs, you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “One team moves on, but big deal. Big deal once it gets to PKs. Message is: It’s cool that these guys are as upset as they are because that means they played a hell of a game tonight, and they played a hell of a year. They wanted to play in the championship, and they thought that they were going to, and they thought they should be. It’s cool how well they played tonight and how much it hurts because that means you played awesome.”

On the team’s sideline, immediately after the loss, that perspective hadn’t yet sunk in. Players silently packed their bags, unlaced their cleats and tried to make sense of what just happened. They’d just played the most thrilling game of soccer imaginable, yet in an instant, their season was all over. 

“It’s just a brutal way to end it,” Zipke said. “But they played a heck of a game, and I’m really proud of them.”